Fallout 3 and our Apocalyptic Tendencies!

I recently got a resurgent interest in all things post apocalyptic. This has absolutely nothing to do with an idea I got a few days ago to perhaps pursue my thesis on Post-Apocalyptic literature next year. So of course my first natural response was to get the greatest Fallout craving I ever had. This was so great it came to the point where I went out and re-bought the game for myself. Not a day had passed since this craving took me and I slipped the disc into my Ps3, updated the patches and voila! The familiar 50’s music and desolate apocalyptic surroundings soon became my new home. This isn’t a review though. This is more a few random thought being tossed around a bit. So spare me a minute and let me share a bit of it with you!

The first thing that came to mind, happened while I was watching the opening sequence of the game. Those that have played the game, would recognise it well. The camera opens up with a light being switched on, soft 50’s music start to play in the background as the camera starts to zoom out. It appears the light was that of an old radio in a bus, the camera moves through the bus slowly showing teddy bears, posters etc.  Artefacts of a previous life. Finally it exits the bus that we can now see is truly ruined, snapped in half. The music is almost silent now as the camera continues to zoom out. We take in the sublimity of the destruction that is apparent as far as the eye can see. Finally the camera stops and a man dressed completely in metal stand in the side of the frame. He is a Paladin of the Brotherhood of Steel. He signifies that the world around us now, is very different from what we are used to.

This is a pretty simple entrance, but at the same time very powerful and it succeeds in saying so many things at the same time. It sets the tone, gives us the background of the game in a nutshell and shows us a bit of what we can expect. But what follows is where I really want to make my point. The opening narration goes as follows:

War. War never changes. Since the dawn of human kind, when our ancestors first discovered the killing power of rock and bone, blood has been spilled in the name of everything: from God to justice to simple, psychotic rage.

Doesn’t Fallout just nail it? This along with many other subtle and not so subtle hints, makes way for a very bleak, very pessimistic view of human nature. But really, if you think about it. It is so very accurate. At this moment in the real world, there are so many conflicts going on at the same time. Some you might not even have heard of, I certainly didn’t know of all of them before this post. Areas that are currently experiencing some sort of major conflict that causes more than a 1000 death every year is among: Colombia, Afghanistan, Somalia, Pakistan, Mexico, Sudan, Syria, Iraq. Then there is something like 35 other more minor conflicts in other areas, some of them are older than 50 years. Here is a list of Wikipedia list if you want to have a look


What does all of these conflicts have in common? Humanity and it’s very human problems. All of these wars are waged because of ideologies, religions, profit, power, drugs etc. Very human, very invented problems. In other words. Unnecessary creations that humans have included into their nature.

That is just war though. Then we have other man generated problem that is also represented in Fallout to some extent or another. Corporate abuse, Rampant capitalism, humans exploiting each  other, resources, religious fanaticism, man-made pestilence and of course the big one. Destruction of man’s own civilisation. That is kind of where all of this is heading is it not. Both the game and the article. The end of human civilisation, a hot topic for 2012, isn’t it. Even if it is not caused by nuclear holocaust as in the game, it will be come about in some other fashion. My bet is on Climate change. It might not happen in 2012, as some especially nutty cases would have us believe, but rest assured it is on our horizons. Be it 10, 20, 50 or even a 100 years. I can’t say, I am neither a prophet nor a scientist. But any idiot can see that the way we are running our civilisations at the moment and the abuse we are handing out to both ourselves and our planet is not sustainable.

What makes Fallout so especially grim, but also so very true, is that it shows the world after it has gone to shit. That is the scary part, what does it show? It shows humans are still exactly the same. Their civilisation has already been destroyed by war, environmental genocide or whatever and they have absolutely learned nothing from it. What is so especially interesting to me, is the fact that I can imagine this scenario so completely. As does many authors, films and other games in the genre. I will leave you with this.

 Even after the world has been burned to nuclear cinders, even after the ruling powers have faded and human society itself as crumbled into unordered anarchy, even after man has already brought the worst possible fate upon himself. Even now when it is the most crucial time for men to stand together, for there very survival depends on it, even then, they do not!

Human nature never changes.


9 comments on “Fallout 3 and our Apocalyptic Tendencies!

  1. When I originally played Fallout 3, I did’nt enjoy it. It felt too depressing, so full of greys and dreary enviroments. But now its probably one of the best open, if not desoloutes worlds created. It just made me feel like Clint Eastwood in an old western (or should that be new?). Also like the rather random referance to a Fear Factory song in the museum of technology. Great article.

  2. Thanks! I don’t know! For some reason I enjoy these kind of settings. I almost prefer Fallout’s enviroment in comparison to maybe SKyrim or Oblivion’s. Also the Post apocalyptic and dystopian themes appeals greatly to me, hence why I am returning to this game now, when there is a lack of anything else out there to play.

  3. I once wrote a paper about Fallout 3, my favorite game ever: “Destroying the world –
    Postapoclyptic settings in video games”. Which works do you want to write your thesis about? 🙂

  4. I wouldn’t mind seeing that thesis if you decide to write that on that particular topic.

    • I am currently doing my Honours in English so I will only be starting with the thesis next year when I do my masters. I will undoubtly be posting more on it then, maybe even with chapter updates etc when the time arrives. You are welcome to keep an eye our for it here. 🙂

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