My boss recently purchased Elite Dangerous for VR. He’s not particularly far along in the game. He’s mostly doing the “Space Trucker” thing. He picks up cargo in this space station, takes it over to that one, gets a small profit even after buying new fuel and doing light repairs, repeat, improve the ship and optimize for this, or that, or the other, do another run, then another, then upgrade the weaponry… and he’s recently started taking small pirate bounties that are worth about twice what a good trucking run used to give him.
He found a program that allowed him to put an image of his desktop in any VR game he was playing and so he puts Netflix up on his desktop and moves his desktop to where the passenger sun visor would be in an automobile and that lets him watch his shows while hes doing his thing. (I imagine that it’s easier to watch your show while you’re space trucking than when you’re bounty hunting.)
I thought that the game was really cool back when I thought it was mostly space trucking and some light bounty hunting and he showed me, no, it’s *HUGE*. The galactic map is pretty much The Milky Way. There are billions and billions of stars and if you want to find one that no one has boldly found before, you can have fun just jumping star systems and making space maps of various systems and then selling them.
He also pointed out that, hey, it’s big enough to go from here to there for you to run out of fuel. He told the story of getting to a star system and immediately running out of fuel so he had to turn on his hydrogen scoop on his ship and get close enough to the sun in this star system and stealing enough hydrogen to limp to the space station. Which, you know, is kinda ingenious (if implausible… not for the hydrogen, mind, for the shielding that could withstand getting close enough to steal a usable amount of hydrogen).
And that’s when he told me about the Fuel Rats.
The Fuel Rats are a clan of enthusiastic amateurs whose mission is to get to you when you’ve run out of fuel and get your tank topped back off. Go to their website. Press the button. Tell them where you are. They will take it as their personal mission to get to you before your life support runs out, fill your tank, and send you on your way. Between everybody in the clan, they’ve done this 40,000 times.
“How much do they charge you for this?”
“It’s free. They enjoy the challenge.”
And so this game, that has games within the game, has a handful of people who have created a game of finding people stranded out in the middle of nowhere and saving their virtual lives/ships.
So… what are you playing?
(Picture is HG Wells playing a war game from Illustrated London News (25 January 1913))