The effect video games have upon society has been up for debate for some time now. Some parents may consider video games as a waste of time or even a bad influence for their children. However, over the years there have been many studies that have shown the complete opposite. Video games can teach kids to follow instructions, increase problem-solving and logic skills, and increase hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills.
Indeed, playing video games can give the brain a workout equivalent to that of a completing a crossword puzzle or learning to read. For example, many games require the player to make quick decisions. This can prime the brain for quick thinking, while also forcing the player to create alternative plans and methods to reach a goal. As a result, many kids are experiencing learning skills and earning rewards (usually beating a level). Although this is referring to video games, learning skills and experiencing rewards is part of all aspects of life.
Since kids love video games so much, game designers have begun to aim some games toward education. This has had various results. Designers still have to create a game that is fun, but integrate learning into the process. Most of the time this results in a boring game. However, Keen Software House, from the Czech Republic, recently released a game with a new twist on game play and learning. The game is Space Engineers. As the title implies, people play as engineers in space.
Currently, only an alpha version of the game is available through Steam for $15. Within the alpha version players begin as an engineer on an asteroid, and from there they are free to build small or large space ships and stations. The game's design allows a rather easy system for creating ships, along with unlimited resources for building, which is known as sandbox mode. Building is very simple and can be done by bringing up a building menu. Within the building menu, users can find items such as reactors, thrusters, and gyroscopes. Each item has its own purpose. An incomplete ship will not function properly unless all the pieces come together in some way.
Then there is the destruction Space Engineers offers. Players can crash their ships into asteroids or other ships and watch the destruction that follows. The ships bend, twist, and deform in ways that seems very realistic. This is due to the realistic volumetric-based physics engine the game utilizes. Additionally, the game has great visuals and graphics. There is no date on when a full-featured version of the game will be coming out. As for now, the developers are waiting on feedback from players to see what they should focus on the most. They are also not mentioning anything about plans, ideas, or road maps.
Overall, the game is looking good for an early release. It will be interesting to see how they approach the final game, though. Will it have dedicated missions and a plot line? Or will it be more of a free-roaming, build-and-destroy game? Right now, it's all wait and see.