Fallout 3 Devs Say Nuked D.C. Not a Political Statement

By now most gamers have probably seen Fallout 3 screenshots depicting a nuke-ravaged Washington, D.C.

But if you were thinking that the game developers were making some type of political statement, think again.

MTV’s Stephen Totilo spoke with Fallout 3 executive producer Todd Howard, who nixed the political angle:

No political statement intended, according to Howard… The timing of the release of “Fallout 3″ so close to a national election is “all a coincidence…” Development of the game started in 2004 without any sense of when it would come out… Howard maintains the game “has nothing to do with the current state of affairs.”


…Few games have been set in the area… His game’s Washington is full of ruined monuments and references to real-world D.C. museums, like the Air & Space, which manifests itself as a museum of unusual technology… “Fallout 3″ has the Washington Monument, the National Archives, the Capitol, and the Lincoln Memorial. As for the White House, Howard says, “We have it, and we don’t have it.” How else to describe the giant irradiated crater where 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue should be?


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  1. Anonymous says:

    Beat everybody ten bucks that a Fox Noise pundit will pick up on this and accuse the video game industry of Far Left trechory by the election.

  2. Thad says:

    I remember someone on Huffington Post whining, when the trailer for I Am Legend came out, that she was sick of seeing devastated images of New York after 9/11.

    My immediate response was that post-apocalyptic science fiction relies on showing famous landmarks in ruins — and that the best-known landmarks in America are in New York and DC, which is precisely the reason those cities were targets on 9/11.

    I would pay to see a movie or a game that showed Scottsdale, Arizona in ruins.  But I have a hunch I’m in a minority there.

  3. Anonymous says:

    The original Fallout series was awash with a subversive, left-leaning socio-political critical commentary.


    That is all.

  4. thefremen says:

     I thought this "sensitivity" bullshit ended when the Conservatives took over. Weren’t the men supposed to start acting like real men just like Ann Coulter always says?

  5. black manta says:

    Geez.  When did everybody get so touchy all of a sudden that now you can’t show a famous city, building or monument being blown-up or in ruins without people questioning your intent?  I’ve seen hundreds of post-apocalyptic Sci-Fi movies made between the 1950’s to the 1980’s where you saw famous cities like New York and D.C. either destroyed or in ruins (Logan’s Run and Beneath the Planet of the Apes just off the top of my head).  And nobody complained then.  We saw the White House and the Empire State Building get blown to smithereens in Independence Day and nobody complained then either.  Nobody as I recall questioned the filmmakers’ poltical motivations then.  Japan got nuked TWICE and they’ve been making movies of giant monsters destroying Tokyo for years.  You don’t hear them bitching and moaning.

    This smacks of around the time just after 9/11 when everybody got into a tizzy about depictions of the World Trade Center on film and in video games.  Microsoft had to remove them from the edition of Flight Simulator at the time and Activision had to remove them from their Spider-Man game.  The box cover art from Red Alert 2 had to be changed as it showed New York under attack (although they left the missions involving the Pentagon and the WTC unchanged).  There was even some serious talk about removing the WTC from all movies that depeicted it, like it never existed.  (Incidentally, whatever I think about Steven Spielberg these days, I have to give him props for sticking to his guns when he said he wouldn’t remove the WTC when A.I. was coming out on DVD) Thankfully cooler heads prevailed before the trend got out of hand.  Sensitivity is one thing, but when you get to the point of revisionist history, that’s something else.

    Still it’s like ever since then whenever in important place is seen destroyed, now everybody has to question the motivations behind it.  I have to agree with Bethesda; just as with 9/11 the timing may be unfortunate,  but it was completely coincidental and there was no way they could have known the game would be finished and released when it is.  They shouldn’t have to be questioned or taken to task for it, nor should they be made to feel they should change it or reschedule the release date out of "sensitivity." 

    Give me a break.

  6. Anonymous says:

    My only problem is that by setting the game in such a vast urban area, they are kind of stripping it of the whole "post-apocalyptic spaghetti western" feel that the other two games had. But I definitely never got the impression that Bethesda was trying to make some sort of political statement. However, I also don’t remember the other two games going into such detail about why the war happened, and I certainly don’t remember them having the vague relevence to real life current events.

    Even so, I’m totally willing to except that they chose to place the game in DC simply because the city has made relatively few appearances in games. It’s the same reason I didn’t really think twice about RE4 taking place in Africa. I was too busy thinking "Hey, I haven’t played that many games set in Africa, this should be cool!" People need to realize that, as a medium for storytelling, videogames have to take place somewhere, and it’s not always an attempt to rattle the cages. Sometimes it’s just because the developers wanted a cool backdrop.

