What social systems, structures and practices can best sustain human communities in space?

The toughest challenges in space exploration aren’t technological. They’re social, political, and cultural. We’re finding solutions by engaging the public in the scientific process. Our method is play.

Port of Mars is a game where the players are citizens of Mars charged with creating systems, solving problems, and working together to provide for the sustained welfare of the community. All player actions are tracked and analyzed. Researchers will examine what behaviors worked, and what failed. Each instance of gameplay is a simulation, a modeling exercise for future human communities in space.

Port of Mars: Goals

  • Produce new knowledge useful to stakeholders in space exploration.
  • Create a fun, engaging game.
  • Engage the public in actively solving problems for the future of humans in space


Port of Mars: Images & Concept Art

Concept art by Derek Smoker

ED Red

Design by Brunella Provvidente

Space Open

Design by Brunella Provvidente

Space Open

Design by Brunella Provvidente

Concept game cards designed by Peter Slattery

PoM Key

Illustration by Titus Lunter


John Marty Anderies

Jonathan Charlton

Lance Gharavi

Oriana Gil Perez

Tanya Harrison

Kevin Hubbard

Marco Janssen

Samantha Johnson

Paul Martin

Brian Nelson

Julia Oleksiak

Rae Ostman

Kim Stanley Robinson

Andrew Ryan

Laura Schaefer

Derek Smoker

Joshua Thompson

Phil Weaver-Stoesz

Michael Yichao

Patrick Young


Classroom Research

Research and public engagement are typically separate affairs. Port of Mars fuses these activities, involving the public directly in the act of scientific inquiry.