Romance Never Changes…Or Does It?: Fallout, Queerness, and Mods

Howard Kenton Taylor
2019 DiGRA '19 - Proceedings of the 2019 DiGRA International Conference: Game, Play and the Emerging Ludo-Mix

Romance options are common in mainstream games, but since games have been criticized for their heteronormativity, such options are worth examining for their contribution to problematic elements within gaming culture. The Fallout series suffers from many of these issues; however, recent games in the can be modded, offering fans a way to address these problems. In this paper, I examine heteronormative elements of the Fallout series’ portrayal of queerness to demonstrate how these issues impacted the series over time. I also look more specifically at heteronormative mechanics and visuals from Fallout 4, the most recent single-player game in the series. Finally, I discuss three fan-created mods for Fallout 4 that represent diverse approaches to adding queer elements to the game. I argue that one effective response to problematic portrayals of queerness in games is providing modding tools to the fans so that they can address issues in the games directly.


Free-to-Play or Pay-to-Win?: Casual, Hardcore, and Hearthstone

Howard Kenton Taylor
2018 DiGRA '18 - Proceedings of the 2018 DiGRA International Conference: The Game is the Message

“Casual” and “hardcore” are commonly used descriptive terms for games and gamers. While critics have discussed these terms with regards to game design and culture, “free-to-play” games like Blizzard’s Hearthstone add a monetary dimension to such considerations. Players can play such games for free, but success at them often entails purchasing in-game content. These games are sometimes instead derisively referred to as “pay-to-win:” players who spend money win more often. Free-to-play games suggest that casual and hardcore depend on how much money a player spends on the game, in addition to measures like time investment or play practices. I argue that free-to-play games encourage casual players to become more hardcore by spending more money on them in addition to improving their skills at the game, using Hearthstone as a case study to examine the implications of the free-to-play pricing structure on both game design and game players.