The vault opens at MU for ‘Fallout 76’ game

November 17, 2018

HUNTINGTON - Gamers at Marshall University finally got to experience the highly anticipated “Fallout 76” on Thursday during the VaultMU Reclamation Day Celebration, where students and staff got the opportunity to play the game with other “Fallout” fans.

Though the event was a party, most of the room was quiet except for the clicking of game controllers and the occasional chatter. Every eye was glued to one of many screens as players explored the Mountain State-inspired world Bethesda Softworks crafted for the post-apocalyptic role-playing game.

Interim Special Collections department head Lori Thompson said rounding up the copies of “Fallout 76,” televisions and game systems for the event was not a difficult task among the “nerdy” staff who worked to put the party together, who provided their personal materials for students to experience the game. The party was a collaborative effort between Marshall Libraries, the College of Information Technology, digital humanities and the Marshall English Department.

The party took place in Special Collections, home to an abundance of West Virginia and Appalachian historical materials. It was only appropriate the video game, which uses the state’s history as a backbone upon which to build the franchise’s story, was celebrated among collections detailing history and folklore it references. Thompson said a symbiotic relationship with the game developed once it became apparent it was popular among Marshall University students and staff, giving the library staff a chance to show off their collections to those who may not wander into the mysterious Morrow Library.

“West Virginia has a rich mythology and folklore that has monsters like the Mothman and the Flatwoods Monster that play really well into a video game,” Thompson said. “We have quite a few books in this collection that talk about that. (Game developers) certainly included things like the blue-collar workers, the firefighters, the police officers that West Virginia has been known for.”

Thompson said the game has become a point of pride for gamers and non-gamers across the state because of how positively Bethesda represented the state in the game.

“When you come out of the vault, you’re immediately presented with this beautiful fall foliage and rolling hills and mountains and birds chirping and flowers, and we take that for granted sometimes,” Thompson said. “I think West Virginia as a state has a proud heritage in outdoor tourism, and they did a really good job in showing that. And that shows in all of the millions of downloads, the millions of fans around the world who may have never even heard of West Virginia or heard a good thing about West Virginia. I think that’s one of the things that drew our staff and students to it, because we don’t really get to see our state represented positively very often, and certainly not in a very popular game. They could have chosen anywhere, and they chose us.”

Thompson said the celebration was held the day after the game’s release in recognition of the university’s annual memorial day for the Nov. 14, 1970, plane crash that killed 75 Marshall football players, coaches, staff, supporters and the flight crew.

Follow reporter Megan Osborne on Twitter and Facebook @megosborneHD.

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