In April 2022, Elon Musk had just finished playing a video game with Grimes when he made an offer to buy Twitter. He and the musician, with whom he has three children, played until 5am. Elden Ring, a new war and empire-building video game, released a few months ago. Immediately after the meeting, he launched a hostile bid to acquire the social media company, tweeting at 7:23 a.m., “I made an offer,” along with a link to an SEC filing disclosing the proposal.
Understanding Musk’s obsession with video games is key to understanding his “intensity, focus, competitiveness, stubbornness and love of strategy,” according to Walter Isaacson’s biography, Elon Musk, released Tuesday. It’s no wonder: The billionaire lives his life as if he’s been playing video games. From making seemingly reckless business decisions, like trading on Twitter, to how he designed self-driving cars and rocket ships without regard for safety, Musk continues to take huge risks with little fear of the consequences.
Musk’s favorite video game is a multiplayer strategy game called Battle of Dotopia. In this colorful, cartoon-style game, players race to develop technology, control resources and wage battles to build an empire. Isaacson wrote that Musk spent hours playing the game and once was so involved that he was late for a business meeting.
Musk learned life lessons from the game, which he calls “Dotopia Life lessons. ” Among them: “Don’t be afraid to fail” and “Play life like a game.”
“Don’t be afraid of losing”
“You’re going to lose,” Musk said. “It hurts the first fifty times. When you get used to losing, you play every game with less emotion.”
Entrepreneur and venture capitalist Peter Thiel told Isaacson that while most entrepreneurs are risk-averse, Musk is addicted to the thrill of risk. Just look at Musk’s businesses, which include billion-dollar Tesla and SpaceX.
“The wisdom in Silicon Valley is that these are wildly wild bets,” Thiel said. “But if two crazy companies can work that everyone thinks can’t work, then you say to yourself, ‘I think Elon understands the risks that others don’t.'”
Despite claiming that playing “the game” with “less emotion” increases the odds of success, Musk is notorious for his angry moods, also known as “demon mode.”
“Demon mode is when he falls into darkness and retreats into the storm in his brain,” Grimes said.
An example of Musk embodying his alter ego was at the Tesla factory in Fremont, California in 2018. Isaacson described Musk prowling the factory floor, dynamically reprogramming the factory’s production and even eliminating robots that performed certain tasks to speed up production.
Musk said that on a good day, he makes a hundred command decisions on the court. “At least 20 percent will be wrong and we will change them later, but if I don’t make a decision we will die,” he said.
“Elon is going crazy,” Mark Juncosa, one of Musk’s closest colleagues at SpaceX, told Isaacson.
“Play life like a game”
Musk’s other Dotopia The life lesson is “play life like a game”. In that case, Musk is the protagonist and the rest of us are just NPCs, or non-playable characters.
When Grimes recorded a character in a video game Cyberpunk 2077Musk arrived at the studio with a 200-year-old gun and insisted that the video game maker give him a cameo because the cybernetic implants in the game were similar to those he was working on at brain chip startup Neuralink similar.
“I told them I was armed but not dangerous,” Musk said.
In another instance, Musk took venture capitalist Michael Moritz on an “absolutely shocking ride” in a Lotus prototype to try to convince him to invest in Tesla. Moritz, who ran Sequoia Capital at the time, didn’t bite.
Isaacson said Musk’s obsession with video games dates back to his childhood. Musk bought his first computer when he was 11 years old.By the time he was 13, he had programmed his own video game called smell, and sold it for $500. During his teenage years, he was known for playing hotline arcade games at malls so he could play for free for hours, and even considered opening his own arcade. He even interned at a video game company and hoped to become a video game designer, but he “wanted to have a bigger impact,” Musk told Isaacson. Still, the billionaire has used video games to hone tactical skills and strategic thinking, which he has applied throughout his career.
“I feel like this,” venture capitalist Shivon Zilis, with whom the billionaire has two children, once told Musk, “as a kid, you’re playing one of those strategy games and your mom puts it Unplug it, and then you don’t play anymore.” Without noticing, you continue to play life like a game. “