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Re­al­iz­ing that money is a curse in Elite Dan­ger­ous

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Money is ev­ery­thing in Elite. The rea­son you fight, the rea­son you ex­plore

When the Hori­zons up­date was re­leased for Elite Dan­ger­ous, the fine folk at Fron­tier filled my space bank ac­count with cred­its so I could test the new fea­tures with­out hav­ing to dip into my own pocket—which was empty any­way. Sud­denly, I went from hav­ing a few thou­sand cred­its, which is ba­si­cally spare change in Elite, to be­ing a mul­ti­mil­lion­aire. Peo­ple sink hun­dreds of hours into the game and earn only a frac­tion of that, but I was too drunk on wealth to re­al­ize how ut­terly un­de­served my wind­fall was.

Like Richard Pryor in clas­sic 1995 com­edy Brew­ster’s Mil­lions, I im­me­di­ately start throw­ing money around like a fool. My re­li­able old Co­bra gets scrapped, re­placed by an Ana­conda bat­tle­ship fit­ted with the best weapons and up­grades. At 147 mil­lion cred­its it’s not even the most ex­pen­sive ship in the game, but for many it’s a re­ward for hours of toil. I feel like some toff who ca­su­ally buys a Lon­don flat with his in­her­i­tance that it would take a hard-work­ing fam­ily a life­time to af­ford.

So I’m tool­ing around in my Ana­conda like the King of Space, when sud­denly I feel lost. Be­fore Fron­tier’s cash injection, get­ting money (and dy­ing try­ing) had been my main mo­ti­va­tion in Elite. Pa­tiently try­ing to earn the 6 mil­lion re­quired to pur­chase an Asp by cashing in boun­ties and ex­plor­ing the galaxy. But now that I have all the money in the world and can buy as many Asps as I want, I’m bored. I feel like some jaded, lonely old lord pot­ter­ing around in his big, dusty man­sion wait­ing for the blood­line to die out. Money is ev­ery­thing in Elite. The rea­son you fight, the rea­son you ex­plore. And when you don’t have to strug­gle for it any­more, the game sud­denly feels hol­low. Empty. To com­pen­sate, I start liv­ing an ex­trav­a­gant life­style. I drop 84 mil­lion on a Bel­uga Liner just to see what it flies like, then I trade it back in at a mas­sive loss. I’m an af­front to hard­work­ing com­man­ders ev­ery­where. I see other play­ers in Haulers go­ing about their busi­ness, mov­ing cargo, trad­ing,

mak­ing an hon­est wage. I won­der if they think I’m some high-level player who busted his ass for this Ana­conda, rather than the monied fraud that I am.

I take on a few bounty mis­sions, but they’re triv­ial. There’s no plea­sure to be found in blast­ing tiny, help­less pi­rate ships apart in an Ana­conda. Well, there is, but it’s short-lived. So I de­cide it’s time to give up my riches. If there was a way to trans­fer cred­its to an­other player in Elite, I would have given my mil­lions to some ran­dom com­man­der in a Hauler and passed the curse onto them. But there isn’t, so the only solution to the prob­lem is wip­ing my save. I take the Ana­conda for one last flight—it does feel re­ally nice be­ing be­hind the wheel of this thing—then I take a deep breath and erase my­self from ex­is­tence.

Riches to rags

I start a new game. I have 1,000 cred­its and a Sidewinder, and I feel like my life has pur­pose again. I plug my­self back into the econ­omy, sweat­ing away with the work­ing Joes. And I don’t miss my for­tune. I’ll never be able to af­ford an­other Ana­conda, but I don’t need one. Just be­ing able to af­ford my own Asp will be equally sat­is­fy­ing. I take off, set a course for deep space, and be­gin a new ad­ven­ture, free from the shack­les of op­u­lence. In the dis­tance, the world’s small­est vi­o­lin plays for me.

THIS MONTH Got bored of be­ing rich, in space. ALSO PLAYED DirtRally

Money can’t buy you hap­pi­ness, even in space.

You can’t go wrong with a ba­sic Sidewinder.

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