My Most Patriotic Video Game
Posted on Thursday, July 5 @ 09:40:29 PST by Nicholas Tan
Yesterday, with the sound of fireworks roaring behind the hill in my backyard, over a hearty meal comprised of a homemade oxtail stew, an oven-baked chicken, mashed potatoes, and a humble apple pie, I unequivocally thought about Independence Day, about patriotism and video games.
I don't naturally consider myself a patriotic person. I don't particularly care for overt displays of American loyalty, like putting a flag on a gas-guzzler or telling Canadians and Europeans that America is the greatest country in the world. Though living in America is better than living in many other countries, I support world citizenship and the idea that being born in one country doesn't necessarily make that country better than any other.
For me, a picture of Captain America punching Hitler in the face is more satisfying in a visceral way than an American way—the same goes for video games. When I happen to play as the Marines in any of the Call of Duty titles, Guile in Street Fighter II, or Captain America himself in Marvel vs. Capcom 3 or Captain America: Super Soldier, I am more engaged by the gameplay and what I need to do to win at that very moment than by whatever nationalistic themes are overlaid upon the core design. It's not that I don't embrace the appeal of defending the American homeland from foreign invaders as in, say, Homefront. It's just that sadistic pleasure normally trumps American pride.
So it took me longer, though not by much, to discover what game made me feel the most patriotic: Fallout 3. Certainly, all of the Ink Spots songs on the radio and the WWI-styled posters give off the good ol'-fashioned American vibe, as do the numerous Nuka-Cola bottles and boxes of Dandy Boy Apples. Of a more serious tone, the Washington DC ruins place the state of America right in the face of the player. The setting immediately delivers both a sense of desperation and of nationalism.
But it wasn't until the quest "Stealing Independence" that I felt true patriotism. Perhaps it was the obvious significance of The Declaration of Independence, despite being a document that might as well be a piece of parchment with faded words and ink in the Capitol Wasteland. The quest giver, Abraham Washington, in Rivet City is an American exaggeration just by name, but it does show that in a post-apocalyptic time like this, that in a post-apocalyptic time it takes an extreme desire in a post-apocalyptic time just to think of historical preservation.
I can't deny that I finished Stealing Independence in part out of completing all the major side quests in the game, as earning experience points and extra caps can be done merely through careful exploration. At the same time, I couldn't help but feel like I was doing something much more important than gaining digital loot and numerical achievement.
Retrieving the Declaration of Independence was believing in it—its existence and its value. Sure, it is given a value in caps, but it's the concept of keeping American ideals alive, that "all men are created equal" and that they are endowed with the rights to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness", that's far more valuable. In a world full of violence and chaos, that was something worth fighting for. I felt thoroughly American.
Has there been a game that made you feel American?
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