Video game violence: Skyrim vs Fallout 3

If you’ve read any of my Skyrim posts, you’ll know that I like Skyrim quite a lot and recommend it.  I’m writing this little post for parents, basically, who don’t know that much about video games.  When I wrote my first post on Skyrim, I knew that there were games that were more violent and had more gore in them than Skyrim, of course.  But after playing Fallout 3 – another Bethesda game with similarities to Skyrim, I wanted to share some thoughts.

Fallout 3 (2008) is violent and gory, no doubt about it.  It is rated M for mature, but so is Skyrim (2011).  Now, Fallout 3 is far gorier and has much more foul language in it (especially when the DLCs are added in), than Skyrim.  So, how can anyone know about these games unless they play them?  I mentioned in other posts how Skyrim has “passive gore” (bloody skeletons lying around), but that the game can become gorier if the right “perks” are chosen.  With Fallout 3, one cannot turn down the gore.  Comparing these two games, I’m surprised Skyrim isn’t rated T for teens; if the gore couldn’t be “turned up,” I imagine that it could be so rated.

Fallout 3 is definitely a grown up game, if anyone is interested in playing games like that.  It is a high quality game, with lots to do and actually much humor.  It has a lot more humor in it than Skyrim, and it is far far less glitchy, too.  It is more challenging, for sure, and the atmosphere and information in it are worth thinking about (the game takes place 200 years from now, after China and the USA have a major nuclear war).  It is like a morbid, crazy, and humorous Easter egg hunt for grown-ups.  But, all in all, these games are for people who want to relax and have the time to do them.  When I was a young adult, I was interested in my education and career, and rarely even watched TV.  I’m not sure how alluring these games would have been to me, since they are quite “addictive” (who wants to stop looking for eggs in the middle of the hunt?), however.   I believe this is something to consider when addressing game play of any kind with one’s kids.

From a Christian-cultural perspective, there’s one thing I think is neat about Fallout 3, and I wonder if it holds true for Fallout New Vegas (2010) or for the upcoming Fallout 4.   This is the fact that Jesus is held to be the epitome of good in the game.  Jesus is not talked about (that I know of right now), but when you behave well in the game and seek to be a good character, the term “karma” is used, but the image shown for the best levels are an image easily recognized as Jesus.  While the game makes fun of people following any old thing in the name of religion, it obviously gives a nod to true good.  There’s nothing wrong with pointing out how people make up religion and follow false prophets – it is something Christians should probably talk about publicly more, in fact.  Are we interested in people knowing the truth and getting into heaven, or could we care less that people are so easily led astray?  We are compared to sheep in the Bible, after all.

Note:  If you’re interested in finding out more about the Fallout series, my related articles are:  Fallout 4. Sometimes Bigger Isn’t Better (Overview),   Fallout 4. Sometimes Bigger Isn’t Better (Story); a detailed look at the Honest Hearts FNV DLC and its By the Waters of Babylon theme; and Fallout New Vegas: Comments from a Christian earlier.  Thanks for checking them out!


8 thoughts on “Video game violence: Skyrim vs Fallout 3”

  1. I find the notion of karma in F3 to be interesting as, despite a few side stories about cults and sects, there is really no talk of religion in fallout. However, Skyrim is simply immersed in lore and norse legends. I think that the fallout franchise draws on this idea of alturism, where really, the player has to wonder what the point of doing good things are if there is no god to think over or enforced punishment system. Having certain speech items open up or discounts of purchases makes it seem worth the kindness or goodness the character displays. However, that isn’t motivation enough to choose a certain path which really falls back on the gamer themselves and the choices they wish to make.

    The fact that these questions are even asked just shows what an adult game it is. There is so much in the game that reflects on religion and what it means to be morally good. Especially with so many abominations and mutants walking around, who really test the idea of being made in a certain image.


