Since 1997, the Fallout series has successfully explored queerness. From same-sex representation to bisexual romances, here’s how the game has influenced and impacted the gaming industry.
You might not expect the post-apocalyptic, battle-scarred, mutant-filled wastelands of the Fallout series to be particularly LGBT+ friendly, but the games have long been a fan favourite amongst the LGBT+ community, and rightfully so.
Fallout is a truly pioneering RPG series that has truly deep-dived into exploring the many different portrayals of gender, sexuality and more, successfully depicting queerness through its many characters and storylines.
From its earliest days, the games’ play style was described as problematic by critics for not sticking with the classic heteronormativity that RPG game fans were used to.
Developer Bethesda put romance options at the forefront of the game, giving players the chance to find lesbian, gay and bisexual love, meaning that the Fallout series’ contribution to the gaming industry – helping it becoming more inclusive to the LGBT+ community than ever before – will go down in history.
Without further ado, let’s take a look at how the Fallout titles have approached visibility and the importance and understanding of queer inclusivity, starting with the first-ever game 24 years ago.
Fallout: A Post Nuclear Role Playing Game, most commonly known as Fallout or Fallout 1, was developed by Interplay Productions in 1997. Set in a post-apocalyptic, mid-22nd century world, Fallout follows a protagonist known as “the Vault Dweller” who is forced to venture out into the wastes to find a replacement part to fix their failing water supply system and save their fellow Vault dwellers.
The game’s inclusion of sex workers, with the ability to hire them and engage in sexual acts for money at several brothels and bars, was one of the main controversies surrounding the game upon its release. It also wasn’t a particularly LGBT+ friendly set up. Only players using a male character could hire Sinthia, in Junktown’s Crash House, for personal gain, whilst female leads didn’t have that ability – however, they could flirt with her.
During a mission where players have to rescue Sinthia, if you’re playing as a male lead, she’ll offer you sex for free and will even suggest flirting with a guard at the entrance to Level One of the Brotherhood of Steel to gain access. However, if you’re playing as a female lead you have enough charisma to pass her charisma check: only then will she provide you with a service.
Fallout 2 (1998)
Widely regarded as the first RPG that allowed full-blown same-sex marriage – before it was even legal in the US – and only the second (behind the Great Greed game from 1992) to have same-sex relationships, Fallout 2 saw gender and sexuality become the main topics of conversation, and a big factor that led to the game’s success. Set 80 years after the events of Fallout, it tells the story of the original hero’s descendant and their quest to save their primitive tribe from starvation by finding an ancient environmental restoration machine known as the Garden of Eden Creation Kit (GECK).
Fallout 2 followed the same format as its predecessor, giving players a choice between playing as a male or female lead. It also included NPC sex workers, and male lead characters could have sex with male NPCs for the first time.
It’s fair to say that these very ahead of their time same-sex romance options were game-changing when it came to LGBT+ representation.
Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel (2004)
Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel (2004) wasn’t quite as ground-breaking as its predecessor, however, anyone could hire the sex worker Ruby regardless of whether they were playing as a male or female lead character.
Fallout 3 (2008)
The third official instalment in the franchise introduced its first lesbian couple, Carole and Greta, in the Underworld. At least, many people believe that they’re lesbians, anyway: their story shows them sleeping in the same bed.
However, some fans have speculated that they weren’t in a relationship and fact, the reason they share a mattress is that Carol sees Greta as more of a daughter than anything else, as fellow male characters Flak and Shrapnel are openly gay and sleep in the same room but different beds.
In terms of romance options for the player character, options are more limited, however a sex worker called Nova can be hired by male and female PCs.
Fallout: New Vegas (2010)
Fallout: New Vegas introduced Dazzle, a female sex worker living in Gomorrah’s courtyard in 2281. It also included male sex workers like Jimmy and Maude for the first time. It’s thought by many that Fallout: New Vegas saw the series peak when it came to the queer romance.
Deep in the Gomorrah Casino, players of any gender flirt with the male sex workers and even hire them in Pretty Sarah’s brothel in the Casa Madrid Apartments.
Your playable character, regardless of gender or sexuality, could recruit workers for the Atomic Wrangler Casino by having sex with them. These included Fisto (a sexbot); Beatrix Russell (a cowgirl dominatrix ghoul) and Old Ben or Santiago (two suave, male sex workers).
Simply put, you can be gay in Fallout 4. You can build relationships with love interests in the game and romance them, if you do you’ll be an item. You can’t get married in the game, unlike its trailblazing predecessor, but you can always imagine it.
Over the years, fans of the game have taken to social media to express their love and admiration for Fallout, thanking the game for its LGBT+ representation and how it successfully handled virtual same-sex marriage.
In short, there’s no denying the impact Fallout has had on the gaming community. Giving its players the opportunity to fully explore the many different possibilities when it comes to sexuality in the most unapologetic way, Fallout created a safe space for LGBT+ gamers.