You may upload up to three (3) JPG screenshots of your video game below. Please be sure that your screenshots do not contain personally identifiable information or other desktop information not related to your submission.
Describe your entry. Black Hole Explorer is an educational video game designed to explore astronomy, gravity and, of course, black holes. To maximize its appeal, it has been created in a similar style to a number of popular 'casual games' like Angry Birds. It includes rigorously accurate physics and introduces players to a number of important astronomical phenomena like black holes, planets, gravity, wormholes and Hawking radiation (the light emitted by black holes).
The game gives players a series of puzzles where they must navigate an alien spaceship from one location to another. To succeed, they must manouevre planets, avoid black holes and other obstacles, all the while taking gravity into account. It is a sandbox-style game that gives players a great deal of freedom. From the eighth level onwards, players can adjust the ship’s speed, the strength of gravity and the mass of planets via the menu. Players learn through experimentation.
Who is the intended audience for your entry? People of any age with an emphasis on children as young as six years of age.
Describe the purpose or intended use of your entry. The purpose of Black Hole Explorer is to engage people and teach them a little about astronomy and physics. The game is based on a series of puzzles that players must solve through experimentation, moving planets around the screen and manipulating gravity. It is designed to introduce people to complex ideas through play. By incorporating the iconic figure of Stephen Hawking and some of his theories (eg. Hawking radiation), the game's appeal has been further widened.
Use plain language to explain how your entry fulfills each criterion below.
Visual Impact The game's artwork is based on the twin themes of 1) outer space and 2) scientific experimentation. It has been designed to set the scene, engage players and maximize learning. Throughout, the creation process, careful attention was paid to color, texture, balance and motion. For example, the subtle movement of circles used to visually convey the idea of a gravitational field in some early levels.
Effective Communication Black Hole Explorer communicates concepts almost entirely through visual means. It uses powerful still images and animations to convey highly complex ideas that are challenging to explain in words. Most importantly, it communicates through the feedback it gives players when they try something and either succeed or fail.
Freshness/Originality Over the last few years, so-called casual video games for smartphones & computer tablets have become extremely popular. We wanted to tap into this popularity & create a fun, non-intimidating casual gaming experience on astronomy that was deeply educational. The combination of the two aspects is somewhat novel. We also wanted to include some game mechanics and physics that rarely (if ever) seen in games – namely Hawking radiation and wormholes.