    1. Yeah, I know. They have these things in the games, but they don’t go anywhere with them, really. And in Skyrim, you can do more and get more if you’re a bad character. In other Elder Scroll games, you are recognized for being a good character and there are much more consequences for being a bad character. While it’s nice that there are spiritual things to Skyrim, they really took the meaning out by making it more beneficial to be a bad character. It’s sad in today’s culture that games glorify violence and repulsive behavior just to sell money; movies, at least, still promote virtue and unselfish actions.


      1. I think it’s really important though that there are consequences to bad behaviour in Fallout.

        For example, if you chow down on a corpse and you are viewed as doing that, you are instantly targeted by anyone near you and they shoot to kill. If you are obnoxious to main characters, they turn against you so that you can’t complete a quest. If you side with fractions that are known for being bloodthirsty, you lose the chance to join civilisation or enter metropolitan areas.

        However, in Skyrim, no matter what you do (besides killing a chicken), the townspeople or general population doesn’t change their mind about you. Only becoming a vampire has any real effects and that’s only if you haven’t fed for a while. There are no real consequences for bad behaviour, which probably is what coined the phrase that Skyrim is an ocean as deep as a pond.

        It’s interesting, personally, I don’t mind a game that includes suspect content, as long as it isn’t glorified. To be truly good and moralistic, you have to face the bad parts of life and decide against it, not ignore it or be ignorant to its existence.


        1. Thanks for your input and information. Since I haven’t played a bad character in Fallout 3, I didn’t know how the game handled it, although I know there is an achievement or something for being a bad character. But I’m glad to know that there are indeed unpleasant consequences for doing evil in that game. I wonder if it is the same in Fallout New Vegas, and if the new Fallout will have consequences or end up being more like Skyrim? It’s sad that Skyrim doesn’t have more morality to it, especially since it was obviously made so that younger people could play it.


          1. If anything, Fallout Las Vegas goes even more in-depth with the idea of morality. For example, one of my favorite quests is when the wanderer tries to befriend one of the mojave gangs called the Khans. In it are the drug pushers who send you on a quest to get more supplies so that they can sell more drugs. As the wanderer you have two choices, get the supplies to earn more money for yourself or forfeit the money and convince the drug pushers to develop medicine. If you choose the bad option, you lose karma in the main civilisation and become vilified, although the Khans accept you. If you choose the good option, the Khans respect you more, which helps you to unit the civilised culture and the gang culture and makes you better respected on the vegas strip (more discounts, more speech options etc). This in turns leads to a greater strength for the end battle.

            Another is how you distribute power. The NCR holds all power stations and you can use your science knowledge to repair their machines and distribute power. Do you distribute it to the strip, giving the NCR more power? Or to the wasteland, giving the gangs more power? Or to the inner suburbs, giving the citizens more power? It might seem like an easy choice but without the power of the NCR the gangs will take over, which may or may not be your focus.

            It’s very in-depth and, if you do it as a good guy (which I did on my first walk through) you feel positively holy by the end. Yes, it’s gory but I’ve never met someone who initially played through as the bad guy. Everyone ends up being very good.


            1. Thanks for that – it’s good to know! It makes me wonder even more about Bethesda and the Elder Scrolls series. I don’t know what’s wrong with them. The dedicated fan base just shakes their head. Why NOT continue that series in a moral manner? It’s very weird. I get so tired of game companies pandering to youth that supposedly won’t play a game without them being able to get away with being bad. I’m sure more parents, and adults who like to play games, would buy MORE games if they were simply well done, complex, and promoted goodness.


  2. Fallout 3’s opening song, with its visual aspect, is done so well–and it’s so melancholy–that I wanted to share it here. It’s a real contrast to the human condition as presented in the game – even with the real possibility of the destruction of mankind, the US govt and its scientists can’t just save mankind in its nuclear bomb proof vaults, but have planned and carried out atrocious experiments on the residents. For many who survived the bombs in these shelters, dying in the outer world would’ve been better.


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