Neil DeGrasse Tyson is making a videogame

Astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson, whose chief joy in life seems to come from sucking the fun out of everything by explaining in painful detail why it's not possible to do all that cool stuff you see in movies and videogames, is making a videogame. It's going to be called Neil DeGrasse Tyson Presents Space Odyssey, and it promises to take players on "an immersive virtual reality experience" to Mars, Europa, and beyond. 

"Meet at the Mission Control Spaceport and set off on missions by piloting your spacecraft through your friends galaxies, colonizing and growing your own galaxy, all with some guidance from Neil, your trusted Space Adviser," the Space Odyssey website says. "Grow galaxies, develop planets, colonize worlds, nurture species, harvest, mine, explore and discover unique life-forms, and civilizations. You're part of a community that'll shape the future of this gaming Universe." 

As befits the good Dr. Tyson, Space Odyssey will have a "foundation based in scientifically-accurate gameplay," and there's obviously going to be an educational element to it. But the site seems determined to emphasize the "entertainment" side of things, saying that "you'll create your own celestial civilizations to compete with others in an intense game of strategy." Mark Murphy of developer Whatnot Entertainment told Digital Trends that the studio aims to follow "the Minecraft model," by building "a community of imaginative players that interact with us on the design side." 

“Part of the gameplay will allow you to grow a planetary system,” Murphy said. “Its size and scope is relative to the level of challenge you would like to undertake. You can grow and mature these planets as much as you’d like, creating colonies, ports, mining structures, undertake trade of elements you discover/mine or invent or innovate. We are adding strategic partners that will consult with us on design and tech possibilities, including Bigelow Aerospace and the National Space Society to name a couple.” 

As well as constructing their own person cosmos, players will also be able to explore galaxies created by other people, which will include luminaries like Bill Nye, George R.R. Martin, Neil Gaiman, Peter Beagle, and of course Tyson himself. And he's not just a name on a box: Tyson was apparently reluctant to join the project at first, but his daughter convinced him to sign up and since then. "It's been great," Murphy said. "We’re trying to embody the things that he brings to space and science, which is encouraging curiosity, imagination and the idea that exploration is for everybody.” 

Tyson has an undeniable talent for for making dense topics seem engaging and entertaining, so he is (or at least should be) a great choice for a project like this. Space Odyssey is being developed for Windows, Mac, Linux, mobile, and VR platforms, and is expected to be ready for beta testing sometime next year.

Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.