Mormon gamer praises Fallout for getting his culture right

"I'm a 31-year-old, fifth-generation Mormon (member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) from Salt Lake City, Utah and I love video games." Skip Cameron, in a guest post at Kotaku. He says pop culture generally mocks Mormon faith and culture, but Fallout got it right.


  1. Interesting article. I’m not a gamer, but from a speculative fiction standpoint it seems quite neat. I wish I could say the same for some of the letters in response. 

    1. The comments at Kotaku are revolting. Even the most non-controversial, neutral subjects lead to people shitting all over each other. Even if something interesting pops up there it tends to attract or get buried in angry, entitled, bigoted horse shit. 

      So in that regard I’m kind of shocked the writer even submitted this article there. The staff over there seem to be trying to push the site into a more intelligent, broader direction though. Maybe this sort of thing will have an effect in the long run.

    1.  This is a real point. The post seems to imply that “mocking” and “getting it right” are mutually exclusive, but think of anyone who, say, loves Star Wars and makes fun of it, or studies English but jokes about English majors, or is Jewish and does “Jewish humor.” The South Park guys seem to have a lot of familiarity with, and a bit of affection for, the Mormon doctrine they lampoon.

  2. On the one hand, it’s nice to see people feeling more and fairly represented by the culture they find themselves

    On the other hand, I don’t feel like the article said anything I didn’t already know and I struggled to finish it, hoping in vain for some sort of compelling point or unexpected insight.

    Kind of a net neutral experience for me.

    1. The ‘pointing out how rare the phenomenon is’ bit was interesting; but there were a number of things that seemed under-explored:

      He mentions the Followers of the Apocalypse; but not their (occasionally slightly creepy, especially Ignacio Rivas) distinctly Utilitarian flavor. 

      No response to the surprising fact that one of the Courier’s dialog choices, when first meeting Graham, is complete puzzlement at the notion of ‘god’. Unless that line is a non-canonical throwaway, Mormonism, along with various emergent cults, survived the war; but the nebulous cloud of approximately-christian-ish monotheism background knowledge apparently hasn’t. Other than the Mormons, who are pretty specifically mormon, overall religious activity is strikingly low.

      An apparent lack of the impression that Graham is one of the more genuinely scary guys in the game. The fiends? I wouldn’t want to meet one; but they, along with the raiders, exist largely because Mad Max teaches us that the apocalyptic wasteland will have crazed psycho gangs. Caesar? Nasty piece of work; but childishly petulant even within his first dialog tree if you push him a bit. The Think Tank? Like the fiends, too dedicated to playing out B movies to really have that Dr. Mengele vibe that their actions should earn them.

      Graham, though, guy is intense(and he isn’t even an antagonist). Bam, step into a dark cave and a guy swathed in horrible burns is talking about darkness and smashing babies heads against rocks. Then he has you going from collecting lunchboxes to launching a war of extermination and executing prisoners as though there was barely a change of pace(after all…). 

      Especially when compared to Daniel, who is all bleeding heart, even post-legion reformed Graham is a really disconcerting character.

  3. Somehow he failed to mention the details of Vault 70, the vault full of naked Mormons where all the jumpsuit extruders were made to fail after 6 months as a social experiment.

    1.  You have to dig around on computers to find that info, it’s possible he wasn’t playing a character with a high Science skill?

        1. Are you implying that Mormonism and science are incompatible? Tell this Henry Eyring, who made substantial contributions to theoretical chemistry while being a devout Mormon.

          1. The same people that will mock LDS will also praise the Ender’s Game series while forgetting how heavily Mormon it is in places. I don’t like Orson Scott Card and I think Mormonism is silly, but it’s wrong to mock people based on their religion when that is only one aspect of a whole person. It just divides humanity even further apart.

          2. I’m not sure about that; I generally find a good degree of correlation between mockery of the LDS church and contempt for OSC’s bigotry.

          3. I guess this fellow had a compartmentalized mind too: I think he nailed it when it comes to to making assumptions about others’ understanding. Whether one accepts Cameron’s religion or not, I have a problem when a simple discussion about that culture turns into a pile-on (actually, a pile-on from all sides, based on the post on his blog from that Christian fellow. Good to know that atheists and fundamentalists can agree on one thing).

          4. Einstein was clearly an atheist in the way that actually matters — he didn’t believe in a literal, personal god that could actually do something for you if you worship it or smite its enemies, and was very clear on this point.

            But  like many people of his day, he confused nihilism with atheism and so was reluctant to call himself an atheist.

