Neil deGrasse Tyson is Creating a New Space Exploration Video Game with the Help of George R.R. Martin & Neil Gaiman

Although Neil deGrasse Tyson is somewhat hesitant to go in on plans to terraform and colonize Mars, that doesn’t mean he doesn’t like a good ol’–yet science-based–video game. Several outlets announced recently that the videogame Space Odyssey, spearheaded by deGrasse Tyson–one of America’s main defenders of logic and Enlightenment–has surpassed its Kickstarter funding goal. The game promises to send players on “real science-based missions to explore space, colonize planets, create and mod in real time.”

In the game, according to deGrasse Tyson, “you control the formation of planets, of comets, of life, civilization. You could maybe tweak the force of gravity and see what effect that might have.” It will be, he says, “an exploration into the laws of physics and how they shape the world in which we live.”

The game has been forming for several years now, and most importantly to our readers, has called in several sci-fi and fantasy writers to help create the various worlds in the game, as they have aptly demonstrated their skills in doing so on the printed page. That includes George R.R. Martin, currently ignoring whatever HBO is doing to his creation Game of Thrones; Neil Gaiman, who creates a new universe every time he drops a new novel; and Len Wein, who has had a hand in creating both DC’s Swamp Thing and Marvel’s Wolverine. Also on board: deGrasse Tyson’s buddy Bill Nye, former NASA astronaut Mike Massimino, and astrophysicist Charles Liu.

The idea of world/galaxy-building is not new in video games, especially recently. No Man’s Sky (2015) features “eighteen quintillion full-featured planets” and Minecraft seems limitless. But Space Odyssey (still a temporary title!) is the first to have deGrasse Tyson and friends working the controls in the background. And a game is as good as the visionaries behind it.


According to the Kickstarter page, the raised funds will go into “the ability to have this community play the game and engage with it while the final build is underway. As the Kickstarter gaming community begins to beta test game-play and provide feedback, we can begin to use the funds raised via Kickstarter to incorporate your modding, mapping and building suggestions, together building the awesome gaming experience you helped to create.”

DeGrasse Tyson will be in the game himself, urging players onward. There’s no indication whether Mr. Martin will be popping up, though.

Related Content:

Neil deGrasse Tyson: “Because of Pink Floyd, I’ve Spent Decades Undoing the Idea That There’s a Dark Side of the Moon”

David Byrne & Neil deGrasse Tyson Explain the Importance of an Arts Education (and How It Strengthens Science & Civilization)

Are We Living in a Computer Simulation?: A 2-Hour Debate with Neil Degrasse Tyson, David Chalmers, Lisa Randall, Max Tegmark & More

Ted Mills is a freelance writer on the arts who currently hosts the artist interview-based FunkZone Podcast and is the producer of KCRW’s Curious Coast. You can also follow him on Twitter at @tedmills, read his other arts writing at and/or watch his films here.

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  • Steven says:

    Yeah, no. George RR Martin doesn’t know anything about this:

    Neither does Neil Gaiman:

    And on the Kickstarter-Site a commentator explains that:

    “Explore New Worlds – Players can also explore galaxies created by other players, including prominent scientists and fictional world-builders like Tyson, Bill Nye, George R.R. Martin, Neil Gaiman, and Peter Beagle.

    That does not say that they are involved, it is simply an example reference of the types of worlds you wil visit.”

    Looks rather scammy to me.

    • Dan Colman says:


      I’m not sure what the bottom line is here.

      In a recent Daily Beast interview with Tyson, they referenced the collaboration. And it wasn’t something that Tyson disavowed.

      Daily Beast: In a recent episode of your podcast StarTalk, you discussed the science behind Game of Thrones. And I know Thrones author George R.R. Martin is involved in Space Odyssey as a world-builder. What did you think of the premiere episode?

      Tyson: I’m Down Under and I had to, like, hack into three different computer systems to see the thing. No, but we did see it legitimately. It is fascinating how much they’re investing in this world that they’ve created. Interestingly, it had no boobs in it! I think the best part was the end just because that sets up the whole season right there—coming back to the castle [Daenerys returning to Dragonstone] and everyone gazing upon it. Initially, I thought the scene was a little too extended, like alright I get it everyone’s coming back, but you need that to develop the mood for future episodes.
      For me, Game of Thrones is not so much why everyone else likes it, but I like that they’re creating a world that needs to be self-consistent. Winter is coming, so what does that mean? I’m thinking about it as an astrophysicist: What kind of planet would that be? What kind of orbit would it have? What kind of star is it? It’s clearly not Earth, although they’re all humans—well, except for the dragons!

      Hard to know what to make of it.


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