Elon Musk’s 6 favorite video games have one common theme
The tech entrepreneur likes to play games to unwind. Here's what he plays.
Elon Musk, the CEO of electric car firm Tesla and space-faring firm SpaceX, is a gamer.
We've known this since he revealed his Overwatch main in 2017 (if not even earlier), but over the weekend, the tech entrepreneur responded via Twitter to a question about his favorite video games. While Musk's firms have been busy developing even faster supercars and sending the first humans to Mars, it seems he has a bit of time left over to enjoy some games. Oh, and he's a PC gamer.
It's a little-known fact that Musk actually has some experience in the video game industry. At just 12 years old, Musk got his game Blastar published in South African magazine PC and Office Technology back in 1984. YouTuber Scott Manley explained how Musk then went on to work for Rocket Science Games back in 1994, prior to his eventual jumpstart at PayPal.
In the years since, it seems Musk's tastes have gravitated toward action games with a deep storyline, ones that look at some of the biggest problems that could change society: What if aliens enslaved humanity? Or a plague swept through society? Or an entrepreneur tried to live out his objectivist dreams?
Here's what made his top list:
6. Deus Ex — The 2000 action game is still hailed as a masterpiece 20 years later. JC Denton is an augmented human investigator working for the United Nations Anti-Terrorist Coalition, working to get to the bottom of a plague in a dystopian science fiction world. Players are given choices of how to achieve their goals as they grapple with a wide-reaching conspiracy with several forces. The original spawned three follow-ups, but the first series in the game is still held in high regard today.
5. Half-Life 2 — Valve's 2004 follow-up to its first-person shooter classic raised the bar for video games. Mute protagonist Gordon Freeman is awakened on a train pulling in to City 17, the capital of a dystopian society that emerged after Half-Life brought aliens to Earth. The incredible attention to detail captures a heavily-oppressed human race where everyone is monitored, a power balance that gradually shifts as the player gets their hands on imaginative weapons like the gravity gun.
4. Bioshock — This 2007 first-person shooter depicts an underwater city once governed on the principles of Ayn Rand objectivism. The game's opening scenes see a recording of founder Andrew Ryan asking, "Is a man not entitled to the sweat of his brow?" These words start the player on a journey to uncover the secrets in the underwater city of Rapture and discover what happened to Ryan's deregulation utopia — regulation, of course, is a topic close to Musk's heart.
3. Mass Effect 2 — The 2010 choose-your-own space adventure was a smash hit on launch. Continuing both Commander Shepard and the player's own journey from three years prior, Mass Effect 2 asks players to tackle a galaxy-spanning mission that sets them across the Milky Way. With Musk's firm SpaceX working on interplanetary travel, it's perhaps easy to see why Shepard's story appeals to him.
2. Fallout 3 & New Vegas — This 2008 classic role-playing game, and its 2010 spin-off, chronicle the world after a nuclear disaster that left its Washington, D.C. setting obliterated. It's a bleak setting, but one that's contrasted with cultural references to the mid-20th century, references that harken back to a more optimistic vision of the future. As with almost all the games on this list, the Fallout series offers an unflinching vision of a massively-transformed society.
1. Saints Row IV — The main exception to the above is perhaps this 2013 action-adventure game. Picking up from where its predecessor left off, you play as President of the United States as he fends off an alien invasion. It's wacky, off-the-wall, and features the sort of humor seen in Musk's other beloved shows.
The Inverse Analysis — While the list hits some critically-acclaimed classics, there's one notable omission. Although Musk has a clear interest in deep, dystopian works that tackle the future of society – and he's expressed interest before in creating a mecha – Metal Gear Solid was never mentioned. One for next time, perhaps?