How Fallout 4 Helped Me Vote


I know. it’s weird, but hear me out …

If you weren’t already up to your ears in political debate [read: future Presidents bickering like YouTube commenters] I have more for you! Today was the 2016 Electoral Primaries for my home state of Illinois, and with all the bat-shit-craziness going on, I felt I couldn’t just leave my vote until November. Election years are always difficult. Being the INFJ that I am, I always want to have the most information possible. Preferably lined up lined up in color-coded spreadsheets. That’s not always an option though, and parsing truth from lie on the campaign trail can be quite difficult.

It’s a heavy choice, having even a small say in who our next leader will be, and everyone has an opinion on which way to vote. Leaving many opinions and a struggle for personal clarity. Until last night I was on the fence as to whether I wanted to vote at all. And the polling place is exactly 9 minutes from my house [according to Google]. So it’s not like I’m Sisyphus here, having to fight to preform my civic duties.

I’ve been voting since 2001 and one each has been a challenge; I don’t fit neatly into either the Democrat or Republican camp. I never have, even when I was keeping my more liberal beliefs hidden from my conservative [or completely apathetic] family and friends. Which means I can’t look at a candidate’s affiliations and assume they’ll stand up for my needs and values. I have to view both sides as unbiasedly as I can, and then choose based on my priorities.

It’s not an easy way to vote. There is no blindly falling in rank with a mascot, or following the age old tradition of voting the way my parents did. At least not if I want it to mean something. Because if I’m just going to blankly fill in dots down the party line, I can think of more productive things to do with my time.

Enter Fallout 4.

I rented Fallout 4 from the library, and have been playing it exclusively for almost a week. Not in love with it enough to fork over nearly $60, but it’s been a decent break from my normal go-to-game, Dragon Age: Inquisition. I enjoy the crafting and the design aesthetic, but story-wise it’s a straight snorefest. And the dialogue … oh gods the dialogueIt burns! It burns, Precious!

Now, before you get upset, I enjoy a shoot em and loot em [see: my love of Borderlands] game. But BL had the good grace (and savvy) to be funny as hell, fast paced and genuinely entertaining. Fallout 4 is skating by on it’s novelty design, as far as I can tell.

But I digress.

While gaming last night, I was stuck in a quest that could – frankly – only end in bloodshed. Not to spoil too much, but there’s conflict involving two parties at Drumlin Diner over the purchasing of drugs. Now, neither side was looking too shiny in my book. I abhor drug trafficking and I’m very anti-drug in my day to day life. All of my morals and beliefs typically influence my play-style with my primary characters. If I want to be a renegade, or different race, that’s what alts are for.

So my character, Hannah, generally tries to aim for the most positive – or at least the most neutral – outcome. Obviously, in a game centered around shooting, this isn’t always possible. But I’d been hoping that with enough persuasion skill points (heretofore known as: Charisma), I might be able to work some magic between the two parties where everyone was appeased and nobody got shot.

Unfortunately, due to triggering the beginning of the quest before I had enough points to woo both sides into submission, I was stuck in a spot where one of them was going to die. No matter what I did. Now I could have gone back to a previous quick-save, thereby losing a chunk of playtime, in an attempt to end in perfect peace. Or I could play the conflict as it stood.

Which got me thinking about the election and life in general.

There are no quick-saves in this life, no previous loads to roll back to when we make a mistake. If there were I guarantee you, I’d roll right back to high-school to take more Math classes, learn German instead of Spanish and ask every single one of my crushes out. I’d also totally kissed that sweet nerdy Freshmen who danced with at me at the prom. Lastly, I’d skip the heartbreak that was Westwood college, getting back together with my ex, and online dating …

giphy-2[My “I Should’ve Ended This Metaphor Earlier” Face]

In fact, if quick-saves existed in life, that entire last paragraph would be obsolete because I would have changed things already. But I have a point, and it’s this: we can’t engineer ourselves the “perfect” candidate. There is no perfect President, or perfect vote. We have to play the conflict as it stands.

No backups, no previous saves. In this time and place, with the options at hand, we have to look at the possible solutions in front of us and make an imperfect choice. There is no magical answer, no one single candidate or political party that’s going to be the cure-all for our entire nation. There’s only each and every one of us making the best choice we can. For ourselves and our country.

The only other option I can see is apathy, which was a track I just couldn’t risk this time. My candidate may not make it to the top, but at least I can comfortably say I went out and made the strongest choice I could. That I fought, even nominally, to make my country better today. No matter who you voted for, I hope you did too.

Now all we have to do is survive until November … 😉

Categories: Entertainment, Gaming, Politics
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