          5. @ Jonathan. Sure. I don’t think he was talking about atheism, but about assumptions of superiority, judgment, and persecution. His objection was to being made a poster boy for those campaigns. But he also spoke about limits to our understanding, and not just in a scientific sense.

          6. As someone who is into molecular phylogeny, yeah, it *is* incompatible with science if you believe Amerinds are descendants of a lost tribe of Israel. They aren’t. They are very clearly of Asian origin, thus disproving the hypothesis of the Book of Mormon. Yes, some fields of science like chemistry are able to be done by religious folks because they are unchallenging to world views (as far as I know, no religion ever felt atomic theory was blasphemous).

          7. Careful, don’t get drawn into the trap. :)  The question, among other things, sets up a false dichotomy.  If you say Yes or No, you open yourself to all sorts of counter arguments and being accused of prejudice or hypocrisy.

            If you accept that the question is valid and give a Yes or No answer, you are implicitly accepting that “Mormonism” defines a homogeneous set of beliefs that are shared by all Mormons, and that this definition is accepted.

            If you accept THAT, you imply that any fundamentalist Mormon would agree that a member of the LDS church is a “true Mormon”, and vice versa.

            Or we could sit back, remember that this is an article praising a post-apocalyptic FPS game for the accurate portrayal of a particular religion’s beliefs, blink a few times, and promptly facepalm.

          8.  I have Mormon colleagues who do very good evolutionary biology and molecular phylogeny. Top-notch scientists in those fields.

            They don’t work on mammals, so I don’t know their thoughts on human population biology and the utility of the techniques they are using for testing hypotheses about Smithian origin myths. It could be an interesting discussion, or not.

          9. It’s hard to answer your question, assuming that it wasn’t rhetorical and you really want an answer, as I’m not sure what you are actually asking.

            I think you’re asking if it is impossible, in my opinion, for an avowed member of the Mormon faith to understand and apply the Scientific Method.  If that was your question, I would say “No, I do not think it is impossible.”  This is probably not a satisfying answer, but your original question was a Straw Man built out of your assumptions about the nature of my assumptions, and I don’t think spending the next several days analyzing your question and enumerating all of the possible meanings and responses would be very satisfying to me.

            If you wish to discuss this further, please unambiguously define your intended meanings of the words “Mormonism”, “science”, and “incompatible”.  I don’t want to be pilloried for answering a question that I wasn’t asked.

  4. I’m a trifle surprised that he didn’t mention the interactions between Joshua and Daniel, throughout Honest Hearts. They are the other significant mormon-related material in Fallout New Vegas(and, arguably, more interesting, or at least more detailed, than the cut material with Driver Nephi).

  5. I was raised Mormon and the longer I’ve been away from the church the stranger it seems. Mormonism’s role in Fallout is pretty effective though, from what I’ve seen.

  6. Unfortunately for Skip, fundamentalist Mormons are the ones who have actually got the faith right, at least according to the Book of Mormon.

    Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer is a very interesting and unbiased read on the subject.

  7. So on one hand you have people who take the Joey Smith story as factual history, and on the other you have a video game with a robot cowboy and endless Dean Martin songs.

    Which one is the more accurate depiction of Mormon faith?

    1. It’s always interesting to me when someone refers to Joseph Smith as “Joe”. “Joey” is actually a first for me. I mean, what is the purpose of shortening the name (other than, I dunno, to sound… cool?, or distinct or separated from the subject or something)? I’m not saying it’s being derogatory or that it’s wrong or blasphemous or something, because it really doesn’t matter – to each their own. But, you don’t hear people referring to other 19th century historical figures in quite the same way. But, I’m not a historian so I really don’t know what the preferred naming conventions are. Still, I’ve never heard anything like “Watch out for Nappy B, he’ll invade your country!” lol

      1. But, you don’t hear people referring to other 19th century historical figures in quite the same way.

        Like Abe Lincoln?

        1. That’s actually a good example. I’d say Abe as a name is endearing; it makes me think of the nickname “Honest Abe”. But as far as I am aware, “Joe Smith” is typically used dismissively or derisively or to otherwise bug Mormons. But, I could be wrong – maybe there are lots of textbooks that honestly refer to him as Joe?

      2. I always refer to the recently un-Poped or post-Poped Joeseph Ratzinger as “Joey Ratz”.  I prefer “Barry O.” to “Barack Obama”.  

        I guess I’m just one cool, laid back mutha.

  8. “One big reason for this was because his fall was precipitated by very human failings (fear of death, lust for power, pride, etc.), not a failing specific to his religion.”


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