- slide 1 of 4
Why Tesla's Inventions are Video Game Gold
The battles between real-life inventors Nikola Tesla and Thomas Edison are legendary, although modern society would not be possible without the inventions of either scientist. Tesla, unlike Edison, did not die a rich man. His lack of skill at personal relationships guaranteed that he would die penniless in the late 1930s. The genius he showed in this life was overshadowed by some of his more radical, crazier ideas later in life.
Anyone who has played Command and Conquer Red Alert knows the dangerous nature of the Tesla coil Tesla coils do not work the same way in real life that they do in the game. The Tesla towers that appear in this popular RT are based off of a proposed death ray. Other of his crazier proposed inventions serve as something a hero must uncover or destroy. Lara Croft is charged with finding and infiltrating a forgotten Tesla laboratory to prevent his work from falling into the wrong hands in one of the Tomb Raider Games.
Fanciful and impractical electric weapons make appearances in Fallout 3 and the recent Borderlands. Real-life's quintessential mad scientist played a more active roles in few video games. When Nikola Tesla does make an appearance, it is memorable. Many of these video games are quickly
forgotten. The willingness to include one of the United States' most famous immigrants lingers on in the memory and imagination.
The electricity-based weapons in many video games can easily be traced directly to the work of Tesla, although the designers must assume that his theories were correct. As tempting as it may be to assume that the Taser is an acronym that references the scientist's, the truth is that the acronym stands for the Thomas A. Swift Electric rifle.
- slide 2 of 4
Nikila Tesla's appaerance in Dark Void
Dark Void is a combination flight combat simulator and shooter that received mediocre reviews. The Rocketeer-style hero encounters alien technology far beyond his ken. What better scientist is there in the 1930s to reverse engineer unearthly gizmos than Nikola Tesla? Tesla provides guidance to the main character and also keeps the equipment in working repair, although the repairs usually happen off-screen. Perhaps the greatest disappointment is that the DSi retro-styled game, Dark Void Zero is more entertaining than the version of the game for the home console. Tesla only makes a minor appearance in the Dark Void Zero.
- slide 3 of 4
Ultima World's Martian Dreams
The mad science involved in this game is abysmally low. The hero must free the humans how have colonized Mars from the grip of dangerous Martian technology. Tesla makes a small appearance in this video game at the beginning, but it turns out to be an important one. The title character must get Tesla's help to activate the Martian power station. After he appears, the game shifts from a bizarre science fiction game to one that more closely resembles the traditional sword-and-sorcery style of the Ultima role-playing games.
- slide 4 of 4
Command and Conquer Red Alert
Red Alert starts when Einstein invents a time machine and uses it to kill Hitler before he can come to power. Russians, rather than the America, had access to Tesla's blueprints. The game's Tesla coils and the Tesla troopers are direct references to the Serbian born-scientist.
An early full motion video sequence in the original Red Alert Suggests that Einstein and Tesla worked together to conduct the Philadelphia experience, although you never actually see the scientist in the game.
Why the Russians have Tesla's devices is never fully explained in the Red Alert Universe. A player might speculate that Tesla never emigrated to the United States when Einstein altered the time and made Einstein further alters the time line before the events in Red Alert 3.
Although Tesla does not get any actual screen time in this video game, he has a much larger impact on the Red Alert universe than he does on the world of Fallout 3. Tesla may not appear very much in video games, but this will change. Tesla technology certainly could have played a greater role in Crimson Skies: High Road to Revenge. We can also hope that the Tesla posters appearing in the bedroom of the hero in Cloudy With a Chance of Meat Balls means that he is becoming an icon in popular culture again.