War Never Changes

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Fallout fan Carib FMJ in Iraque

On the Ten Most Meaningful Videogame Quotes of All Time at Destructoid we can find one of my favorites:

“War. War never changes.”

Even after most of the world has been turned into nuclear ash, even after the world governments have crumbled and the social infrastructure decays into anarchy, even when, after the greatest and most horrible war of all, the human race has every reason to band together in an effort to save one another from total annihilation — they don’t.

War never changes.

Fallout may be one of the most cynical, nihilistic game franchises in existence, which also makes it one of my personal favorites. Rather than half-assedly cultivating a world-weary tone through a sepia color scheme and needlessly gruff-sounding protagonists (I’m looking at you, Gears of War), the Fallout series tells the tale of some people who try to act with common decency in a world utterly lacking in it, and who are subsequently tortured and killed and exiled for their troubles. Cormac McCarthy would be proud.

In the world of Fallout you can do varying amounts of good on your quest through the Wastelands but, more often than not, your efforts can be just as easily undone by bad luck or the corruption of others. You can save the Ghouls of Necropolis from starvation, only to hear of their slaughter at the hands of Super Mutants. You can help the Brotherhood of Steel find new technology, but they’ll use it to further their war-driven, quasi-fascist agenda. And no matter how much good you do in the original Fallout — no matter how quickly you save the denizens of Vault 13 from dehydration and destroy the Super Mutant base — you will always be cast out by a hypocritical, bureaucratic Vault Overseer who claims that your heroism will make you a bad role model for the other Vault Dwellers.

Without getting into a current sociopolitical discussion, let me just say that the themes suggested in Fallout (punishment of morality in an immoral world, the hypocrisy of authority, the petty and violent nature of humankind) can be seen quite clearly even today. Wars are driven by greed, necessity, stupidity, or fear — and even after the cities have been burnt to cinders and the countryside irradiated, war will never change.

Thanks anonymous through Meebo.

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