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Privatized? No Sweat! U.S. Space Program Should Steal Ideas From Video Games

Now that the U.S. space program is being told to rely on private enterprise for crucial programs such as the Space Shuttle and Moon missions, our nation is going to have to find better reasons to heave men skyward than mere “scientific discovery.” But the most likely solution is already woven into the very fabric of our national culture! Now that progress is out the window, what could be more American than voyaging to the stars in search of filthy, void-tainted lucre?

We here at Geekosystem believe firmly that both N.A.S.A. and private companies should look to video games for models on how to monetize mankind’s outward urge. Humans have been piloting imaginary spacecraft through the digital aether since way before they began exploiting space for pecuniary advantage; below are some of the ideas our best and brightest video games designers have dreamed up over the years.

Satellite Microwave Power

Featured in: Simcity

Pro: Completely clean power! Beamed from the sun! Pleases both carbon-conscious  environmentalists, and hard-nosed, bottom-line corporate types.

Con: AAAAAAAAAAA THE BEAM MISSED WHY IS MY CITY ON FIRE


Interstellar Trade

Featured in: Elite, Strange Adventures in Infinite Space, Wing Commander: Privateer

Pro: Exploring unknown corners of the galaxy! Haggling with exotic merchants! Conducting swashbuckling battles against space pirates!

Con: Needs multiple settled worlds in order for trade routes to be profitable, and thus unworkable without either optimistic parameters for the Drake Equation or cross-dimensional colonization.


Off-World Bioengineering

Featured in: System Shock 2

Pro: BioTech is totally hot right now! Investors will be beating down your door to get in on your plan to exploit xenomorphs for pharmaceutical purposes.

Con: The creatures you create will inevitably develop intelligence, break free, subsume your genome into that of a hive, and, as your independent consciousness fades, laugh as your amino acids are ripped apart coil by coil to feed their biomass.


Planetary-level Exploitation

Featured in: Albion, Spaceward Ho!, Dune 2, Sins of a Solar Empire

Pro: Why muck around in the vastness of space when you can gradually strip an entire world of its material wealth, then transport it directly back to your home planet?

Con: Lenin called this one – once you’re exploiting whole planets, there’s not really any way to expand your market. Or is there?


Asteroid Mining

Featured in: Eve Online, Doom, M.U.L.E., Final Fantasy IV

Pro:

1. The 1856 Guano Islands Act allows American citizens to claim — as U.S. soil! — uninhabited islands containing large amounts of guano.

2. Many asteroids contain nitrates, a major component of guano.

3. Asteroids are sort of like islands.

4. Therefore, Americans are already allowed to just take over whatever asteroids they want. We wouldn’t even have to pass a law!

Con: As we all know from Spelljammer, mineral-rich asteroids may contain hostile space dwarves.

Eve Online, Doom, M.U.L.E., Final Fantasy IV

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