Ottawa’s Science and Tech Museum expands reach with new video game

The Canada Science and Technology Museum may be closed for renovations for another year, but it’s still finding ways of educating residents about the world around them – as well as those millions of kilometres away.

The museum recently launched a strategy-based mobile game, Space Frontier: Dawn of Mars, for Android and iOS.

Users play Laura Hopewell, a Canadian leader of a team trying to establish a colony on Mars. Players gather resources, train colonists, create new buildings and deal with space-specific emergencies such as dust storms.

Alex Benay, the president and CEO of the Canada Science and Technology Museums Corp., says Space Frontier is the first of a series of space exhibition games that will cover a variety of different planets in the solar system.

“Every planet has their own environment. Mars is rich in certain minerals, some of Saturn’s moons are ice planets (and) they each pose different challenges and we want to introduce science and education of the solar system to anyone playing these games.”

He declined to say how much the game, which took eight months to complete, cost. It was developed by Toronto-based Seed Interactive.

Space Frontier follows another game commissioned by the Science and Technology Museum, an aviation simulator named Ace Academy: Black Flight.

“For us, as a museum, we want to say a video game is the same as an exhibition on the floor and should be treated with the same amount of respect,” Benay says. “We’re the only museum in the world who is this active in the gaming industry because we want to hit our target audience, which are youth focused and we understand they are very digital natives.”

He says Space Frontier was downloaded 5,000 times in 180 countries within two weeks of its release in mid-October.