Before Elon Musk became fascinated with space travel and electric vehicles, he was a kid who played a lot of video games.
Speaking at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) computer game convention in Los Angeles earlier this month, Musk explored the effect video games had on his vision and the careers of engineers around the world.
“Part of the reason, maybe the reason, I got interested in tech was video games,” Musk said. He also said that he definitely wouldn’t have started programming if it weren’t for video games, or if it weren’t for video games, he wouldn’t have been as interested in computers and technology. He thinks video games are a very strong force to get young kids involved in technology; they have a far bigger knock-on impact than people would know.
Musk is speaking from experience. At just 12 years old, he programmed and released a space combat game called “Blastar,” which was later sold for $500 to the PC and Workplace Technology Journal. He used to work at a gaming startup. And while his more recent birthdays may have been spent pulling all-nighters to Tesla, Musk once celebrated his birthday by calling for a life-size statue of Vault Boy – a fictional mascot character from the Fallout video game.
But Musk is not the only one who has sought motivation – and achievement – by games. The connection between the two is evident as he interviews his potential staff.
Musk said : “If we’re interviewing somebody for a software engineering role at Tesla or SpaceX, many times we’ll [ask], ‘How’d you start programming?’”
I believe many of the greatest software developers in the world are at or have spent a lot of their career at, video game houses,” Musk says, stressing how problem-solving in video games transfers to problem-solving in software engineering.
For the Tesla Musk team, improved graphics in video games allow them to properly simulate self-driving vehicles with the aid of artificial intelligence. He’s working with his simulation team to create a photo-realistic world of what he claims are some of the most boring things: asphalt skid marks, concrete curves, shadows, and faded street lines. These simulations were critical to the creation of autopilot vehicles, which are expected to be completely rolled out next year.
He also credited the Cyberpunk video game as an inspiration to the Tesla pickup truck.
Musk wasn’t just at E3 boasting about his new pickup truck. He revealed the inclusion of video games to Tesla vehicles—drivers will play games on the car’s center screen when docking at the charging station. He also hinted at designing games for his space capsules on his way to Mars.