Dec 172008

I’ve been meaning to do this for a while now, mostly so I don’t have to keep digging things up. Now, finally, I’m going to try it for Bethesda’s Fallout 3, and if I like it, and other people like it, then I’ll probably start doing it for more games, new and old. What is it I’m doing? Well, look at the title. This is a critical thinking compilation.It is not a review compilation. I am not interested in anything that provides a “score”, explains what the writer loved/hated about it, or tries to tell the reader whether the game [Read more…]

Dec 152008
Bellum omnia contra omnes

Much of political philosophy concerns a significant thought experiment called “the state of nature”. This hypothetical condition is one in which mankind has never had a government, and it is a popular way to address the question of why a person would ever choose to surrender rights to the State. Stories that involve the breakdown of civilization often include a representation of such a state, and naturally the qualities of this created world will depend on your beliefs about human nature. The wasteland of Fallout 3 represents the state of nature as the war of all men against all men. [Read more…]

Dec 082008

Having made an extensive complaint about Fallout 3‘s arguments for evil, I should, in the interest of fairness and balance, discuss its case for goodness. Fallout 3 does a better job, in general, of presenting reasons to be good. The backstory supports the idea of a good character, and the dire situation of most settlements in the wasteland provides the tools to construct a compelling heroic narrative. The game falters, however, in the closing chapters. The final battles of the game don’t provide a particularly compelling narrative for the good character, and the design tends to support choices that weaken [Read more…]

Dec 012008

In my last post I argued that the V.A.T.S. represents Fallout 3‘s most compelling argument for a life driven by violence and the exercise of power. It’s important to have an argument in that vein, because the mass media, including video games, have a pronounced tendency to represent evil people as purely unbalanced or crazy. This is unfair to the mentally ill, to be sure, but it is also unfair to evil. The wicked life has attractions beyond sheer gibbering insanity, which is why so many perfectly rational people are heartless and cruel. The problem with Fallout 3 is that [Read more…]