On the Bethesda Fallout 3 Forum Celeon 999 asks why the world of Fallout 3 looks like it does, with wooden houses still standing 200 years after the war and with society having progressed very little, and if that affects the credibility of the game world. Jay “RadHamster” Woodward replies:
An etymologist could take this opportunity to point out that “not credible” was, of course, the original meaning of the word “incredible.“
A semiotician could add that in fiction, things often are as they could not be, because they are as they must be.
Dan Ross goes a bit further, and gives us a more detailed response:
This is something I’ve thought about personally as well. One thing you have to keep in mind is that you are looking at an alternate future with an emphasis on Science! rather than the normal sciences we are accustomed to. AI supercomputers use vacuum tubes, radiation doesn’t have a half-life, Gamma rays create The Hulk instead of cancer and things are just built differently; made to last. “They don’t make ‘em like they used to” came about because things built back when resources were cheap were really well-made. Now imagine that being carried out into the future where everything was well-made.
Another thing to keep in mind is that while 200 years is a long time, but it’s not so long when you compare it to the “age” they are in. 200 years ago from our time things were a lot different, but there was an economic and social support structure in place that allowed things to advance as quickly as they did. Imagine if all the industries that existed were simply not there and the population numbered merely in the tens of thousands rather than the hundreds of millions?
People don’t have time to develop new technology or clear rubble when finding uncontaminated food and water takes up 75% of their waking day. There are no supermarkets, independent farms get raided (so why grow anything?) and any settlements that sprout up are just as likely to be torn apart by the inhabitants as outside forces. It’s very similar to the “Dark Ages” where things remained the same for a very long time and people lived by tradition simply because it was the only guaranteed way to make a living in a harsh world.
Now add in all the nasty Wasteland creatures, ghouls and mutants… factions all fighting amongst themselves for resources (War never changes, I hear.) and you have an especially harsh world. 200 years of that? I wouldn’t expect much change in so short a time when just living is enough to keep anyone occupied full-time.
First heard of this at NMA.