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A Slower Speed of Light: MIT Game Lab Scores

by News Editor

January 23, 2013

News

by News Editor

January 23, 2013

“A Slower Speed of Light combines accessible gameplay and a fantasy setting with theoretical and computational physics research to deliver an engaging and pedagogically rich experience.”

The MIT Game Lab has released A Slower Speed of Light, a game that illustrates some conceptually challenging physics and math. Figure 1 is a screen shot of the game in play. As a kind of proof of concept, A Slower Speed of Light also demonstrates the Game Lab’s new OpenRelativity toolset.

Figure 1: The player’s view near the speed of light is quite different from “normal”

Designers of eLearning games and “serious games” will want to download and play A Slower Speed of Light as an example of an advanced educational simulation. This is definitely not a Jeopardy-type quiz game!

Game play

 A Slower Speed of Light is a first-person game in which players navigate a 3-D space while picking up orbs that reduce the speed of light in increments.

A custom-built, open-source relativistic graphics engine allows the speed of light in the game to approach the player’s own maximum walking speed. Visual effects of special relativity gradually become apparent to the player, increasing the challenge of gameplay. These effects, rendered in real time to vertex accuracy, include:

  • The Doppler effect (red- and blue-shifting of visible light, and the shifting of infrared and ultraviolet light into the visible spectrum)
  • The searchlight effect (increased brightness in the direction of travel)
  • Time dilation (differences in the perceived passage of time from the player and the outside world)
  • Lorentz transformation (warping of space at near-light speeds)
  • The runtime effect (the ability to see objects as they were in the past, due to the time travel of light)

The MIT Game Lab has published an official trailer on YouTube that explains the concept of the game and includes video from A Slower Speed of Light.

Players can choose to share their mastery and experience of the game through Twit­ter. A Slower Speed of Light combines accessible gameplay and a fantasy setting with theoretical and computational physics research to deliver an engaging and pedagogically rich experience.

Requirements

The MIT Game Lab reports that A Slower Speed of Light has run on computers with the following configurations:

  • Intel Core 2 Duo T9900 or Core i7 (2.8GHz clock speed)
  • Windows 7 and Mac OS X 10.6.8 (Snow Leopard) or higher
  • AMD Radeon HD 6970M/AMD Mobility Radeon HD 4850/Nvidia GeForce 9600M GT
  • 8GB RAM

Some users have reported that the game may run on Windows XP and 2GB RAM. A known bug will crash the game on computers with some Intel graphics chipsets.

To run the game, Windows users with multiple graphics processors may need to right-click the game’s application icon, select “Run with graphics processor,” and choose the option that is not marked as the default.

Download A Slower Speed of Light

For Windows: http://gamelab.mit.edu/eula/slower_eula_win.php

For Mac: http://gamelab.mit.edu/eula/slower_eula_mac.php

OpenRelativity

OpenRelativity is a set of tools now in development for simulating the effects of traveling near the speed of light in the Unity3D game engine. The team is currently refining the documentation, usability, and features in OpenRelativity, targeted for release as a free, open-source package in 2013, to allow others to produce more simulations and games about traveling near the speed of light.

The MIT Game Lab

Modern games have brought the power of play to many endeavors—from entertainment to education, art to activism, science to socialization, and more. The MIT Game Lab explores the potential of play in all these realms, particularly as it is amplified by new technologies. Combining the inventiveness of MIT engineering and computer science, the pedagogy of the MIT Education Arcade, and the research and development of the Singapore-MIT GAMBIT Game Lab, the newly configured MIT Game Lab brings together scholars, creators, and technologists to teach, conduct research, and develop new approaches for applied game design and construction.

Ranked by the Princeton Review as the #2 Game Design Program in North America, the MIT Game Lab maintains MIT’s role as a leader in the study, design, and development of games. Moving forward, the lab’s goal is to explore, educate, and engage the public by creating groundbreaking games, interactive online courses, and new applications to real world challenges.

Uniting the resources and accomplishments of MIT’s Education Arcade and the Singapore-MIT GAMBIT Game Lab, the MIT Game Lab has a track record of developing games that demonstrate new research concepts and build on cutting-edge technology. The productivity and leadership of the Game Lab staff is demonstrated by its many accomplishments and its growing list of awards.


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