Lunar Quest is a serious Massively Multiplayer Online Game (MMOG) embedded with basic physics content. Each player controls a Lunar Colonization Authority avatar, who is attempting to gain promotions within the organization. To do this, the player must explore and help colonize the moon. Quests and the rewards for their completion are designed to both allow the player to advance in the game, but also to advance their personal knowledge of physics concepts.
In the continual search for new resources to sustain the human existence, growth of the Moon's lunar colonies is being managed by the Lunar Colonization Authority, a semi-sovereign governmental entity with full authority and ownership of the lunar colonies. It exists to both promote lunar colonization and to provide benefit to all of mankind (on Earth and elsewhere in space). The LCA oversees certification and support of Lunar Guides, who are the advanced scouts that lead the way in the building of colonies on the moon. Lunar Guides are individuals certified and supported by the Lunar Colonization Authority who are tasked with lunar exploration and construction to enable colonization.
The Lunar Colonization Authority requires all Lunar Guides to go through frequent certification and testing to ensure they are knowledgeable about physics and other science and engineering areas of study. In order to successfully build each colony, each Lunar Guide must complete a series of missions and quests in order to be properly certified.
Lunar Quest is an NSF-funded project that seeks to examine the effectiveness of a massively multiplayer game for teaching introductory physics. It is our hypothesis such an educational tool will yield greater understanding of physics, which will improve their testing and classroom performance in the area of physics. It is our contention that in order to study how and why game play can be a serious tool for education, or serious gaming, we must build a game bridging the gaps of entertainment and pedagogy.
Lunar Quest is a serious-game experiment that is an MMOG for two main reasons: MMOGs are built modularly which behooves experimentation of which features contribute to or hinder the learning or the physics content contained within, and MMOGs are communities that allow designers to reach classrooms of prospective students at one time.
Why create Lunar Quest?
Serious games are seriously lacking quantitative data supporting the idea that gaming can and should contribute to learning. Lunar Quest has been designed as an experiment in an attempt to study serious gaming.