"We All Stray From Our Paths Sometimes"

The following is a chapter proposal I submitted for Network Apocalypse: Visions of the End in an Age of Internet Media. Regardless of acceptance for publication, I will use this space to expand and explore the ideas introduced below:

"We All Stray From Our Paths Sometimes": Morality and Survival in Fallout 3

200 years after a nuclear war devastated the world in an alternate, post-World War II timeline, Fallout 3 places the player as an inhabitant of a survival shelter designed to protect humans from nuclear radiation. When the player's father leaves without prior notice, the player does as well, traversing the Capital Wasteland that was once Washington, D.C., in pursuit. While combat is the game's primary emphasis, Fallout 3 has an important feature in its Karma system. Player actions affect status within the game world and how well non-player characters (NPCs) receive the player. With consequences to most every action, the player is able to earn significant in-game rewards. However, evil as well as good deeds can garner positive NPC reactions, though excessive evil or goodness prompts Regulators to exact vigilante justice upon the player or Talon Company Mercs to put down "another holier-than-thou white-knight." As such, Fallout 3 is a video game that offers a provocative perspective on a particular post-apocalyptic scenario, revealing the sustained prevalence of war. Though on a scale more personal than political, more intimate than global, war in Fallout 3 focuses on simple survival and associated moral choices. Because of this, religious concerns as well as gender, ethnic and racial divisions appear as either unimportant or nonexistent. With individual morality and survival at the forefront, Fallout 3 provides perhaps a more honest view of humanity at the end of history.