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


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.