Greyark Hightower- NASA and Virtual Worlds

  1. Poinky Malaprop

    [19:04] welcome all to the Kuurian Expedition

    [19:04] tonight we have a renowned warrior from Azeroth

    [19:04] and one of the core members of the KE guild on the Silver Hand servers

    [19:05] speaking to us about

    [19:05] why all that time spent levelling up

    [19:05] is actually part of his work

    [19:05] at NASA

    [19:05] so, take it away grey!

  2. Greyark Hightower

    [19:06] Thanks, Poinky.

    [19:06] Please ignore every other line, I am having technical problems.

  3. Poinky Malaprop

    [19:06] (oh, and don’t play the movie)

  4. Greyark Hightower

    [19:06] Thanks for having me here.

    [19:07] If I hadn’t used all my prep time trying to solve the technical issue you would have slides. So really it’s a blessing.

    [19:08] I won’t talk you through the slides, but I will tell you the first one identifies me as Daniel Laughlin, Ph.D. project manager for NASA Learning Technologies.

    [19:09] And disclose that I am research faculty at the University of Maryland Baltimore County, but I work out of Goddard Spaceflight Center in Maryland.

    [19:09] And that’s enough of the boring ID stuff.

    [19:10] A major part of my job with NASA is to research educational applications of computer game technologies.

    [19:10] So Poinky is right that my leveling up time in WoW counts as work related research.

  5. Second Life

    [19:11] Nobody Fugazi laughs

  6. Greyark Hightower

    [19:11] Though I am not sure being a level 46 paladin will help me at my next review for a raze.

  7. Resident A

    [19:11] Publication permission denied.

  8. Greyark Hightower

    [19:11] raise, even.

  9. Areyn Laurasia

    [19:11] 🙂

  10. Poinky Malaprop

    [19:12] yeah, no raise until level 55 or so

  11. Greyark Hightower

    [19:12] I should say, I am not the only on with NASA working in synthetic environments. All the Colab folks you see around are doing so too.

    [19:13] One part of my job is to find out who is doing what with games and the like in NASA.

    [19:14] You may not know NASA is made up of 10 centers, plus Headquarters, so keeping track of anything is a chore.

    [19:14] BTW, if anyone knows of any NASA games stuff, let me know in case I missed it:)

    [19:15] My little piece of NASA is part of the eEducation arm of NASA’s Office of Education.

    [19:16] We are tasked to share NASA research and enhance science and math education in general.

    [19:16] Over the last two years, I have worked to convince NASA HQ that game technology is a legitimate educational investment.

    [19:17] This past summer, we got a little funding to start a prototype NASA-based game.

    [19:18] We are now working with the America’s Army development team and the Federation of American Scientists to make a short – 10-20 minutes of play time – prototype.

    [19:19] At this point in my slides you can’t see I was going to show you a screen shot of Pong.

    [19:19] And say that is not the sort of game we are making.

    [19:20] We are using the Unreal 3 engine from Epic, to build the prototype.

    [19:20] So we should end up with commercial quality results.

    [19:21] The prototype will be an introduction to NASA’s Vision for Space Exploration. Sadly many people have no idea we are heading back to the moon by 2020.

    [19:21] By 2035, NASA’s plans to put a human on Mars.

    [19:22] The prototype game will introduce the Vision and give players as chance to experience virtually what it is like to be on the International Space Station and on the moon.

    [19:22] Obviously, not both at the same time.

    [19:23] Any rumor you have heard about flying the ISS to the moon are not true:)

  12. Poinky Malaprop

    [19:23] there goes the official NASA coverup again..

  13. Troy McLuhan

    [19:23] Glad we got that cleared up

  14. Nobody Fugazi

    [19:24] Area 51!

  15. Poinky Malaprop

    [19:24] do you have any metrics defining success for the game prototype?

  16. Greyark Hightower

    [19:25] I asked for three things from the prototype: commercial quality, real NASA content and that it be able to show some learning in 15 minutes of play.

    [19:26] We are combining the efforts of a commercial game developer, two universities and two NASA mission directorates into the project.

    [19:26] If we can’t check off all three boxes at the end, then we’ll have done a poor job.

  17. Poinky Malaprop

    [19:26] whats a NASA mission directorate? and how will you measure learning?

  18. Greyark Hightower

    [19:27] NASA is divided in to four mission directorates now: Science, Space Operations, Exploration Systems and Aeronautics Research.

    [19:27] directorates now: Science, Space Operations, Exploration Systems and

    [19:27] Aeronautics Research.

  19. Cyber Metropolitan

    [19:27] Greyark highttower,May i ask you some thing?

  20. Greyark Hightower

    [19:28] Space Operations and Exploration Systems are cooperating on the project.

    [19:28] Sure, Cyber.

  21. Cyber Metropolitan

    [19:29] Would Nasa ever use memory meta,for cheaper and stronger metal in the future?

    [19:29] i mean metal

  22. Greyark Hightower

    [19:29] As for metrics, the Center for Educational Technology at Wheeling Jesuit University is grappling with analysis. But we won’t built in learning that is demonstrated by succeeding.

