AP NEWS

‘Fallout 76’ launch party announced

October 30, 2018

HUNTINGTON — Talk to John Barton for a minute and you realize he gets super stoked about two things — playing video games and helping people.

The executive director of West Virginia Autism is combining those loves this fall as Barton has organized “The Official Unofficial Fallout 76 Reclamation Day Celebration of West Virginia,” a charity fundraising event to benefit Cafe Appalachia, Children’s Home Society of WV, WV Autism and WV Healthy Kids and Families Coalition.

The event will take place 7 to 11 p.m. Friday, Nov. 9, in the Don Morris Room of Marshall University’s Memorial Student Center. The Launch Party will feature music by Heavy Hitters, Christopher Vincent of Qiet and The Dividends. There will be Fallout cosplayers and the chance to play “Fallout 76” (dependent on Beta schedule).

Tickets are $20 or two for $30 and are on sale now at https://reclaimwv.com/

The first major video game ever set in West Virginia, “Fallout 76,” is a post-apocalyptic video game with an atompunk style based on the culture and style of the American 1950s. It’s part of the popular “Fallout” series, which has featured four main “Fallout” games since 1997. The last was “Fallout 4″ in 2015. “Fallout 76,” is the third in a series of spin-off games that have included “Fallout: New Vegas” in 2010 and “Fallout Shelter” in 2015.

Barton said he knew he had to do something special to celebrate the Nov. 14 release of “Fallout 76,” which is expected to generate nearly $1 billion in sales in the first 24 hours of its release and introduce 20 million players from around the world to the beauty and history of West Virginia.

The game pays homage to West Virginia by showcasing more than 50 sites including such iconic West Virginia sites as Huntington’s historic amusement park Camden Park, the gold-domed State Capitol, the west entrance of The Greenbrier, the New River Gorge Bridge and Woodburn Hall at WVU in Morgantown.

Locally, there is also the Ric Griffith Pumpkin House, Hillbilly Hotdogs, and many other landmarks in the video game in which players battle such West Virginia monsters as Mothman in a post-apocolyptic landscape made of up six different regions.

“A major theme of ‘Fallout 76’ is Reclamation Day - the day the vault opens and residents leave to reclaim their homes despite the danger and devastation that awaits them outside,” Barton said. “We wish to recognize that spirit of resilience and perseverance West Virginians are known for and celebrate a game that captures what it means to be a Mountaineer so well.”

Barton said he chose the non-profit groups — Caf Appalachia, Children’s Home Society, WV Autism, and WV Healthy Kids and Families Coalition — because they are all working toward solutions to the myriad problems in West Virginia.

“Our goal with this event is to support local efforts to reclaim West Virginia and find solutions to some of our most serious issues: addiction and recovery, foster care, lack of disability services and poverty,” Barton said. “I think these groups made a wonderful Venn diagram for improving the lives of people here and encompasses the whole problem collectively. There is not a magic wand to fix everything, but these groups are finding solutions and programs that work.”

Barton said he is working with the game makers and Marshall’s Computer Information Technology department to set up a Beta event (a short term, usually two or three hour window) for video gamers to be able to get a sneak peek at “Fallout 76,” which is the first multi-player Fallout game.

One of the lucky few to be able to already play “Fallout 76,” during the early October preview and promotional event at The Greenbrier, Barton also held a four-hour-long Beta event last week to give some other folks in the Charleston and Huntington area a chance to see the game.

“The comments are overwhelmingly positive and the feedback has been how gorgeous it looks and in my mind I am like well, it looks exactly like the state looks,” Barton said of some of the scenery in the game. “I can show you a picture that looks just like that where I am looking right now.”

Both for himself, and for other West Virginians playing the game, Barton said there’s an incredible sense of pride, and one thing he noticed last week at the Beta event was that gamers immediately went to their home area in the game to see what it looked like.

“They immediately started out trying to find their hometown and running up to Wheeling or Morgantown or Welch and checking it out,” Barton said.

Barton said Bethesda Game Studios and “Fallout 76′s” director and executive producer Todd Howard — who was raised in Pennsylvania and went to college in Virginia — do not boil up old, negative stereotypes of West Virginians.

“There are no mutant hillbillies,” Barton said. “But you can add a coal miner mod (character modification). There’s a lot of history that got pulled into the game.”

In organizing the charity event, Barton said he wanted to use the game’s popularity and celebration of home to create a ripple impact beyond tourism. He hopes to host an annual celebration of “Fallout 76,” since the game span of a video game can last for five years or more.

“If you look at how successful the Camden Park meet-up was in the summer, and then the Mothman Festival had an attendance increase between 30 and 50 percent, you see that it is definitely causing people to want to explore the areas in the game,” Barton said. “I wanted to give people a chance to collectively come together and do something good with that interest and to help shed a little light on the people here who are looking for solutions.”

If You Go

WHAT: “The Official Unofficial Fallout 76 Reclamation Day Celebration of West Virginia,” a charity fundraising event to benefit Cafe Appalachia, Children’s Home Society of WV, WV Autism, and WV Healthy Kids and Families Coalition. The Launch Party will feature music by Heavy Hitters, Christopher Vincent of Qiet and The Dividends. There will be Fallout cosplayers, and the chance to play “Fallout 76″ (dependent on BETA schedule).

WHERE: Don Morris Room of Marshall University’s Memorial Student Center

WHEN: 7 to 11 p.m. Friday, Nov. 9

GET TIX: $20 or two for $30 and are on sale now at https://reclaimwv.com/

CONTACT: WVAutism@gmail.com or 304-412-1257 for more information.

OTHER MARSHALL ‘FALLOUT 76’ EVENTS: VaultMU Reclamation Day Celebration: Hosted by Marshall University Special Collections and Marshall University Libraries, this event runs 2 to 8 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 15 at Marshall University’s Special Collections at Morrow Library. Join Marshall University Libraries, Marshall University Digital Humanities, HerdCon and CIT in celebrating the release of Fallout 76. Play the game, enjoy Fallout & West Virginia themed snacks, take behind the scene tours of the Special Collections department, learn more about West Virginia and Digital Humanities.