Elon Musk, with the big questions. “We could be somebody’s video game right now. Whose avatar are you?” For E3 2019’s final day, real-life Tony Stark and Telsa and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk had a conversation on stage with Bethesda Executive Producer Todd Howard, best known for The Elder Scrolls and Fallout franchises. Geoff Keighley hosted the special E3 Coliseum panel.
A recording of the panel event is available on YouTube. Check it out below.
Elon Musk has a storied history in gaming, and told the audience that “he’s been a big fan of video games for a long time.” Fun fact: Elon Musk coded his first game at sold it to a magazine the age of twelve. Musk is also very interested in making games available on in his Tesla line of cars. There are classic Atari games available on the in-car displays that are a fun easter-egg, and now they’ve got Cuphead working as well and are aiming to have it playable this summer.
Elon Musk made a lot of comments showing support for gaming as an interest, saying that it was a catalyst for getting him interested in technology. “I probably wouldn’t have started programming if it wasn’t for vide games,” he said during the Coliseum. Musk also mentioned John Carmack, co-founder of id Software and lead programmer of many of the original games that Bethesda produces now, saying that Carmack “is also a really good aerospace engineer. The problem solving does transfer.”
Video games are a very powerful force for getting kids interested in technology.
Todd Howard added a story abut Carmack. “Carmack told me the best anecdote. between video games and rocket science. He said rocket AI was actually for him quite easy — you just thrust left, thrust right. Gaming AI is so much harder. The difference is when the game crashes, he presses reboot. When the rocket crashes… it’s a mess spread over several miles.”
Both Musk and Howard had more to say on the Tesla having playable games. Howard announced that he and Musk are “working together” on bringing Bethesda games to Tesla cars. But will it have Skyrim? “We’re gonna start a little smaller,” Howard told the audience that Bethesda is working on porting Fallout Shelter, and added that “it will be free.” Beach Buggy Racing 2 will also be playable using the Tesla’s steering wheel.
Games in the car is a really cool idea, but it’s also, you know, a huge hazard as Teslas are not self-driving yet. “Yes, you have to be in park,” Musk deadpanned when asked about how gaming on a Tesla will work. Tesla is also planning on enabling streaming video to the Tesla display in the near future, if the Tesla is parked and connected to WiFi. Musk suggests it will be a good way to pass time while charging the Tesla’s battery, but the main mission is making the Tesla “the most fun possible.” Should pair well with the Fart app.
Howard made some remarks on the trials and tribulations of their spinoff title Fallout 76, thanking the fans for helping make the game in to “one of the best online communities.” Musk gave encouragement, saying that “uncharted territory will result in failures […] otherwise, you’re not trying hard enough.”
The pair also talked a bit about the upcoming Bethesda project Starfiled and some of the practical engineering questions that come up when making a plausible space-faring RPG.
Elon Musk also mentioned that Tesla is making some kind of Cyberpunk 2077-themed pickup truck, describing it as “something out a movie” that “won’t appeal to everyone.” He says the pickup truck will be (maybe) ready for a reveal at the end of the summer.
A favorite interview subject of Musk’s is simulation theories. “There’s [a joke] about if reality was a video game. The graphics are great… the plot’s terrible, and the spawn time’s really long.” For as supportive of gaming as this Coliseum was, it wouldn’t be Elon Musk if he did say something foreboding about AI.
Talking Fallout 3 with Howard, Musk mused, “AI caused World War III, as I recall?” Musk asked Howard, who responded with “a little bit.”