    [19:30] I can’t speak for much of NASA, but I know they are looking at nanotechnology extensively.

  23. Cyber Metropolitan

    [19:30] cool

  24. Greyark Hightower

    [19:31] In addition to the prototype, NASA Learning Technologies will be solicition proposals to build a physics based MMOG in 2007.

    [19:32] The idea is to create or adapt a game interface to create a collaborative synthetic environment with both game play and academic applications.

  25. Nobody Fugazi

    [19:33] Will the physics incorporate known quantum theory?

  26. Troy McLuhan

    [19:33] Haha

  27. Greyark Hightower

    [19:33] Hehe

    [19:34] We have discussed the computing demands of having a physics engine that works seemlessly from Newtonian to Quantum physics. So far, we are short on processor power.

    [19:34] And coding ability.

    [19:34] And people with the talent to do it well.

    [19:35] But game developers have shown us one answer to get both in one environment: cheat.

    [19:36] You can make a synthetic environment with Newtonian physics and then have ‘zones’ where you can work at the quantum level. So it seems unified but isn’t.

  28. Decka Mah

    [19:37] Greyark, what do you want the players to learn when they play the game?

  29. Poinky Malaprop

    [19:37] if people haven’t done so already, I would recommend taking one of the rockets here to the international space station (and beyond). Grey – hasn’t SpacePort alpha demonstrated the learning aspects of your prototype? why not just use this environment?

  30. Greyark Hightower

    [19:37] We are guiding our game-related work at NASA with a research roadmap for eEducation, BTW.

    [19:38] Indeed the ISM is a brilliant example of what can be done in synthetic worlds.

  31. Cyber Metropolitan

    [19:38] Greyark Hightower,Should Nasa have a strong point of view of evacuateing Earth just in case if thier is a disaster in the near future?

  32. Greyark Hightower

    [19:38] And I am not just saying that because Troy is in the back.

    [19:39] I believe NASA does not expect to be able to evacute the Earth any time soon, Cyber.

    [19:40] I’ve talked a lot, please feel free to ask questions. Everybody, not just Cyber and Poinky:)

  33. Resident B

    [19:40] Publication permission denied.

    [19:40] Publication permission denied.

  34. Decka Mah

    [19:41] Greyak …what sort of things do you want players to learn from you games?

  35. Ann Enigma

    [19:41] Greyark, are you targeting a specific age group with the MMOG?

  36. Greyark Hightower

    [19:41] We are workign with America’s Army on the prototype. But ours is more learning than recruiting oriented. Though we would like to recruite kids into science fields.

  37. Nobody Fugazi

    [19:42] wouldn’t the Navy be more appropriate? 😀

  38. Greyark Hightower

    [19:42] Right now, Decka, NASA has little ready to offer as games, but we hope to help teach science, technology, engineering and math through future games.

  39. Sev Shui

    [19:42] How soon does NASA plan to have cable internet on the moon? cuz im not going there without internet….

  40. Decka Mah

    [19:43] so it about mastery of science content?

  41. Greyark Hightower

    [19:43] Ann, we are looking to target highschool through college and have the game be something that would support career experiences.

  42. Kakwanda Tizona

    [19:44] For people like myself who are new to SL, could you summarize the NASA presence in SL as of right now.

  43. Decka Mah

    [19:44] What about the proceses of working scientifically…will they be incorporated or is it about mastery of knowledge?

  44. Greyark Hightower

    [19:44] No cable internet on the moon. We’ll all need the dish.:)

    [19:44] Process over mastery of content is our aim. How to think rather than what to think.

  45. Poinky Malaprop

    [19:45] Can you, or of someone from AMES is here, say a word or two about the Space CoLab?

  46. Greyark Hightower

    [19:45] Right now, I think the NASA presence in SL is limited to the Colab across the bridge right near here.

  47. Cyber Metropolitan

    [19:45] Is SETI going,To use the moon in the near future as a new place for a radio telescope?

  48. Greyark Hightower

    [19:46] I could talk about the CoLab, but I see at least on member out there.

  49. Kakwanda Tizona

    [19:46] Do you know of other federal agencies that are trying out SL for educational purposes?

  50. Troy McLuhan

    [19:46] There is an information / reception area just after you crosst the bridge onto the Space CoLab sim

  51. Greyark Hightower

    [19:47] Camden or Troy, do you want to talk about the Colab.

  52. Camden Mitchell

    [19:47] Over to you Troy 😀

  53. Greyark Hightower

    [19:47] There you go:)

  54. Troy McLuhan

    [19:47] CoLab is geared more towards fostering collaboration, rather than education per se

  55. Greyark Hightower

    [19:48] A lot of other federal agencies are talking about using games. The army has done more than anyone else yet.

    [19:49] But the Department of Ed, Commerce, EPA, Homeland Security, Labor and the rest of the Defence Department are all looking into it.

