A Slower Speed of Light

(via Boing Boing) I played through "A Slower Speed of Light," the new video game by the MIT Game Lab, twice today.  Which, I mean, only takes like ten minutes.  But still.

The gameplay is incredibly simple.  You just move around (WASD, mouse) and collect orbs.  Every time you get an orb, though, the speed of light slows down, so when you start moving, you're moving closer to the speed of light, and therefore closer to the qualities of special relativity.  Some of these qualities include:

  • Red/blue shift:  The world turns into this surreal rainbow whenever you're moving.  At high enough speeds, if you look behind you, there's this deep blackness, because you're moving away from the light faster than the light can catch up to you.  It scared the crap out of me when I first noticed it.
  • Lorentz Transformation: the distance between you and other stuff changes when you're moving close to the speed of light.  I don't really understand what was going on with this, but it becomes more difficult to navigate.
  • Expanded visual range:  When you're moving fast enough, you start to see different kinds of light.  The stuff ahead of you looks bluer than it really is, but the creatures walking around look bright red, because they're giving off infra-red light.

They're also releasing the software as open source, so other developers can make more complicated games that involve changes in the speed of light, or near-lightspeed behavior ingame.

You can download the game for Mac or PC here, on the game's website.