Serious Games for Hard and Asynchronous Environments

This is my master thesis from the University of the Arts Berlin, about games, their serious application and time.

If we want to conquer distant planets like Mars, astronauts and their families will be the first people whose bonds are tested over interplanetary distances. A communication loop between Earth and Mars takes between 8 and 48 minutes. Because live communication is fundamentally excluded and we cannot increase the speed of light, new ways must be found to work on our interactions: mechanisms of uncertainty found in games are suitable for fundamentally shaping this new interplanetary communication landscape. At the same time, games provide appropriate mechanisms to initially address the more imminent cognitive, physical, and social challenges of space travel.

To discuss these psychosocial problems, cognitive and game-philosophical resources are employed, specific elements of gaming are compared with the problems of space travel, game mechanics are aligned with the temporal conditions of interplanetary communication, and historical case studies on the use of games under extreme conditions are examined. The insights gained can expand and answer current questions of space organizations regarding upcoming long-distance missions towards Mars in 2035.

Beyond the realization that there is immense potential for space agencies to learn from the discipline of game design, the discussion of interplanetary ludic communication is also a suitable occasion to explore the interfaces between the social, cognitive, and instrumental aspects of gaming on our home planet.