Simultaneous cooperative starship bridge simulators

I’ve played Artemis a few times now. It is, as I’ve said, a pretty revolutionary concept. It’s not quite an RPG, not quite a LAN game, not quite a LARP… Artemis is pretty much its own genre. In my head, I’ve taken to calling it a live-action computer-moderated RPG.

And then there are the boardgames along the same lines… The FASA Star Trek Bridge Simulator is, I think, probably the ancestor of all these games. But there have been several more in recent years that work along similar lines.

As I’ve now discovered, Artemis isn’t just a game — it’s now a genre. There are several other games out there with a similar conceit and format. What should we call them? For lack of a punchier term, I’m calling them Simultaneous Cooperative Starship Bridge Simulators. Here are the ones I know of:



Silly or serious?

Open source?

Played in a camper converted to look like a starship?

FASA Star Trek Bridge Simulator Boardgame/RPG Pretty serious No, but then it’s tabletop Maybe?
Artemis Starship Bridge Simulator Computer-moderated Pretty serious No Maybe?
Space Nerds in Space Computer-moderated Pretty serious Yes Maybe?
Space Alert Boardgame Somewhat serious No, but then it’s tabletop Maybe?
LHS Bikeshed Computer-based, with human controller Fairly silly No Yes
Spaceteam Computer-moderated Very silly No? Maybe?
Space Cadets Boardgame Pretty silly No, but then it’s tabletop Maybe?

And that’s just the ones that I know about. I assume there are more! (Please comment to tell me new ones that I haven’t listed.)

What do I make of all this? First off, it’s really cool that these games exist.

Second, it’s interesting that so many of them are modeled so closely on Star Trek. Perhaps because the original game was the Star Trek Combat Simulator. Perhaps because Star Trek is just such a huge cultural juggernaut — probably second only to Star Wars for SF cultural cachet, if that. Perhaps because so many of us think of the Enterprise when we think of a crew working together. (Interesting to note that the Honorverse people at Convergence 2013 were running what amounts to a Star Trek simulator in their room. Star Trek, not Honorverse.)

Third, I find it particularly fascinating that there are so many of them. “Simultaneous cooperative starship bridge simulators” has to be a pretty niche type of game, doesn’t it? Yet there are at least seven of them out there.


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