Escaping into the apocalypse.
The news has been awful lately. Phenomenally depressing and tragic. War, hateful political rhetoric, and now more mass shootings. Cripes, there were multiple mass shootings yesterday. I’m not going to write a lengthy think-piece on any of it. I don’t have the heart or the energy to address it, nor do I believe I have the right words. All I want to do is help the victims however I can, likely through established charities. Talking about it endlessly does nothing.
But in an effort to lighten my mood somewhat, I’ll talk about how oddly Fallout 4 has affected me.
The opening of Fallout 4 places the main character’s infant son in immediate danger, and the central storyline is driven (at first) by finding his captors. In open-world games like Fallout, you’re given the opportunity to explore the vast map and find intriguing side quests before embarking on your main quest. In Fallout 3, I nearly cleared the wasteland of side quests before finally plunging into the central story. I’m playing Fallout 4 while being the father of an infant son in real life, so my gameplay style has been “SCREW YOUR SIDE QUESTS PRESTON I NEED TO FIND MY SON AND I WILL PUNCH SUPER MUTANTS IN THE CROTCH UNTIL I FIND HIM!”
It’s affected me on the other end of the fatherhood spectrum, too. I’ve lived in the Boston area for years, and it’s a city rich with American history. My own dad is an American history enthusiast, and when he comes to visit he likes to do things like visit Bunker Hill, walk the Freedom Trail, and so on. In my first time through Fallout 4, I’ve decided to side with the Minutemen, and if you progress with them far enough you get to wear a traditional set of minuteman gear, complete with tri-corner hat. My father-figure main character, strolling around the ruins of Boston looking like an actual minuteman from history, weirdly reminds me of my own dad and I feel like I’m channeling him. (Not sure how my dad would feel about being compared to a crotch-punching butcher of super mutants, but whatever.)
So on the one hand I’m getting my heartstrings tugged as I search for my missing infant son because I am the father of an infant son in real life, and as my Minuteman out-of-time I’m reminded of my own dad and his love of American history. Video games, man.
I hope you enjoyed this small bit of escapism. I suppose it’s time to go back to reading the news.