Fallout 76: Absurd merch, the discless Platinum edition, and criticism of ‘nuke porn’

    
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The second part of this article is about something serious, so we’re starting with the ridiculous first, k? And here it is: Bethsoft has apparently teamed up with Numskull to develop a whole line of Fallout 76 merch.

No candles for Fallout 76, but there are “pin badge sets, 3D mugs, keychains, floor mats, and even coat hooks.” We’re positive your spouse would be totally OK with your buying a couple Pip-Boy ornament packs for your tree this year. The Fallout 76 Ugly Sweater would make a fun gag gift for your geeky cousin too. And how about these spiffy incense burners?

If you’re totally made of money, you can take a peek at the Fallout 76 editions on sale, just note: As PC Gamer points out, the $115 Platinum Edition doesn’t actually include the game itself. It’s loaded with loot, but no actual game or game disks, so heads-up there.

Finally, there’s yesterday’s piece on Motherboard, which digs into academic and military criticism of Fallout 76’s trivialization of nuclear warfare. Obviously, the series has always been set in a world afflicted by nukes, but critics say this episode in the franchise sanitizes their use for giggles with the equivalent of “nuke porn.”

“ICBMs are not fun…they created the hellish world your player is in,” says a professor at the US Navy War College. “Launching them for laughs is a complete violation of the sense of the game.”

Source: Press release, Numskull, PC Gamer, Motherboard

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Sean Barfoot

This is like Gamergate shit all over again. Cultural criticism 101 interpreted as Jack Thompson coming to take away your video games.

xpsync
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xpsync

war, war never changes

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Grave Knight

People really should read the article before calling out the professor of the US Navy War College. He’s not criticizing gamers or the game industry but Bethesda and their poor use of nuclear weapons. In fact that’s what the article is about, how Bethesda uses nuclear weapons as just another game mechanic.

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Dread Quixadhal

This is the culture we’ve encourage. Good job.

When a professor feels so insecure that he feel compelled to remind people who they SHOULD feel about something in real life that’s being depicted in a way HE objects to, in a video game.

But THAT isn’t the big deal. The big deal is how many people will support this, and get on board the self-censorship train. People seem to have lost the ability to express an idea unless they’re pretty sure that idea is pre-approved and won’t offend anyone.

Serrenity
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Serrenity

Read the source.

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Fervor Bliss

Look at what academic’s and military think of video game players. They are so stupid we have to remind them that nuclear weapons are a bad thing. If we don’t tell them radiation is bad they will masturbate to the nuclear fallout footage.

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rafael12104

One more thought:

If you merch it, they will come.

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rafael12104

Nuke porn? LOL! Isn’t that an internet rule? If you think of it, then there is already PRoN on the net about it. So, perhaps you should think about the association you made there and stay off those websites, doc.

And if you think that people, players, whoever, are too stupid to understand the difference between a nuclear holocaust and a video game, that someone out there, after playing Fallout thinks “Meh, nukes aren’t that bad”, it is you have to check your assumptions and perspective, doc.

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kgptzac

Selling an “edition” of the game that excludes the base game is very much an insult to consumers regardless how many disclaimers they put in the listings. I hope they get slapped by regulatory agencies for false advertising.

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Alex Willis

The brain trust is at work explaining that games aren’t real life. Thanks for that.

Apparently, that’s enough of a justification to represent whatever you want, and criticism of themes, subjects — whatever — is off limits because FICTION.*

Few things.

1. This is not “outrage culture”, or SJWs, or libtards. A frickin’ professor at a military college is suggesting that maybe — MAYBE — a game might have crossed a bit of an existential line on a subject. Hardly shakes the enterprise of imaginary game-making to its core, people.

2. Surely it is worthwhile to have some nuance about what you SHOULD represent in a game. Crossing lines has value — the best comedy does this regularly — but it’s not as if some artistic principle is at stake. Video games are not your First Amendment Rights on a god damned torture table, people. (Many of us don’t live in your benighted country in the first place.) Murdering children with spoons is something you COULD make a game about, but when someone objects, do you go to the wall for that game? I mean, be my guest — it will be easier to identify you for forensic study and dissection. (So yeah, maybe your First Amendment Rights *are* on the table. Come at me, Freespeech Bros.)

*(Side note: I hold a PhD in English Literature, and people who have not studied literary history would be surprised how old these arguments are. Political alignments with the “Let Me Do What I Want” side of artistic representation switch quite frequently. But please, spare everyone the “Keep Politics Out of It” piece. Life is political. People can and SHOULD find politics in everything. And don’t be upset when someone else gets upset. For reference, see: “The Irony of Accusing Others of Being Snowflakes”.)

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xpsync

Yes the brain knows the difference, but sometimes it doesn’t.

Like the Moiré pattern, you can see it, it is there because rooted in how the brain and optical system work it is, it’s not really there, yet it is, it is totally there.

The brain is completely convinced it is there, it’s been a good way for myself understand, and to explain to others what going insane is like in some degrees when people hear voices, or see people or things that are simply not there, yet they are so convinced (their brain is convinced) they are.

That’s how it is for them, we can tell the Moiré pattern is an illusion, but try and tell your brain it isn’t there, or even try to see it not there, it’s freaking there lol.

It’s when they start to believe it (their Moiré pattern whatever it is) is of any sort of substance, as in really there and of substance, that’s the first step towards going crazy. So if that’s what that guy believes then… yea

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traja

Stating that an argument is old is not an argument in itself. Also the comparison to a depiction of brutally murdering children is a classic appeal to emotion, and it has nothing do with how nuclear weapons ought be depicted.
To make an actual argument you, or the professor, would need to justify the real world negative consequences of what Fallout 76 is doing. How exactly is it harmful that nukes are not being treated seriously? What is the mechanism by which it is bad for society?

