The Aliens Just Stayed Home

The author of This Gaming Life, Jim Rossignol, writes,

“My personal favourite is a variant of the “aliens just stayed home” hypothesis, by a chap called Michael Huang. He suggested that the aliens created such an amazing version of World Of Warcraft, that real life seemed boring, and they neglected the difficulties of space travel. Indeed, if space flight is really going to take thousands of years, hundreds of generations, and immense resources that could be better spent on having a good time, why should millions of sentient beings be expected to sink their lives into making it happen?”

That’s quite the interesting hypothesis. Since we all aspire to different goals in life — even common goals have many variants — it is a logical idea. Rossignol examines the Fermi Paradox in his post. Should the speed of technological advancement increase during my lifetime, I suppose it is likely that more people will be interested in exploring the solar system and beyond.

Why should we expect this to happen at all? Perhaps it is a hedonistic viewpoint to suggest that most people would rather stay home and play games, but then again, define your game. For some, hedonism might just be rocketing off into space to live out a real life space opera.

To others, gardening is the ultimate escape. Getting back to video games — Jim’s primary focus here — we are given the chance to create, explore, and destroy anything our imaginations can dream within the confines of video games. And as Jim points out, that may be our best bet.

“Perhaps we, and our alien counterparts, really are trapped on our distinct worlds, but we will still get to explore strange new worlds.”

Rossignol summarily discusses several other theories on aliens. My thoughts are that there could be a difference in perspective altogether. It is possible that our concepts of alien life do not match anything out in the universe. We know the building blocks, but we do not know all of the combinations of other possible building blocks.

As in the deep caves of the Earth, there may be another world where a species lives entirely submerged in high concentrations of sulphuric acid. What then? How would communication work? How would we shake hands? These questions are partly facetious, partly examples of the sort of issues that would arise, but they are simplifications because it is likely that the aliens are just as trapped on their worlds as we are… or as Huang suggests, just as jaded.