Bethesda Softworks’ Fallout 3 is a really remarkable video game for lots of reasons, but above all, it’s immersive — you can be anyone you want, look any way you want, get a job, eat meals, listen to the radio, read, and even buy a house. It came out late last year and I only recently emerged from playing it (and only then after my girlfriend switched off my power strip).
When I faced the real world again, though, I realized something had changed. I was sharper and more nimble than I was before. My time in the world of Fallout 3 had actually helped me cope with the real world — thanks to some very important lessons the game taught me. In no particular order, here are my top five:
1. Convincing drug addicts to clean up is a great way to score free drugs.
Drugs are bad news, because not only do they hurt you, they hurt everyone in your family. At least, that’s what you tell Leo Stahl of Megaton during the “Power of the Atom” side quest. The real reason you’re helping him out is so he tells you where his hidden stash is, so you can then loot it and use the drugs for yourself. Neat idea, right? Just don’t get addicted. Unless you really need to in order to become smart enough to hack into a computer, because obviously that must work in the real world too.
2. There’s no such thing as reading books for pleasure.
We all know that some books can help you learn certain things, and others can be read just for fun, right? Wrong. In Fallout 3, mysteriously, the only books that survived the end of the world without being partially burned or destroyed teach you to be better at certain skills. I can only conclude, on the basis of the laws of probability, that pleasure reading never actually existed. No wonder I never have fun when I read.
3. Teddy bears make really awesome weapons.
Anybody can throw a teddy bear at someone. Nothing happens; the teddy bear just bounces off them and onto the floor. Lame. But if you construct a weapon specifically designed to slingshot inanimate objects at enemies — let’s call it the Rock-it Launcher — teddy bears magically turn into killing machines. Ever killed a raider by shooting a teddy bear at his head? It’s hard to top.
4. The “four minute mile” is B.S. It takes three minutes to run two.
In the real world, the National Mall — the stretch of Washington D.C. with the Lincoln Memorial on one end, the Washington Monument in the middle, and the Capitol on the other end — is two miles long. In Fallout 3, it takes my character almost exactly three minutes to jog from one end to the other. If you do a little math, you’ll find that means it’s possible to do a hundred meter dash in 5.6 seconds — again, while jogging. Considering the hundred meter dash world record is about 9 seconds, this leads me to the conclusion that most runners are secretly total wimps.
5. No matter how evil you are, all will be forgiven if you give a thirsty man enough purified water.
Go back on your word? Steal something? Kill someone? Sell a nice little orphan boy into slavery? Don’t worry — all will be forgiven on a karmic level as long as you do enough mundane good deeds. Like, and this is just one example, supplying the thirsty man outside of Megaton with enough purified water. People will be nicer to you and trust you, even if just yesterday you did something as bad as condemning little Bryan to a lifetime of thankless servitude by tricking him into wearing a slave collar.