If you love physics and computer games, then you have come to the right place. Here we have gathered 7 physics-based computer games that will help you learn about some basics of physics and have fun at the same time.
This list is far from exhaustive and is no particular order.
What skills can video games improve?
- Personal accountability;
- Can be used as a form of therapy;
- Can help with friend-making skills;
- They have been shown to improve literacy;
- Games really can help develop multi-tasking;
- Can actually increase gray matter in the brain;
- Games can improve eyesight and hand-eye coordination, and;
- They can improve problem-solving skills.
Why can video games be good for you?
Whilst computer games can consume an inordinate amount of your precious time, that investment might not be a waste of time. This may seem counterintuitive for some, but various studies have shown that games are far from breeding grounds for antisocial behavior, bad health, and depression.
Apart from some of the real-life skills they can develop detailed above, video games have been shown to improve fine motor skills in young children. Decision-making processes tend to also be improved in gamers, especially when decisions need to be taken fast.
But, like anything in life, they should be played in moderation.
Are video games good for learning?
As any teacher will tell you, if you can engage and keep the interest of any student then you are more than halfway. Whilst interactive lessons are great, computer games, it seems, can be a powerful learning aid.
If games are well designed, they can teach players almost sublimely whilst not boring the student. So long as games are educational at their core, they can provide a powerful teaching tool for students and teachers alike.
1. Voyager: Grand Tour is fun and educational
Voyager: Grand Tour is an interesting game for teaching players about physics whilst letting them explore the cosmos. This physics puzzle game enables players to experience the wonders of our solar system in detailed 3D graphics.
Players are taught about the basics of the Voyager probe as well as the basics of some rocket science and other basic physics principles. You will need to plan slingshots around planets, avoid hazards and generally explore space.
After each successful mission players are rewarded with a lovely little flyby from Voyager's POV.
It is free to play but does come with in-game purchases - after all the game developers do need to eat.
2. Tami's Tower is fun for adults and children alike
Tami's Tower, developed by the Smithsonian Science Education Center, is a great little game for children of all ages. The idea of the game is to help Tami (a golden lion tamarin) reach some food by building towers.
Sounds simple enough, but you will need to defy not only gravity but other mischievous animals attempting to thwart Tami's efforts.
This game will teach players about some basic physics and engineering principles, and is, quite frankly, incredibly fun.
As you might have guessed, this educational game has been built to help teach your student how to design a solution to a problem using basic engineering design principles.
3. Phys1 is a great little Physics puzzle game
Phys1 is a great little puzzle game that requires players to use tools, and their ingenuity, to solve various physics problems. The learning experience is bolstered with its excellent feedback feature which helps guide players to improve if needed.
It does have a mildly steep learning curve, but being challenged is a great way to learn and develop your knowledge of something. Each challenge is randomized so you shouldn't have to solve the same problem twice, in fact, your challenge might be the only one any player will ever have to solve.
The game comes with some other cool features like a time tool to measure how long it takes for objects to travel between two points. The interface is drag and drop and should be self-explanatory for any user.
4. Phys2 is another game that will teach you about Physics
Phys2 is another game that will help teach players about some fundamental principles of physics. It brings dynamics and free body diagrams to a nearby galaxy only slightly in the future.
The game is set on various different worlds with each one focussing on a specific aspect of Physics. There are currently four different worlds: -
- Froth - Teaches you about friction, or lack thereof, and net forces on an ice planet;
- Bespent - Teaches players about gravity and force and includes jetpacks!
- Mustaclose - Another world that teaches players about friction and contact forces, and;
- Kamiyes - This planet teaches players about angles and other interesting physics principles.
Players will need to solve physics problems to progress through the game and unlock new abilities and equipment.
Experience challenging worlds and solve puzzles in order to unlock abilities and space gear.
5. Super Planet Crash will make you feel like a God
Super Planet Crash does everything it says on the tin. You can think of this game a bit like a physicists' version of angry birds, only on a planetary scale.
This is a basic gravity game that enables players to understand, or test, the basics of gravity. Players get to design and test their own solar systems and need to pack in as many planets as possible with 2 AUs.
The more massive objects you can add the more points you get, but be careful it could all go horribly wrong.
The game is free to play and is online only.
6. Kerbal Space Program is a classic
Kerbal Space Program might just be the best game around for anyone interested in space and space exploration. This physics-based game will teach you all you really need to know about rockets and spaceship design.
On the surface, it seems oversimplified at first, but it will test your knowledge of rocketry and physics to design a ship that can safely overcome a planet's gravity.
Each part performs a specific function. So get ready for some rocket science and exciting projects that involve mining resources from outer space and capturing asteroids.
It comes in three modes Sandbox, Science Mode and Career mode. Each one has its own mission goals but all are united in their need to manage the space project from crew management to funding and maintaining PR.
7. Universe Sandbox might be the perfect space-lovers game
Universe Sandbox is a fantastic planetary-scale gravity game that will really help you visualize some basic principles of astronomy. This interactive space game combines elements of climate, collision, and real-time gravity to help players understand the fragility of Earth and the beauty of the universe.
This physics-based game has been designed to be as scientifically accurate as possible. You can play around with settings like CO2 levels in a planet's atmosphere to see what happens or boost a star's mass to see how it evolves over time.
You can also smack things with asteroids and watch as molten craters form and cool. This really is a very fun and interesting game for anyone interested in space.
The game also supports VR like Oculus Rift and Vive for a truly interactive gaming experience.