Presented By CyGames
Selene: a lunar construction game

Selene Videogame Wins International Competition

Date Posted: Thu Jan 31 2013

The Selene videogame created by the CyGaMEs project at the Center for Educational Technologies at Wheeling Jesuit University has earned top honors in the games and apps category of the International Science & Engineering Visualization Challenge.
Segment two of the National Science Foundation's (NSF) 2012 Challenge Winners video features Selene at minutes 2:06 – 4:44. (Read award letter)

NSF and Science magazine created the International Science & Engineering Visualization Challenge to celebrate the grand tradition of science visualization and to encourage its continued growth. The challenge invites researchers, illustrators, photographers, computer programmers, videographers, and graphics specialists from around the world to submit creative illustrations, information graphics, interactive visualizations, and videos that intrigue, explain, and educate others about science. This year's competition received more than 200 entries from 18 countries.

Selene: A Lunar Construction Game joined Velocity Raptor, created by TestTubeGames of Cambridge, MA, in receiving the two honorable mention awards in the games and apps category, the only citations in the category. Winners are featured in the February issue of Science as well as on its companion website, Science Online.

"This year's winning entries are a spectacular collection," said Colin Norman, Science magazine's news editor. "Each one exposes a hidden facet of the natural world or puts scientific concepts in a new light. And they use cutting-edge techniques to draw the viewer in."

The first version of Selene was a semifinalist in the 2007 International Science & Engineering Visualization Challenge, before winning this year.

The game originally was funded by NASA to study how to best use videogames in the teaching of NASA science concepts. The current version of the game is now part of the NSF-funded CyGaMEs project, an approach to instructional game design and embedded assessment.

"Earning international honors as a games or apps winner earns CyGaMEs and the Selene game the kind of credibility that speaks to educators, scholars, and the public," said Debbie Denise Reese, senior educational researcher at the Center for Educational Technologies and the principal investigator for the project. "This recognition goes beyond our reach through research publications in professional journals or awards from professional organizations. It opens the opportunity for more students to benefit from Selene and perhaps to engage with science in school and beyond."

In Selene players learn difficult geological concepts like accretion, differentiation, impact cratering, and volcanism by applying these science concepts through gameplay that helps players move toward the game's final goal of building the Earth's Moon. Players construct the Moon, then blast it with impact craters and flood it with lava to experience how our Moon formed and changed over time. All through the game Selene tracks each player's behavior to measure learning and the player's response to the game environment.