Could Fallout really happen?

Sup realists!

Welcome back to the grand finale of our #GGE3 celebration!

Ok ok, now I know this is a little late (or maybe even a lot late), but I’ve had some serious fires that I have needed to put out on the degree front. So apologies for my spinelessness but without further ado (I hope), let’s crawl out through the fallout!

“War never changes”, and neither does Bethesda who are back at again with the new Fallout game! Now Fallout had a pretty big impact on my final year of undergrad when one of my closest friends finally coaxed me into playing Fallout 3. Despite my love for Bethesda’s other massive IP: The Elder Scrolls,  I had never really dabbled into the irradiated lands of post-apocalyptic America. But when I did finally take the plunge I was hooked like a ghoul on mentats (not the best analogy I know). Tramp on mentats?

grayscale photo of explosion on the beach
Photo by Pixabay on

Now, while Fallout was taking up much of my free time, during class I was focusing on something a little different: my dissertations (I can tell you’re licking your lips now). And for one of my dissertations, I had to write about some of the theoretically approaches to international politics. As you can probably tell, these two things are pretty different and really have no place being in the same article. But this isn’t your average loser blog, no this is GGAL, a special loser blog! So damn right I’m bringing these things together.

Now pay attention kids cause this is important! My dissertation was based on a political theory called Structural Realism (academics and their dirty talk), which basically says that international relations are all about power , the super mutant gets the worm! This goes back to Ancient Greece and the Peloponnesian War (which is, incidentally, the setting of the new Assassin’s Creed title). In this case, the Sparta, the big dogs of the time, went to war with an emerging city state, Athens, for the sole reason of keeping the upstarts in their place (did no one tell them that this is Sparta?) So Realism doesn’t care about politics, diplomacy, culture or anything else; only power. Crash course over.

acropolis ancient antique archaeology
Photo by Pixabay on

So why does this matter in the Fallout universe? Well dear reader, I have been looking over the fallout timeline and my Realist brain has been absolutely popping. The first explosive event happens in 2052 which sees the disbanding of the United Nations and the beginning of what’s called the “resource war” (meh politicians are just a bunch of radroaches anyway right?). This is a real Megaton from a realist point of view because we have lost the major “structure” of this world. Now the world of Fallout has fallen into a literally state of anarchy where everyone is trying to horde as much power and resources as possible, after all, who knows what the intentions of your neighbours? Take your friendly old neighbour Johnny, rather than coming over for a cup of sugar, he may now be coming over… for murder!

By 2060, oil wells have almost completely emptied with the middle east now entirely dry. The last of the world’s reserves can be found in Alaska, obviously controlled by the superpower that is the United States and therefore unavailable to other nations, cementing the American hegemony. Or at least that is how it would work in a system with structures as exists today. But the world of Fallout is basically the Wild West and so the most probable scenario is war. And that’s exactly what happens in 2066 when Chinese troops invade across the Anchorage Line. Through superior military technology (power armor anyone?), the United States eventually repel the Chinese forces and reclaim Alaska, finally establishing themselves as the lone super power and restoring order to a lawless world… except that’s not what happens. As I’ve been trying to highlight throughout this article, without structures, the international system is in chaos, and countries will always fear the actions of their neighbours and react accordingly. So what action is necessary when a country controls all the resources and cannot be beaten on the ground? The last resort: nuclear Armageddon. And so the plot of Fallout 4 begins.

war chess
Photo by Gladson Xavier on

Whoa that was bleak. So that was an overview of Realist theory and I think it maps pretty well onto how things unfolded in Fallout. The scary thing here is that many Realist thinkers have drawn parallels to real world events, and I think many would say that the current international environment isn’t the stablest its ever been.

GG Everyone.

[featured image owned by GGAL]

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