A defining feature of Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 is that it roughly simulates every corner of our planet, with varying degrees of detail, by leveraging the satellite data that enables Microsoft's Bing Maps. Pick any spot in the world, fly your plane there, and chances are you'll see something resembling the reality.
As players finally get to spend more time with Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020, they're finding several quirks in Flight Simulator 2020's version of our world, including Buckingham Palace rendered as a boring office building and bizarre glitches that erect impossibly tall skyscrapers where they don't exist.
But players have been flocking to one location in recent days for more troubling reasons: Jeffrey Epstein’s private island in Little St. James, U.S. Virgin Islands.
The island has been a source of interest since the arrest of Jeffrey Epstein for sex trafficking. Epstein, a convicted sex offender and millionare with close ties to some of the richest, most powerful people in the world, purchased the island in 1998. After Epstein died while being detained in New York City’s Metropolitan Correctional Centerin 2019, the FBI raided the island.
The island and its complex of blue tiled buildings have become a symbol of the Epstein investigation and a source of fascination among conspiracy theorists. One of the conspiracy theories centers around a building called “The Temple,” an impossible to miss building with a golden dome. People who’ve toured the building say it looks like a study inside.
While players can use Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 to check out the island, like much of the game, it’s not a perfect recreation. There appears to be a building in the same spot where the domed building should be, but it looks completely different, and doesn't have a dome. We don't know if it was deliberately removed by Microsoft or if it's simply rendered incorrectly, as are many other locations in the game. Motherboard reached out to Microsoft for comment on the issue but did not immediately receive a reply.
In YouTube videos and on Reddit, players mostly discuss how to find the island, which requires flying to the right coordinates, but there's just not much there to see. If you're curious about what the island looks like, you can get a much better idea by looking it up on Google Maps, watching actual footage of the real location, or reading the many articles about Epstein and the heinous crimes he committed. Flying to the island in a video game is just another way for people to satisfy their fascination with one of the most horrible stories in recent memory, and not that different than sending drones to film the island and chartering private boats to explore its buildings.