Kerbal Space Program
What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Kerbal Space Program is a space-themed engineering simulation that focuses on creativity and trial and error. It allows kids to build and test rocket ships using a highly visual creation tool similar to Spore's creature creator. The ships are crewed by little green astronauts, who do not feature prominently in the game. Many launches end in catastrophe and explosions. Most often the astronauts survive, but sometimes they disappear. Death is not directly depicted.
What kids can learn
Thinking & Reasoning
- problem solving
- applying information
- developing novel solutions
- making new creations
- work to achieve goals
- digital creation
Engagement, Approach, Support
Engagement will vary depending on temperament. Kids who love solving problems and who enjoy trial-and-error learning will easily spend hours on the game.
Kids acquire and creatively apply math, physics, and engineering knowledge by designing, constructing, and launching rockets.
In-game tutorials provide basic instruction. Online videos and forums are easily accessible and have been created by a rich and active player community.
What's it about?
KERBAL SPACE PROGRAM is like a NASA simulator except it takes place in a fictional star system on the planet Kerbin. Players purchase various rocket parts such as engines and fuel canisters, put them together, and then see if they can get their ships into orbit, to one of Kerbin’s two moons, or even to another planet. The star system closely resembles our solar system, but the planet is populated with cute little green men reminiscent of the minions in Despicable Me.
Is it any good?
Kerbal Space Program will be fun for determined, science-loving kids who can take the time to observe flight read-outs and use the provided controls to tinker with trajectory. They will learn the fundamentals of rocket science and realistic, modern-day space flight. Though the amount of feedback can be overwhelming, the player community on the game's forums and on YouTube is robust and helpful and provides a rich resource for self-directed learning.
The game is still in alpha, so not all the features are in place yet. Players can and do provide feedback and feature suggestions. When the final game is ready, it will sport a career mode with a series of missions, a limited parts-buying budget, and a personnel manager. Right now, the game is a sandbox, meaning that players set their own challenges. What emerge are unique, self-designed experiences that nicely highlight the trials and tribulations of space flight.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about how this game is designed to encourage trial-and-error problem solving.
Are simulations that are focused on building and creating more or less fun than violent games?
How can you protect your identity and privacy when/if you participate in Kerbal Space Program's online community?