Gaming Enters a New Frontier
SpaceX is using video games to train their civilian astronauts, and that’s just the beginning
There’s a 1984 movie called The Last Starfighter where a young man who is really good at video games finds out that the coin-op machine he’s mastered is actually training him to be a real intergalactic fighter pilot.
In the early 1980s, this was wild sci-fi. In 2023, it may not be that far from the truth.
Although private space exploration company SpaceX isn’t building starfighters (that we know of), they are taking the idea of gamifying the training of civilian astronauts to unprecedented new levels. Level Ex, to be exact.
According to a report from ZDNet, the crew of SpaceX’s Polaris Dawn is using technology developed by video game company Level Ex to train for its new mission, set to launch early this year. Their goal is to study the effects of space travel and radiation on the human body, and ultrasound tech developed by Level Ex has allowed them to train the crew more efficiently – seeing as only one of the four-person team has specialized expertise in medical care and human biology.
This collaboration has always been the goal of Level Ex Founder and CEO Sam Glassenberg, who created Level Ex as means of taking his video game design experience and melding it with medical and scientific research. In short, their mission is the revolutionize the practice of medicine through video games.
“[Level Ex] is accelerating the adoption curve of new treatments and new devices using video game tech and video game design," Glassenberg tells ZDNet. "Space health is just a local extension of that."
In addition to the advanced ultrasound technology that allows the Polaris Dawn crew to accurately simulate the effects of radiation and zero gravity on the human body, Level Ex also has other, more granular, games to help specific disciplines visualize their training beyond space travel. There’s Gastro Ex, where virtual endoscopic equipment is used to simulate gastrointestinal procedures. Cardio Ex turns cardiology into a detective game, while Airway Ex aims to be an invaluable tool for anesthesiologists.
The Polaris Dawn mission is set to launch in March 2023.
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