The majority of video games are designed solely for entertainment, with only a select few able to successfully blend education into the mix. When they're able to do so, real-world concepts can be taught through an entertaining and engaging medium.
Kerbal Space Program has found success here in recent years, by educating players on traditionally difficult subjects such as aerodynamics and orbital manoeuvres, all while retaining a sense of achievement and fun.
What is it?
Kerbal Space Program is a space flight simulator developed by Squad, a marketing company which now develops one of the highest selling games on digital distribution platform Steam.
Players assume control of a space program run by small creatures called Kerbals, and are required to carry out missions to earn funding (a sandbox mode is also available). Commonly these missions involve constructing a spacecraft, launching and controlling it into orbit, and then carrying out any required manoeuvres.
While constructing the spacecraft is relatively easy, piloting the craft is anything but. The game features an extremely steep learning curve, often taking players a great deal of trial and error to perfect even basic orbital techniques.
Reaching the in-game Moon (called the Mun) is a mammoth undertaking, requiring extensive planning and test flights to perfect the necessary technologies. Visiting other planets in the virtual solar system is harder still, and failure is often only a slight mistake away.
Kerbal Space Program has the real potential to influence younger generations, prompting interest in science and space like never before.
Certainly, the sales thus far are a good indicator of what can be accomplished with further development. It's likely that other games will follow a similar path to success over the next few years, blending difficult concepts with fun gameplay.