Matt Gilbert

Selene Moon Game

Selene is a NASA-funded (now NSF-funded) educational study created with Ian Bogost at Georgia Tech and Debbie Reese at Wheeling Jesuit University. Will Hankinson, Ian and I designed the game with the guidance of moon expert Charles A. Wood, author of The Modern Moon: A Personal View, and Debbie's team of education researchers. The game moves through the stages of the moon's formation: accretion, differentiation, and surface features. My contribution was the surface features level, shown here.

All the surface features—simple and complex craters, lava vents and flows, heat, and ejecta—were simulated with a grid of cellular automata, meaning these features were not "drawn" onto the surface, but were generated by the simulated physical processes. This makes each crater and each lava flow unique, and a more accurate display of the basic processes involved. At the end of the level the player can view a simplified moon with the section of surface area they created.

The game tests the player's understanding of the moon's formation and collects data from the player during gameplay about their experience.

Selene was awarded semifinalist honors in the NSF Science and Engineering Visualization Challenge, interactive media division in 2007. Selene has since won several other honors as well.

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