Elon Musk, gaming supernerd

by Brian Fung and Andrea Peterson  |  published on January 8, 2015

Elon Musk has grand visions of colonizing Mars and building a corporate empire to stand the test of time. So perhaps it’s no surprise he counts Mass Effect and Civilization among his favorite video game franchises.

In a Q&A on reddit Monday, Musk included the sci-fi shooter and the strategy classic in a long list of games he kicks back with when he’s not tweaking Tesla’s fuel efficiency or trying to land a rocket on a platform in the middle of the ocean.

“Hard to pick a favorite,” he said. “I tend to like [first-person shooters] with a story, like Bioshock, Fallout or Mass Effect, but was also a big fan of Civ and Warcraft.”

Hardcore gamers might chuckle and point out that Mass Effect is technically a third-person shooter, where the camera sits behind the playable character’s shoulder. But Musk’s answer also speaks to the way video games reflect or even influence our worldview and decision-making.

Here’s an example. To progress in Civilization, players must research a number of technologies that unlock new units, abilities and infrastructure upgrades. These technologies are arranged in a “tree”: You can’t research Literature before mastering the art of Writing, and you can’t build the Great Library until you discover Literature.

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