How Fallout 2 helped a young girl confront gender issues, immigrant status, and her own sexuality
Fallout 2 is still the greatest game ever made for just these reasons. The absolute freedom it gives you to define yourself and to find alternate methods of conflict resolution are just intoxicating.
Please read this.
One of the first challenges in Fallout 2 was to prove my worth to the tribe. I was supposed to do this by making my way through an ancient temple….but then I noticed that the only thing standing between me and the village was one guy.
I didn’t realize how much resentment I held against those gender roles until I became obsessed with killing this guy standing in my way in Fallout 2. He told me that no, I had no choice but to go through the temple. And what if I didn’t want to, you bastard? Why should I listen to you? What if I put this spear through your skull? So I did that instead, and to my amusement, it worked. The rest of the game fascinated me in this way, always giving me multiple ways to pursue a problem, many of them utterly clever.
I’d leave Arroyo on my own terms, and quickly found myself in the sleepy farming town of Modoc in my search for the village-saving GECK. Here I’d meet Miria, the daughter of Grisham the butcher. Imagine my astonishment when the game gives me the option to flirt with this woman. I hovered over the option for what seemed like an eternity–prior to that very moment, I had no idea a woman could desire another woman.
Even in the realm of homosexuality, my family ignored women. Men could sleep with men, and I’d very occasionally heard of those “sinners.” But lesbians? Inconceivable. Looking back now, it seems absurd that this was the case when you consider the constant anxiety driving my family to police my gender as a little girl, fearing that there might be something “wrong” with me, sexuality-wise. And yet the word lesbian was never uttered–let’s not even talk about bisexuality, which to this day, I can’t seem to explain to them. So back then I had no clear understanding of what it was that they feared, just the general knowledge that I wasn’t being a “proper lady,” whatever that meant.
Picking the paramour conversation options made me feel mischievous–partially because I knew it was wrong, as far as heterosexuality was concerned, but also because I genuinely…enjoyed it. I wasn’t supposed to be enjoying this, right? Prior to talking to Miria, I spoke to her brother, Davin. I could seduce him too, but that option seemed boring. I didn’t think much of this, then.
. . .
What I’m saying is, staying married in Fallout 2 was no easy feat. I did it anyway. I could have divorced, I could have sold my wife off to slavers, I could have even let her die. But instead I resisted temptation and I made sure to run away from deathclaws and super mutants regularly. Survival meant cutting down on heroics. I didn’t know why it was important to me that she stayed alive no matter how much of a burden, but it was. And when she watched me slip into power armor for the first time, it felt significant. Partially because it was such fantastic, difficult-to-acquire gear, but mostly because the body of the person underneath disappeared. I wasn’t a woman. I was a force not unlike the antagonist of Fallout 2, Frank Horrigan.
. . .