  7. Grendal says:

     Yeah things diverge sometime after WW2, the nuclear war doesn’t occur until toward the end of the 21st century if I’m remembering correctly. It really is odd to think that this would be somehow political, I mean a countries capital is going to be one of the first targets in a nuclear war thats just common sense.

  8. Anonymous says:

    I’m sorry, why are trying to make this into a political statement?  Haven’t they noticed that this is the 3RD Fallout game?

    There are two other Fallout games(ignoring the crummy console ones when interplay was bleeding for money), the "the nuke distroyed world is now a wasteland" plot has been well established for quite some time, and it isn’t surprising that Washington DC –the "head of the US"– is among them.

    Not surprising to me that people WANT TO make it into a political statement when it is NOT.  Yes the Whitehouse got nuked, but something like that is obviously a target with all the other countries out there.  Also there is the time frame, I think I remember it being in an alternative reality revolving around the time of WWII….

    Another good point, how many movies, books, etc do the same thing?

  9. Brokenscope says:

    Building materials and distance. One nuke is enough for DC.

    Most people in the congress don’t have the ability to launch nukes.

  10. shady8x says:

    Lack of Oil results in global war which ends in a show down between a new superpower(china) and an imperial USA…

    Then we have a nuked crater where the white house used to be… yet the democratic congress still stands…

    All this and it ships during presidential election…

    oh yes no political statemtns there at all…

    I mean, it doesn’t even have anything to do with todays politics…

  11. Brokenscope says:

    Common usage no longer restricts it to the Middle East.

    Not to mention the fact that sand isn’t required for glassing.


  12. shady8x says:

    I think the main statement is that while the whole of the world is an irradiated wasteland, most of the monuments in our capital still stand strong, I mean its not like anyone would target our pentagon in a nuke exchange right?

  13. Jabrwock says:

    The most recognizeable symbols of power in the US, if not the world, reduced to crumbling, radioactive ashes in crisp, shining 3-D, all due to the incompetence and stubborness of its leaders?

    Incompetence and stubborness? In Fallout, WWIII follows the Resource Wars, in which the EU strikes at the Middle East over high oil prices. Later on, after the ME oil supply runs out, China invades Alaska to gain access to the oil there.

    Instead of the US being dependant on the rest of the world, the conflict begins because the rest of the world runs out, and demands access to US oil supplies.

    — If your wiimote goes snicker-snack, check your wrist-strap…

  14. Black Dragon says:

    The most recognizeable symbols of power in the US, if not the world, reduced to crumbling, radioactive ashes in crisp, shining 3-D, all due to the incompetence and stubborness of its leaders?

    Of course it’s not a political statement! :p

  15. Black Dragon says:

    I know. I wasn’t trying to be a smartass there.

    Still, it’s a rather ominous picture, so I see why they had to make the statement.

  16. silentsurge says:

    There’s no way it could be a political statement, I mean it IS our national capitol. If you were an enemy of the US and you wee going to suddenly nuke the hell out of the US wouldn’t you hit the national capitol just on the off chance you take out most of the national leadership? Plus, the rest of the word of Fallout is an irradiated wasteland, doesn’t this make since?

  17. Kojiro ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    lol, I think you’ve missed the point of the term "turn into glass."  It’s applied when people discuss nuking the Middle East because it’s all sand.  That term has no meaning when applied to DC, which has very little sand.

    But, your point is valid.  I’m sure DC is on the first wave target list of every potential nuclear adversary.

  18. Anonymous says:

    I think it is just being practical. In the event of an apocalyptic situation, you think nobody is going to try and turn DC into glass? If not enemies or uneasy allies, then ourselves as we riot ourselves into oblivion. When the chips are down, all bets are off, and clashing metaphors WILL be mixed.

  19. Jabrwock says:

    I thought it was "War never changes." That seemed to be the intro theme of both 1 & 2.

    — If your wiimote goes snicker-snack, check your wrist-strap…

  20. Jabrwock says:

    Remember the army base from Fallout 1? Nuked a whole bunch of times, like the enemy *really* wanted it gone.

    — If your wiimote goes snicker-snack, check your wrist-strap…


  21. thefremen says:

     I’m not too suprised, they had to get away from the southwest, they’ve been mining that area since Wasteland. IIRC, the BOHS tactical game used the midwest, so it was logical to go to the east coast. Given the important part the new world government played in Fallout 2 it makes even more sense to place it around DC.

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