Space Exploration and Aliens
To have an alien encounter, we need to go to the aliens or they need to get to us (Setting). For that we need sci-fi technology–faster-than-light travel via hyperspace or “warp speed,” some kind of wormhole in space or suspended animation (Technology).
What’s the point of leaving your nice planet and looking for another? (Motivation) Maybe you really screwed your home world up with pollution. Maybe your sun is about to explode. Maybe you have run out of natural resources. Maybe your population is out of control. Maybe you have conquered all the challenges your world offers and you want to explore the next frontier. Maybe you want to take over the galaxy and make all its inhabitants your slaves. Who knows?
Once you meet the new kids on the block, you might run into trouble. The residents of the planet Snee, for example, like to eat eyeballs. Humans don’t like having their eyeballs eaten. Thus, there is a problem.
Humans tend to think they can go somewhere and take what they want. The residents of the planets they encounter might want to keep their world and resources to themselves. Problem.
Why can’t we all just get along? Because we have Competing Interests.
The knee-jerk reaction to encountering someone or something different is to kill it or run away. That reaction is the result of the fear of strangers, also called Xenophobia. We tend to be afraid of people who are different than us. This fear is tempered by another fear, the fear of Isolation. No one wants to be alone. We want friends. We want to know that we are not alone in the universe and that other beings are having the same problems we are.
Space and Alien Links:
"Aliens and Space Exploration" — a PowerPoint presentation
"Starcross" walkthrough — When you want to win the game the easy way.