Bethesda Studios will introduce a brand new nuclear weapon option in Fallout 76 and its introduction is sending the NPCs and crybabies at Motherboard and Waypoint into full on panic as they can’t tell the difference between a fictional post-apocalyptic world and real life.
Raining destruction in videos games has been a time-honored tradition and nuclear weapons in a video game aren’t uncommon. Off the top of my head I can think of Rise of Nations, Civilization, and Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2. But it seems that some crybabies have gotten their underwear in a wad over the new nuclear option in Fallout 76.
In Fallout 76, Bethesda Studios actually allows players to now fully utilize a real nuclear weapon. This is different from previous iterations where shoulder-mounted mini-nuclear weapon launchers are common. Bethesda’s chief of marketing Pete Hines describes the new option stating, “You can’t nuke each other. You can nuke a specific part of the world. It’s a massive map, it’s four times the size of Fallout 4 so it’s a really big space. But first of all, getting the ability to launch a nuke is not easy. Players will have to collect snippets of nuclear codes over time, then launch their own full scale assault on the game’s launch facilities.”
Hines makes it clear you actually can’t target individual players:
“I can’t see you running around the map and go, ‘Oh, I wanna nuke that guy.’ So they’re not easy to get, they’re not just gonna be firing off every five minutes. And when a nuke is incoming in an area of the map, people get notified. So you know … Well, you could just stand there and not do anything, but you could also get the hell out of the way and then you won’t get nuked.”
The nuclear weapons will affect the environment. Once it strikes an area the radiation from the blast will alter the creatures you encounter making life in the wasteland much more difficult.
Certain elements of the gaming journalist establishment weren’t happy with this news. They specifically didn’t like that full-sized nuclear weapons were going to be used.
At Waypoint, writer Cameron Kunzelman’s puts together a long drawn-out article that basically says, “It is impossible for me to think about nuclear weapons without thinking about the shadows blasted into stone at Hiroshima. I think about the rotting flesh of The Day After. I think about the unfathomable human cost of nuclear weapons, which includes the cancers grown under the aegis of environmental drift of radioactive particles.”
He goes on to talk about how the addition of nuclear weapons into a video is at at odds with real life.
“No matter who you are, no matter how powerful you think you are, the reality is that nuclear war will either destroy you or make your life unlivable in its current shape. This reality is fundamentally at odds with how the design of blockbuster video games work.”
He would go on to insinuate that the inclusion of nuclear weapons into Fallout 76 would encourage people to use nukes in the real world:
“The problem with video games and nuclear weapons doesn’t have anything to do with nuclear weapons themselves. They are simply a human evil, the ultimate symbol of what kind of nightmare we are willing to bring to bear on one another in our quest for dominance and violence. The problem in the relationship between video games and nuclear weapons is video games.”
This talking point is tired and has been beaten death. Professor Christopher Ferguson has been debunking this idea for years. He points out, “the research just hasn’t panned out. For one thing, even while video game sales have skyrocketed, youth violence plummeted to its lowest levels in 40 years according to government statistics.” He would add, “Secondly, it has been increasingly recognized that much of the early research on VVG linking them to increased aggression was problematic: most studies used outcome measures that had nothing to do with real-life aggression and failed to control carefully for other important variables, such as family violence, mental health issues or even gender in many studies (boys both play more VVG and are more aggressive.)”
Cameron Kunzelman wouldn’t be the only one to go after Fallout 76 for their nuclear weapon feature. Motherboard’s Matthew Gault would drum up his own distaste stating, “I think about nuclear war a lot.” He then goes on to point out his criticism is of course about Donald Trump.
“But some fans and critics were horrified by “the nuke loop” and I understand why. With a newly weaponized North Korea, and a belligerent American president, the post-apocalyptic setting of the Fallout franchise looks less like a fun place to visit and more like an inappropriate vision of a possible future.”
Gault would try to find a way to make his criticism of the feature more palatable by talking to nuclear experts who all would say the same thing which amounts to nuclear war isn’t a laughing matter. Fortunately, this is a video game and not the real world and people are allowed to have fun even when it involves nuclear weapons and violence.
No one tell them about the Grand Theft Auto franchise!
What do you think? Does Motherboard and Waypoint make valid points? Or do these folks sound like boring programs that don’t know what fun means?