Serrenity
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Serrenity

Refer to my comment up above. Let go of the misconception that this is somehow about a moral panic or outrage.

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Baemir

How is this NOT a moral panic on their part? It’s not like the fallout devs actually launched any nukes or anything.

Serrenity
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Serrenity

Look I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain to you something you have no desire to learn or understand.

So let’s just leave it at that.

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Alex Willis

the comparison to a depiction of brutally murdering children is a classic appeal to emotion, and it has nothing do with how nuclear weapons ought be depicted

Yes on the appeal to emotion, but the suggested notion of a fallacy of equivalence between mass murder (nuclear apocalypse) and individual ones (children, with spoons) is pretty hilarious when measured on moral grounds. If you’re not seeing an emotional undercurrent in the reaction to how nuclear war is depicted, you’re missing a lot of social cues.

How exactly is it harmful that nukes are not being treated seriously? What is the mechanism by which it is bad for society?

How is it harmful that anything “serious” in fiction is “not treated seriously”? This goes to the heart of art and its responsibilities. There’s no simple answer here. A critic has suggested that perhaps the careless attitude towards nuclear war is irresponsible. This is not an untenable position to hold. Responding that such a position is ridiculous because the scenarios depicted are not “real” is to imply that art has no association with human behaviour. Which is of course itself ridiculous.

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traja

It is very much relevant to explain how it is harmful that a serious thing is not being treated seriously in fiction. Without that you really have nothing. Sure you can say that it can be careless but as a statement it is entirely vacuous if you leave it at that. What is the actual mechanism through which it can be harmful?

For example can you give me some realistic scenarios in which this leads to nuclear proliferation or an increased risk of nuclear weapons being used in war? Something with substance.

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Alex Willis

What is the actual mechanism by which it can be harmful?

Humans.

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traja

How? Give me the details how it all happens.

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Alex Willis

No. But Serrenity has suggested some interesting and highly credible directions for you, below.

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traja

So culture can change and be influenced by art. Therefore nukes in video games could lead to nukes in real life?

That really is all that I got from it as far as mechanics go. No description of how it happens in this case. No suggestion how it could be studied as a phenomenon.

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Alex Willis

nukes in real life

how it could be studied as a phenomenon

FFS

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traja

I don’t know. What about studying how important people think the threat of nuclear proliferation is when they are deciding between political candidates?

But let’s say that it can’t be done. Is your solution then just to accept the hypothesis and go with it? Without any evidence whatsoever?

Have to say that I am amazed that I am supposedly talking with highly educated people. Do your fields not value evidence at all?

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Alex Willis

Do your fields not value evidence at all?

nah man we mostly got high and argued about craft beer

Serrenity
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Serrenity

I’ll add on to what Alex is saying – I unfortunately don’t have a PhD, but I have a Masters in Media Studies.

What people need to understand, ESPECIALLY here, is that this kind of criticism isn’t bad — it’s good and healthy. It’s not saying that including nukes in a game is wrong, or evil, or should protect the children. (Seriously, go read the source before you comment). It is not moral outrage to make a statement like “This game treats nukes with less gravity than they deserve.” That is really solid discussion point and leads to some great conversation if you can get it out of your head that it has to be right or wrong and realize that asking the question is the important part.

For the flip side of this, culture is a weird beast and for all our advancement, we are pretty terrible at understanding how our culture changes and evolves. There’s a whole epistemological argument structure that can’t be explained in a snappy little sound byte, and I’m sure no one really cares about other than me. The short-and-short is that representation and meaning are not objectively defined but are always subjective and directly influence by the socio-cultural situation that spawned them.

[See Saussure and Semiotics for a good intro to this]

Any given cultural artifact taken in isolation can be pointed at and said that it didn’t have a direct casual relationship with a given outcome–which is true. But a collection of cultural artifacts representing something in the same manner over time can have a correlative effect on a given outcome. The same can be true in that a even a collection of cultural artifacts might not have a correlative effect on an individual, but the same collection of cultural artifacts can have a correlative effect on a community or a society.

It’s not an exact science, it’s not *supposed* to be an exact science. The value in rhetoric and critical studies is that asking the question, adopting the perspective, is the important part, not whether it’s “right” or not.

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Alex Willis

Great points.

There’s a subcurrent of reaction against progressive culture online — usually directed against straw men targets like “SJWs” — that loves to say, “if you don’t like it, don’t play it” or “it’s a game — it’s not real”. The radical anarchist in me loves to agree with this and wants to believe that we’re all free agents, free of any social influence or responsibility.

But this is an untenable and highly solipsistic attitude to take to the role of art in society. It seems ridiculous to suggest that things influence other things — that our brains and personalities are permeable, fungible, and phenomenologically influenced by, like, THINGS. And yet that is exactly the argument that progressive culture often has to make — to say, “Hey, wake up! Your [words/art] have meaning, and power. Think about what your [words/art] mean and how they might — KEY WORD HERE IS ‘MIGHT’ — influence others.”

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Baemir

You think the right isn’t aware of that? The same people that accuse the left of normalizing things that they perceive as harmful through constant repetition in the media?

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Mewmew

Games aren’t real. They’re not trivializing Nuclear War any more than they’re trivializing murder.

““ICBMs are not fun. Or funny,”

Neither is the non stop murder and pillaging we do daily in our games but it’s not real! They are fun in a world where there aren’t real consequences. We don’t start to think “Hey this would be cool to actually do to people” because we’re doing it in a game.

If you want to make a political game about the realities of nuclear war, go ahead and do so. But keep your greasy political hands away from my games otherwise.

This isn’t teaching us that Nuclear war is fun. We know the difference between reality and video games. We don’t need our games to be all serious and full of messages about real life.