For a while, Elon Musk was the chosen one.
The nerdy billionaire not only talked the talk, but walked the walk. On Twitter, he’d reference video games, quantum mechanics and space travel – three things I absolutely adore – while splashing outrageous sums of cash trying to make my childhood dreams a reality. I thought he might, one day, actually crack it and send someone to Mars.
How things change.
Musk’s evolution into rich sci-fi supervillain was cemented last week when he attacked a UK diver involved in the rescue of the Wild Boars.
In a series of tweets – what else? – Musk attacked British diver Vern Unsworth. One said the expat living in Thailand was “sus”. Then he said: “Sorry pedo guy, you really did ask for it.”
Musk, who failed to back up his claims with any kind of evidence, deleted the tweets, but of course the internet never forgets and, sadly, neither will I.
Musk’s descent has made me wish for a Mass Effect patch, which sounds like an odd thing to wish for, but stick with me here – there is a point. I promise.
In Mass Effect: Andromeda, BioWare’s underrated but ultimately not good enough space RPG shooter, you play a Pathfinder who ends up in charge of an expedition to colonise a new world. The setup of the game is sort of like living the Elon Musk dream, isn’t it?
Which is why it makes sense that Musk was immortalised in the Mass Effect universe. On the Tempest, in your private quarters is a set of shelves and on one of them sits a model that looks like the real world Falcon Heavy, a SpaceX construction that went up into space in February 2018 carrying a Tesla Roadster belonging to Musk himself.
If you interact with the model in the game you unlock a codex entry that recounts Mass Effect’s version of our future. In short, Mass Effect says the Falcon Heavy kickstarted humanity’s existence among the stars.
Here’s the codex entry in full (courtesy of the Mass Effect wikia):
“After the historic NASA Apollo moon landings in 1969, the drive for crewed space exploration slowed as government funding dried up. The move towards cheaper unmanned probes and orbital stations gained traction instead, as one of the central obstacles was the expense of creating first-stage booster rockets that would be lost after each flight.
“But the lure of sending people into the cosmos never lost its draw. In the early 21st century, a private company called SpaceX pioneered efforts in sustainable space travel by developing a reusable launch system. It revolutionized the field as the first entity, government or private, to successfully launch and then safely recover an orbital booster rocket intact, allowing it to be reused in future launches. Reusable hardware placed lower-cost, sustainable space travel within reach.
“Galvanized by SpaceX’s achievements, a renaissance in space exploration followed. Reusable launch system technology later became pivotal in establishing the European Space Agency’s first permanent settlement on Mars, Lowell City, in 2103.”
According to Mass Effect, SpaceX sparked a “renaissance in space exploration”, and its reusable launch system tech helped establish our first permanent settlement on Mars in 2103. Can’t wait!
While the codex entry does not name Elon Musk, it’s clearly a nod to the guy. No, it’s more than that – it’s a virtual statue, a shrine, an in-game immortalisation. Musk, Mass Effect tells us, is the chosen one, which is exactly why I’d love it if BioWare patched him out.
I don’t blame BioWare for using Musk in Mass Effect in this way. As I said, for a while, he was the chosen one. But in the context of today’s Musk, the Mass Effect universe is now tarnished. It’s a bit like how Notch continues to throw up on my love of Minecraft with each increasingly offensive tweet. Saint Musk of the order of 21st century space travel should be retroactively scrubbed from the codex of one of my favourite video game series like a drugs cheat who sees their gold medal stripped away years later. Yes, it’s more work. Yes, it’s dredging up a game I imagine BioWare and EA would rather not revisit. But it feels like the right thing to do, you know? Andromeda got a patch to fix its funny faces. Why not a patch to haul would-be martian Musk from the Mass Effect database?
If nothing else, I bet he’d tweet about it.
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