Angry birds, NASA space game

Thursday 15th March 2012

As Scotland's Suaineadh is about to launch, time to urge the Abertay games livewires to take a look at NASA and Angry birds and come up with something to boost the European space adventure buzz. Finland's Angry Birds originally created for iPhone and other smartphones with more than 500m downloads in two years, now has a NASA version about to launch this month.

“The value [of the collaboration] for NASA (<308,000 view) is in getting people excited about science and space technology,” Bob Jacobs, a NASA spokesman, told  Federal Computer Week, "This could be an important tool to reach new communities. We saw the possibility of reaching a very different audience through a gaming platform.”

In the original  players launches angry birds by catapult to destroy pigs hiding in structures reflecting the laws of physics, so the player can change the angle and power of the catapult to change the trajectory of the bird.

The new space version of the game applies the laws of physics that exist in outer space. Rovio designers met with NASA engineers to develop ways to demonstrate zero gravity principles in movements within the game.

A jointly-produced video featuring NASA astronaut Don Pettit at the International Space Station has already received < 4m views on YouTube .

The project started when Jacobs noticed several tweets mentioning NASA and Angry Birds. “NASA launched a man to the moon. We launch birds into pigs,” read a tweet from game consultant George Bray (left).  

 responded, and a conversation began. “It started with a tweet,” Jacobs said. “It sparked a lot of light bulbs going off in people’s minds.”

The collaboration took off from there, with NASA and Rovio signing a “Space Act Agreement” outlining the terms of the collaboration with Finnish Rovio.

One of the initial fruits of the NASA-Rovio effort was that a version of Angry Birds released in 2011 had an “outer space” level embedded in it. Rovio debuted that version to coincide with the final space station launch, and the company distributed tee-shirts and other publicity materials.

Jacobs said many people have tweeted about, and shared links to, both videos on social websites, including Facebook, Google+ and Twitter. NASA gains value from that sharing because the people are being exposed to the same principles of science and technology regardless.

“Having a bird and pigs in space are fun and cool ideas,” Jacobs said. “We are seeing communities getting excited about it and sharing the information.” 


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