Mars is the new Moon. Any ol' space program can hit up the Moon these days, but the real prize lies with getting a little red sand on your boots. Will that day ever come? Will Wright, creator of games such as SimCity, The Sims and recently Spore, envisions "Marstown," a settlement 8,000 strong in the year 2047.
The Smithsonian's Air & Space magazine asked Wright to think about the way communities on Mars might flourish. He pictures Mars as a frontier town, with Earth governments and corporations incentivizing the move there, and the Mars colony itself being a work in progress that will take decades to really settle. If we're lucky, maybe Wright will turn it into another amazing game.
A favorite bit for us:
Sasha was in the third wave of colonists; the first group of 500 had been transported to Mars eight years earlier. The colony now numbered about 8,000, the primary limits to the population being the cost of transportation from Earth — which was covered by the Mars Development Corporation (MDC) — and the extent of the hydroponic gardens within the tube complex. The MDC represented a consortium of investors from national governments and international funds (vying for long-term territorial and mineral rights) and individual billionaires (with more idealistic motives)
Sasha would be working in the bota-genetic labs initially. Here, hundreds of strains of Earth plants were being slowly engineered to increase their adaptation to Martian conditions. It had been decided decades earlier that it was more cost-effective to terraform only small areas of Mars at first, while at the same time adapting imported life-forms (first plants, then animals and humans) to the new conditions. Over time, the crops, animals, and people would truly become Martians, fully suited to their new homeworld. That was the plan, at least; the process would take many generations.
The culture of the colony was, on the surface, one of fierce independence. The unspoken truth was that the residents were still dependent on Earth, and far from self-sufficient. The social situation in the colony felt similar to that of any small town on Earth. News traveled fast, gossip was the coin of the realm, and secrets did not stay secret for long.
So, who is moving to Mars with me? Read Wright's full vision of life on Mars here.