Retro imagery featured in the Fallout video-game series is coincidentally well suited to West Virginia, says an architectural historian who expects the state's portrayal in the Fallout 76 game will be positive.
"As for the retro images in the game, I happen to love that kind of thing, and I don’t think it conflicts with West Virginia’s image," Courtney Fint Zimmerman said of imagery that includes hardware and architecture reminiscent of the 1950s.
An expert in architectural history in the Mountain State, Zimmerman has spent years traveling its hills and cataloging its architecture.
The trailer for Fallout 76 features scenes from inside a bunker in which survivors have been celebrating their release after an atomic attack. It also features war-torn landscapes filled with houses more nearly reminiscent of West Virginia of the '50s and '60s than of today.
"I mean, honestly, there are a lot of places in the state that seem frozen in time, because there just hasn’t been a lot of development or capital to change, replace, or upgrade. As far as historic preservation goes, if something is mothballed long enough to get past the 'dated' stage and into the retro, vintage, or historic category in the public perception, we count ourselves lucky.
"Maybe we can make that retro-vintage thing work for West Virginia, rather than looking at our old buildings as dated and undesirable."
Zimmerman, a native of Aurora, in Preston County, says she is also interested in the game's apparent portrayal of mountaineers as tough and rugged.
"Of course I guess no one knows completely what the imagery and portrayal of the state will be, but generally I’d say anything that has West Virginians in the role of hero rather than victim is positive. It is another kind of stereotype that mountain people are more tough and rugged than others, but one that we like a little better. "
She says she also thinks the game will help increase tourism in a positive respect.
"As for the imagery of the state, it may at least make people a little more aware that West Virginia is a real, actual state with things to see, and maybe they will be intrigued and want to visit.
"There is also a risk that the imagery will associate West Virginia in people’s minds as a post-apocalyptic wasteland. In general, I think anything that simply uses West Virginia as a setting for a story without making a big thing of poverty or accents or mining is most likely a good thing."
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