I don’t want to set the world on fire…or do I? : playing (with) history in Fallout 3
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While considering the role of media in shaping and examining histories, we must also grapple with formal limitations in approaching and understanding the past. The thesis aims to bring video games into critical conversations regarding history, memory, and nostalgia by considering the similar and unique perspectives the medium can bring alongside film, television, radio, and literature. Player positionality and interactivity within the unconventional, non-linear game storytelling form allows for different engagements with history. Focusing on the futuristic, post-apocalyptic role-playing game Fallout 3 (2008), this study interrogates the game’s nuanced presentation of genre as a cultural mediation of the past, the negotiation of memory with history, and our problematic assumptions about technology and narratives of progress. While the study finds games may provide rewarding and potentially critical explorations of history, the self-reflexive nature of video gaming emphasizes the medium’s possibilities, limitations, and implications as a cultural product shaped by the very forces constructing history.