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Home Entertainment: Science-Based Games To Play Online

With schools closing indefinitely, nonessential jobs moving remote, and more changes, people across America and the globe are adjusting to the new conditions–spending almost all time indoors. Games can be one form of escapism, so here at Sloan Science & Film we have surveyed the popular game platform Steam and searched the web to compile a list of browser-based and downloadable games related to an array of scientific concepts. With a variety of price points, intended age groups, and topics, we hope that everyone will be able to find something they can enjoy and learn from!

TOP 20 PICKS:

1) SPORE
“From Single Cell to Galactic God, evolve your creature in a universe of your own creations. Play through Spore's five evolutionary stages: Cell, Creature, Tribe, Civilization, and Space. Each stage has its own unique style, challenges, and goals.”
$19.99; all ages; biology


Spore

2) UNIVERSE SANDBOX
“Create and destroy on an unimaginable scale...with a space simulator that merges real-time gravity, climate, collision, and material interactions to reveal the beauty of our universe and the fragility of our planet.”
$29.99; all ages; engineering, physics, astronomy

3) ECO
“Create a civilization capable of stopping a meteor without destroying the ecosystem in the process.”
$29.99; all ages; biology, engineering, ecology

4) SPECIES: ARTIFICIAL LIFE, REAL EVOLUTION
“Play with evolution! Species: ALRE is a scientifically-grounded, emergent simulation of natural selection. Creatures evolve and speciate in response to in-game mutation and selection forces, allowing you to experience and tinker with evolution in real-time.”
$19.99; ages 10 and up; biology, genetics


Universe Sandbox

5) TYTO ECOLOGY
“Build your biome! With an empty biodome as your canvas, add plants and animals from three different ecosystems. Observe interactions like hunting, blooming, and even decomposing! Will your biodome last for decades, or will it experience a total ecosystem collapse? You’re in control!”
$6.99, Middle School+, computer, biology: ecology

6) BEYOND BLUE
“Beyond Blue is a single-player narrative adventure that takes you deep into our planet’s beating blue heart. Explore the awesome wonder and unbounded mystery that exists within the world’s ocean.”
*to be released in April, 2020
all ages; marine biology

7) THE TURING TEST
“The Turing Test is a challenging first-person puzzle game set on Jupiter’s moon, Europa. You are Ava Turing, an engineer for the International Space Agency (ISA) sent to discover the cause behind the disappearance of the ground crew stationed there.”
$2.99; ages 10 and up; logic, engineering

8) BEETLE UPRISING
“Breed for stats, looks, and abilities; then use your creations to dominate the entire vacant lot in this RTS/Genetic Simulation. Use fluid 'swarm' combat tactics to gain control of resources vital to your colony's expansion and secure a genetic future for your swarm.”
$9.99; ages 10 and up; entomology, genetics

9) THE SAPLING
“The Sapling is a short simulation game where you design your own plants and animals, and put them in a world together. Or you turn on random mutations, and see what evolution does to your ecosystem!”
$7.99; all ages; ecology, botany


The Sapling

10) ECOSYSTEM
“Grow and modify an ecosystem, with simulated evolution by natural selection creating the lifeforms that inhabit it. All the creatures in the trailer evolved on their own in the game. None were hand-edited!”
Free (demo version); ages 10 and up; biology, genetics

11) ASU Online Science Resource Center
Games for educating middle and upper schoolers on more complex concepts such as population ecology, anatomy, and evolutionary trends.
Free; ages 10 and up; biology, ecology

12) Science and Plants for Schools Online Resources
Resource center for plant-focused educational games.
Free; all ages; bioogy, botany

13) TYTO ONLINE
“With Tyto Online, students directly engage in science as they learn. Solve a food shortage using genetics, or figure out that animals are sick from microplastics by examining the ecosystem and collecting data.”
Free; ages 10 and up; environmental science, genetics

14) Check.io
Learn to code in Python or Javascript through games.
Free; ages 10 and up; coding

15) CSS Diner
Users learn to code in CSS in browser.
Free; ages 10 and up; coding

16) PRINCIPIA: MASTER OF SCIENCE
“Principia: Master of Science is a simulation game with the theme of European science in 17th century. Choose one of 12 real scientists from the era of Isaac Newton and proceed with your research. It is a time when even the term "Science" did not exist. Who can be the master of science?”
$9.99; ages 10 and up; history of science


Principia: Master of Science

17) ODYSSEY - THE STORY OF SCIENCE
“Odyssey is an enchanting and innovative science adventure game. Help Kai and her family escape their captors on the Wretched Islands - and learn the history of astronomy, mechanics, and scientific reasoning as you read Kai's journal and solve puzzles along the way!”
$14.99; all ages; general science

18) NO MAN’S SKY
“No Man's Sky is a game about exploration and survival in an infinite procedurally generated universe.”
$59.99; all ages; artificial intelligence

19) BONEWORKS
“BONEWORKS is an Experimental Physics VR Adventure. Use found physics weapons, tools, and objects to fight across dangerous playscapes and mysterious architecture.”
$29.99; ages 10 and up; physics
*requires VR headset

20) OFFSET
Made by NASA, this game helps students learn about climate change and the effects of everyday human activity on the planet.
Free; all ages; ecology, environmental science

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RUNNERS UP:

AVORION
“A procedural co-op space sandbox where players can build their own space ships out of dynamically scalable blocks. Fight epic space battles, explore, mine, trade, wage wars and build your own empire to save your galaxy from being torn apart by an unknown enemy.”
Free; all ages; astronomy, engineering

OVERVIEW
“Overview is a spectacular documentary about our position in the Universe. With a narrative and an interactive mode, it features realistic imagery and accurate data to leave you in awe and wonder at the vastness of the cosmos.”
$9.99; all ages; astronomy
*requires VR headset

American Museum of Natural History Online Resource Center
Games by AMNH for educational purposes.
Free; ages 6 and up; assorted scientific topics

PBS Science Game Resource Page
Games primarily aimed at helping younger students grasp scientific concepts.
Free; ages 5 and up; assorted scientific topics

Sheppard Software Science Resources
Games that help illustrate scientific concepts from basic to more complex.
Free; ages 5 and up; assorted scientific topics

Arcademics
Math games specialized for each education level grades K-6.
Free; ages 5 and up; mathematics

NASA Space Place Website
Space-related games aimed at elementary school kids.
Free; ages 7 and up; astronomy

All quoted material comes from the Steam description page for each game.

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