  56. Decka Mah

    [19:49] Interesting priorities…army before schools

  57. Poinky Malaprop

    [19:49] the army is always so playful.

  58. Nobody Fugazi

    [19:49] it’s a matter of them already being paid, more than likely.

  59. Rik Riel

    [19:49] Army really needs more recruits

  60. Troy McLuhan

    [19:49] Army also has bottomless budget

  61. Rik Riel

    [19:49] indeed

  62. Greyark Hightower

    [19:49] There is some humor to it, but the military has the easiest fit to working with games. And a big budget

  63. Rik Riel

    [19:50] Will NASA’s players be limited to Americans?

  64. Greyark Hightower

    [19:50] Though most of the military game use so far is more about training – learning a specific task well – than what I would call education.

    [19:51] NASA’s target will be American’s because that’s where our mandate lies, but I don’t believe there will be any specific steps taken to restrict access.

  65. Aphoxx Skillman

    [19:52] Are we supposed to see video?

  66. Kakwanda Tizona

    [19:52] do you have a blog or website where we can monitor what is going on at NASA Learning Technologies?

  67. Rik Riel

    [19:52] I assume it will be harder sell to Congress that you are helping chinese students learn how to be better astronauts

  68. Greyark Hightower

    [19:52] Fundamentally, NASA needs a technically skilled work force in the future but enrollment and graduation rates are declining.

  69. Troy McLuhan

    [19:52] The video is NASA TV, unrelated to this specific event

  70. Poinky Malaprop

    [19:53] how hard was it to convince NASA that games and virtual worlds were relevant to your work?

  71. Greyark Hightower

    [19:53] We don’t have a blog, but the LT website is -atm – We are transitioning to a new site soon, but that will still point to us.

    [19:54] It has taken most of three years to convince NASA to put money into the idea of games. But right off the bat they were willing to fund me to research the subject three years ago.

    [19:55] Let me share my contact info before everyone has to go:

  72. Rik Riel

    [19:55] It’s a really great initiative!

  73. Greyark Hightower

    [19:55] I spend far too little time in SL to try to catch me here:)

    [19:55] But you can often find Greyark in WoW.

  74. Cyber Metropolitan

    [19:55] Greyark Highttower,Where can you get your own copy of sounds of Earth?

  75. Poinky Malaprop

    [19:56] yes, join the KE guild on silver Hand – we need more active players

  76. Areyn Laurasia

    [19:56] When will the prototype be ready for testing?

  77. Sev Shui

    [19:56] Thank u for the informative chat Greyark, we appreciate u taking the time

  78. Decka Mah

    [19:56] Have you got any kids who are gamers as part of the development team …say as a focus group…so the adults don’t suck all the fun out of the game

  79. Greyark Hightower

    [19:56] Prototype should be ready for testing by the end of January.

    [19:57] My pleasure. I always like a presentation where I don’t have to leave home.

    [19:57] And yes , Decka, we are doing focus groups with kids and keeping them close to the project.

  80. Poinky Malaprop

    [19:57] ok, well I’msure Grey is happy to answer more questions via email or in-world

    [19:58] but for now let’s have a round of applause

    [19:58] for our presenter

    [19:58] and also big thanks

  81. Rik Riel

    [19:58] WOOT!!!!!

  82. Poinky Malaprop

    [19:58] to Troy and the ISM

  83. Second Life

    [19:58] Ann Enigma claps…. thank you!

  84. Areyn Laurasia

    [19:58] /clap

  85. Poinky Malaprop

    [19:58] for letting us use this space

    [19:58] take some time to check out the rest of it

  86. Helori Pascal

    [19:58] /clap

  87. Poinky Malaprop

    [19:58] and thanks everyone for coming

  88. Greyark Hightower

    [19:58] Absolutely. The ISM is a great resource. Everyone should check it out.

  89. Cyber Metropolitan

    [19:58] You where,Good Greyark.

  90. Kakwanda Tizona

    [19:58] are meeting scheduled regularly here?

  91. Troy McLuhan

    [19:59] If you are interested in being notified of events here, join the group "Spaceflight Museum Happenings"

  92. Rik Riel

    [19:59] I love this place!

  93. Poinky Malaprop

    [19:59] and if you’re interestd in Kuurian Expedition events, join the Kuurian Expedition group 🙂

  94. Nobody Fugazi

    [19:59] It’s pretty froody. 🙂

  95. Greyark Hightower

    [20:00] There is no graceful way off the stage:)

  96. Second Life

    [20:00] Nobody Fugazi applauds


  1. November 28, 2006 at 7:57 am

    Wow. Like the formatting of the transcript – much more readable than copy and paste. thanks again for a great presentation. 🙂

  2. SignpostMarv said,

    November 28, 2006 at 9:09 am

    you’re welcome, and thanks- Perhaps someday I’ll get around to getting the CSS upgrade so I can start taking full advantage of the underlying HTML code.

    I’ve mentioned it here and there before, but there’s stuff in the HTML that’ll let you do crazy things like put in a portrait of each speaker inside each block, and colour-code each alternating speaker and message.

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