I’m going reveal my geeky roots… When I was a kid, my friends and I would play Star Trek. Homemade wooden phasers, climbing trees for pretend planets, and creating stories as we went. Not a lot of technology involved — it was just us, goofing around, having fun.

I’m not sure I could convince my friends today to play it, but Artemis may be close to the modern equivalent.

Artemis simulates a spaceship bridge by networking several computers together. One computer runs the simulation and the “main screen”, while the others serve as workstations for the normal jobs a bridge officer might do, like Helm, Communication, Engineering, and Weapon Control. Artemis is a social game where several players are together in one room (“bridge”) , and while they all work together, one player plays the Captain, a person who sits in the middle, doesn’t have a workstation, and tells everyone what to do.

The on-screen interfaces are basic. But it’s the way that the game gets players to interact with each other that’s so amazing. Take a look at the videos below to get a sense of the range of play that can emerge. (There are tons more on the Artemis site’s media page.)

People may not video themselves when they play Scrabble — but role playing games have been around for a while. What makes Artemis special is its all-in-the-same-room structure, and the way it controls time. It would be interesting to see how its mechanics might be translated to other, broader, audiences and activities.

(I learned about Artemis from this BERG blog post. Wired and Gamasutra also have interesting discussions on it.)