Last Friday I half-jokingly suggested having an outreach event consisting of scientists playing video games on Twitch. I have several reasons why I think this would be potentially valuable. It would humanize scientists. It would remind science-types that they can and probably should have interests outside their science-thing. It might offer opportunities for educational outreach. I’m pretty sure it would be damn funny, too.
.@apfergus Dude I will wildly speculate or brainstorm about anything. Especially if it’s about science or outreach.
— Amanda Yoho (@mandaYoho) May 2, 2014
Now I kind of want to try it? I’ve asked around for video game suggestions and met with a surprising amount of enthusiasm. So below the fold is basically a massive brain-dump.
If one were to stick to the original video game centered idea, here are some thoughts from me and my office-mate:
- Kerbal Space Program (It’s a game about orbital mechanics. Impress your friends with Hohmann transfers!)
- Magic 2014: Duels of the Planeswalkers (One could argue that I learned basic programming concepts from the collectible card game version back in the day. And to answer the potential question “Do you play MTGO?”: against better judgement yes, occasionally, username: fresnel)
- Space Engine
- Universe Sandbox (This and the previous are edutainment tools in their own right.)
- Moonbase Alpha (It’s a game by NASA. Where you play an astronaut on the moon.)
- Foldit (It’s a protein folding puzzle game. I don’t know any biologists…)
- Darwinbots (Artificial-life / machine-learning game)
- Dr. Mario (Having someone answer questions posed by a live audience while trying to not lose at Dr. Mario has hilarious written all over it.)
- Going into something totally unprepared gets laughs on streams. No idea if sitting a scientist down in front of (e.g.) Super Meat boy with nothing but a pat on the back would be anything other than just funny.
Breaking away from the video game concept, one could speculate about doing a Tabletop / Table Flip like show, but that way lies editing and production (live streaming a table top game, love them dearly as I do, would not be fun to watch).
Timidly shuffling away from the strictly game-based formats there are potentially share-able leisure activities some scientists somewhere might like to demonstrate, e.g. music or art of some kind. I play guitar, but I’m nowhere near play-in-public territory. I’d also get a kick out of doing some kind of for-fun tech project with an Arduino or Raspberry Pi, but those are getting dangerously close to things-I-do-for-work-anyway.
If you have thoughts, share them. If you do science and don’t think the idea is totally bananas and would like to participate, by all means let me know. The non-negligible number of positive reactions makes me think this may at least be a thing that is possible.