Fallout 3 and Game Violence’s Taboo

Emil Pagliarulo talks about censorship and social responsibility in an Edge Online op-ed piece.

Fallout 3 is an M-rated game made for adults. Its violence is over-the-top and has been a central focus of not only our game, but the entire franchise. This is a series that in previous installments allowed players to kill children, right? When Bethesda first started developing Fallout 3, we had early conversations about whether you’re going to be able to blow the kids’ heads off . (Let’s be clear, with the ESRB’s rating system, that’s not something that would fly anyway.)

But then we began to think, really what benefit would there be in killing the kids in the game? It just seems gratuitous, unnecessary and cruel. The reverse of that is some of the great stories that have been told that involve kids. Look at George R. R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire books. Kids play an important part in that series, and violence to those kids is an important part of those stories.

You really have to balance out and consider if doing violence to a child in a game is so important to your story that it outweighs any kind of social responsibility you might have.

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