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NASA asks developers to join the Dark Side of the Jam

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No, NASA isn't starting an open-membership Pink Floyd tribute band, it's running an upcoming event for crafting educational games about space. Starting on Friday, developers will head into NASA's Ames Research Center to participate in the Dark Side of the Jam (opens in new tab) , a three-day challenge to "help capture the public's interest in the real science and technology advancements being made in aerospace exploration."

NASA says the twofold goal of the jam—which sadly missed an obvious Space Jam reference because of legal reasons—is to promote interest in the space program and teach players on the extraordinarily silly level of complexity needed to send an astronaut into the void. As a result, you probably won't see many fantastical depictions of space travel seen in, say, Star Citizen (opens in new tab) —think more along the lines of Kerbal Space Program (opens in new tab) and more sim-heavy approaches.

Games have been used by NASA before to increase awareness of the organization's scientific accomplishments. Moonbase Alpha (opens in new tab) , a lunar colony sim published by NASA in 2010, is perhaps its best-known effort before the Jam, though not entirely for educational reasons (opens in new tab) .

Dark Side of the Jam's official site (opens in new tab) hosts extra info on the event's goals and various assets (opens in new tab) for developers to use in their works, which conveniently double as pretty cool wallpapers.

Omri Petitte is a former PC Gamer associate editor and long-time freelance writer covering news and reviews. If you spot his name, it probably means you're reading about some kind of first-person shooter. Why yes, he would like to talk to you about Battlefield. Do you have a few days?