Tesla Korea recently applied for ratings for 19 in-car games, from old Atari titles, Chess, Backgammon, and Solitaire, to new releases like Cuphead, Stardew Valley, and Fallout Shelter.
This isn’t a sudden approach. At last year’s E3, Tesla CEO Elon Musk already announced that the company would be adding in-car games, which could be played using the steering wheel and brake pedal as controllers.
This could seem like another eccentric behavior from the odd genius that is Musk, but there are relevant reasons why Tesla is looking to have built-in games. First, there’s the charging time. Tesla’s Model 3, for example, takes 1-2 hours to fully charge, and drivers would appreciate content to pass the time.
Second, there’s the upcoming level 5 autonomous driving technology. If fully self-driving systems are implemented, drivers could enjoy all kinds of entertainment in their vehicles, and for Tesla, games are prime candidates.
Elon Musk: The genius who loved games
But why did Elon Musk choose gaming over all the other forms of entertainment? Musk is a well-known gamer, some would say he has a gaming mania, and often speaks about the medium on social media. But that wouldn’t be enough to equip his Teslas with gaming software.
For Musk, the biggest reason why he enjoys gaming and pushes others to try it, is because gaming is a source of creativity. On his E3 2019 panel, Musk said that “video games are a very powerful force for getting young kids interested in technology” and that games were the reason he himself got interested in computers and technology. In a way, Tesla and the Elon Musk of today, exist because of video games.
The in-car games in Musk’s Teslas are just an extension of that love. It has only now begun, so it’s likely that more games are added — perhaps even games that are Tesla care exclusives, given how last year, the company recruited game dev talent.
The “Tesla arcade”: Turning cars into gaming consoles
Most of the registered Tesla Arcade are Atari classics from the 80s, such as Tempest, Super Breakout, Missile Command, and Millipede, which can be enjoyed using the steering wheel or touch screen.
But the Tesla gaming library doesn’t end with them and Backgammon, Solitaire, Chess, and 2018 are serviced too. A respectable catalogue, but not at all impressive. Every smartphone in our pockets allows us to enjoy these, and other, higher quality games than these. But the newest additions to the Tesla Arcade up the ante: there’s Battle of Polytopia, Beach Buggy Racing 2, Cuphead, and Stardew Valley — all of which are quite popular.
The Battle of Polytopia, February 2016
The Battle of Polytopia is a turn-based strategy game developed by Midjiwan AB. The basic game system is similar to that of Civilization. With a 4X system (eXplore, eXpand, eXploit, eXterminate), each tribe has its own unique characteristics, cultures, and abilities. The goal of the game is to conquer the opponent tribes’ capital or cities through diverse strategies and win. You can invest in farming, building, or technology to get ahead of opponents or you could defeat your enemies through adventures or wars.
One of the reasons that The Battle of Polytopia is drawing more attention than the other games is that it’s the first game available on Tesla that you could actually “buckle down” to play. The playtime of a single scenario can be up to about 30 minutes. With the multiplayer mode, you could enjoy the game with up to 12 people, and play for much longer. It would be one of the best games to spend your charging time on.
Beach Buggy Racing 2, December 2018
What better game to enjoy in your Tesla than a racing one? For fans of racing sims, realism is so essential that sizeable peripheral investments like racing wheels and pedals, huge monitors, and gaming chairs are not uncommon.
Now, imagine you’re a racing sim fan, playing Beach Buggy Racing 2 on a Tesla, with the actual steering wheel and actual pedals. Imagine getting more and more top racing sims on the Tesla Arcade. Imagine climbing into a Tesla car just to enjoy those games in the near future.
Cuphead, September 2017
With its watercolor backgrounds and handmade cell animations, Cuphead can also be enjoyed on Tesla Arcade.
Cuphead is a game that got a lot of attention from development to publishing. It sold more than 3 million copies in less than a year and its developers are currently working on a DLC, “The Delicious Last Course”. Even a Netflix animation, the “Cuphead Show”, is in the works.
Unfortunately, the Cuphead on Tesla Arcade isn’t a complete version yet. Due to limits on the car storage, only level 1 is included, and to enjoy the game, an additional controller is necessary.
Stardew Valley, February 2016
Stardew Valley is a simulation game where you can get out of the city to decorate your own farm or ranch, and collect, mine, fish, etc. Expanding the farm isn’t the only thing to do — there are many different achievements, easter eggs, and index systems to enjoy the game better. It has been published on many different platforms so you could meet with other users through multiplayer mode.
Fallout Shelter, June 2015
Fallout Shelter is a game where you manage a shelter in Fallout with everything that entails: you train people, create facilities, solve crises like fires breaking out, or fighting with other survivors. The players become “Overseers” to build different buildings such as lodges, generators, or factories using the existing tribes’ strengths.
Cat Quest, August 2017
If you want a short and solid action experience, Cat Quest can be your choice. It’s an action RPG game where you take control of a cat that is in search of its kidnapped sister. It’s a typical hack and slash game that was published on Steam and console after its success on mobile.
The biggest advantage of Cat Quest is that it minimized the fatigue of RPG games. Most RPGs require a long playtime but Cat Quest has minimized these elements to reduce the sense of fatigue. It can be enjoyed any time, anywhere, making it a great choice to spend extra time while charging.
Sky Force Reloaded, November 2017
Sky Force Reloaded is a game that modernly redesigned the traditional arcade game. With huge bosses and screens full of explosions, it has combined all the best parts of the top-down arcade shooters into one.
There are nine aircrafts and 15 stages in the game, each ending with a boss enemy. To face the bosses conveniently, you have to destroy the enemies and gather stars to upgrade your ship.
Level 2 autonomous driving: Still a long way to go
Tesla Arcade has a bright future, but there’s still a long way to go. In order to introduce more content to the vehicles, games included, the autonomous driving system has to be upgraded first.
The current Tesla Autopilot can be classified as level 2. The Autopilot is said to be autonomous, but at this level, it’s more about assisting drivers with convenience, rather than taking full control. Drivers can’t do other things while driving such as watch movies — the car must be parked for that.
Level 3, however, is said to be different. In level 3, the driver could have limited access to using the phone or watch videos — although they must be ready at all times to take control while seated at the driver’s seat.
From level 4 and above, the system takes full control over the driving and can access everything — no driver is necessary. At this point, passengers can enjoy whatever content they intend.
Of course, there are still many obstacles before this can be achieved. Nevertheless, things that were once sci-fi tropes are slowly becoming everyday life. Soon enough, driving could be fully automated and enjoying games while driving could become mainstream.