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The Man Who Won Tetris
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The Man Who Won Tetris

September 10, 2009 Article Start Previous Page 5 of 5

Do you still have the rights to [The Black Onyx]?

HR: Oh sure.

Have you ever thought of doing anything with it?

HR: Yeah, I did. I do. I have meetings. [laughs]

Because finally, here I am. I'm totally focused on getting the platform ready, which is Blue Mars. We could totally build an immersive Black Onyx on Blue Mars.

So you're really thinking of Blue Mars as a very extensible platform.

HR: Oh yeah. You can do anything there. My inspiration for what to do on Blue Mars is Edgar Rice Burroughs' "John Carter of Mars" series.

You go to some part of Mars, and it's, "Oh my god, there's a whole civilization that we didn't know about on that part of Mars." That's kind of how I look forward to populating Mars, and there will be a secret little location where all of a sudden you get there and you think, "Oh my gosh, I didn't know this was here."

I live on the big island [in Hawaii] half of the time. On the coast, there are all these lava flows that go down to the ocean. It's just barren rock. Barren rock. And when I first went there, it was barren rock right down to the ocean.

Now, all of a sudden -- boom, a resort pops up. They grind the rock up, they make golf courses. They grind it up and make little plots where people build houses. They pipe in water or they desalinate water. All of a sudden, it's like a little tropical paradise in what used to be a lunar landscape.

Blue Mars

It's terraforming. That's what's going on there. So, that whole coast went from being wasteland to being super expensive real estate now. You know, people pay $20 million for beachfront property. There's no beach, it's just rock.

It gives you an idea of what we can do, what we humans can do, when we put our minds to it. If we look at it now, it looks like a pretty barren place, but you know what? When we get through with it, it's going to be paradise. Maybe, just maybe, when we create it from scratch, maybe we'll take care of it a little better.

You're saying we might think of it more like a personal investment.

HR: Yeah. Exactly. Right now, it feels like we're just taking from the Earth. We're taking the fish out of the ocean. We're taking the fuel from underground. We're just taking, taking, taking. Whereas on Mars, we won't be able to do any of that. We'll have to create. I think that's ultimately our reason for existence: We have to create things.

How far out do you look, on an ongoing basis? How do you get there? How do we get there?

HR: You know, it's just a question of doing it. I was at a conference easily, and Elon Musk spoke. And he says, "Just do it," you know? Don't whine about it, just do it. He wants to go to Mars.

You know who Elon Musk is? Elon Musk is the guy who sold PayPal to eBay for $1.5 billion. And for an encore, he built a new energy company called Solar City where he puts solar panels on your roof and sells you electricity. And then his second business is Tesla Motors.

By the way, I got my Tesla two weeks ago.


HR: Oh yeah! That sucker is awesome. It's an electric car. It is the way. We generate electricity using alternative energy sources, and we drive electric cars. How hard can it be? And guess what? I smoke any gas-powered car in Hawaii. I leave them in the dust. It's not even close. It's a joke. It looks like they're standing still. I got so much torque.

His third company is called SpaceX. This is the first private company in the United States that has launched satellites into space. Everybody else is going through NASA, and NASA is five times more expensive. [Space X's] normal rockets are being launched from Kwajalein [Atoll], because it's close to equatorial orbit.

But now they're building big ones that are going to carry astronauts to the space stations. He's got the contract for ferrying astronauts to the space station, because they're discontinuing the shuttle next year.

That's just the entrepreneurial spirit of, "I want to do this."

So you see the free market driving most of this?

HR: Oh, absolutely. And I see the American spirit. He's not American. He's like me, he's an import. He's originally from South Africa. But if he was in South Africa, he would not have been able to do a tenth of what he's doing now. The fact that he's come here, and this country and this system enables us to do all these things, it just means they're going to get done. So, yeah. I have great faith in the system.

It's nice to hear optimism.

HR: I think that, as the game business, we have visions of the future. I'm just a little bit ticked off that most of those visions are destructive. You know what I'm saying? It's so much holocaust and hell. You know, that kind of stuff. I don't think it has to be that way.

I think we can and we will make heaven in virtual reality. And that's what we're doing.

Article Start Previous Page 5 of 5

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