SETI Institute Game Jam Challenges Developers to Riff on the Search for Life in the Universe


The SETI-Jam will Leverage Latest Science and Data to Inspire Learning.

Mountain View, Calif. – September 11, 2014 – The SETI Institute, the world’s only organization dedicated to researching the origin and nature of life in the universe, has today announced SETI-JAM, the first game development jam to utilize SETI Institute research findings, data, and input from key scientists. SETI-JAM is for game developers of every experience level interested in collaborating to create games on the theme of the Drake Equation, which is used to estimate the number of communicative extraterrestrial civilizations in the Milky Way Galaxy. While this equation is the theme for SETI-JAM, participants will also have access to actual data of over 70 scientists at the SETI Institute, including research on asteroids, the search for extraterrestrial intelligence, extrasolar planet detection, earthquake prediction, climate change, the birth of stars, and much more. This game jam is the first in a new SETI Institute Initiative to use games to engage the public in real science and the search for life in the universe.

“At The SETI Institute we have a passion for discovery and for sharing knowledge with the world. We see gaming as a terrific vehicle to engage with the public on real science and research,” said Karen Randall, Director of Special Projects at The SETI Institute. “By giving game developers direct access to our scientists and research we hope to kick-start a new effort using games to bring real science to the public. We can’t wait to see what the devs can come up with!”

SETI-JAM will take place October 17-19 at the SETI Institute in Mountain View, California. Satellite locations include Gjovik University in Norway and the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, with more to be announced at a later date. Developers are free to make games of any genre, but all must integrate real SETI Institute data. Developers will have live access to the expertise of leading SETI scientists who will be on-site to explain their research data.

The Drake Equation, written in 1961 by the “Father of SETI”, Frank Drake, is a model to estimate the number of active extraterrestrial civilizations in the Milky Way Galaxy. The equation illustrates the breadth of scientific expertise needed to answer the question “Are We Alone?” and to explore all possibilities for life in the universe. Scientists representing each term of the equation will be at SETI-JAM.


Registration for the game jam opens on September 29th on

A number of game industry leaders are supporting the SETI-Institute by serving as advisors to SETI-JAM:

  • Ryan Williams, Director of Engineering, SpryFox Games
  • Rob Jagnow, Founder & CEO, Lazy 8 Studios
  • Brendan Mauro, Lead Artist, Lazy 8 Studios
  • Brandon Sheffield, Director, Necrosoft Games
  • Pete Angstadt, Co-Founder, Turtle Sandbox
  • Keith Nemitz, Principal Developer, Mousechief Co.

The SETI Institute’s mission is to  explore, understand, and explain the origin and nature of life in the universe, and to apply the knowledge gained to inspire and guide present and future generations.. A private, nonprofit organization dedicated to scientific research, education, and public outreach, SETI is made up of three centers: the Center for SETI Research, the Carl Sagan Center for the Study of Life in the Universe, and the SETI Center for Education and Public Outreach.

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About The SETI Institute

The SETI Institute is a multi-disciplinary, highly collaborative, research organization designed to explore, understand, and explain the origin, nature and prevalence of life in the universe utilizing expertise in fields ranging from astrophysics and planetary science to biology and social science, as well as computer science and signal detection.  We have a passion not only for discovery, but also for sharing knowledge as scientific ambassadors to the public, the press, and the government.  The SETI Institute is a distinguished partner for government agencies, academic institutions, and corporations around the world.


Media Contacts

Andrew Karl
TriplePoint PR, for the SETI Institute
(415) 955-8500