Digital Project Update: Fallout 4 Boston HistoryPin Tour!

Michael Toy
Fallout 4 Historypins Location List:
1. Concord Region
a. Vault 111
b. Sanctuary
c. Concord & Freedom Museum
d. Lexington
2. Westover Region
a. Graygarden
b. Fort Hagen
3. Natick Region
a. Crater of Atom
b. The Natick Region
4. Cambridge Region
a. Fraternal Outpost 115 (Brotherhood)
b. CIT Ruins
c. Bunker Hill
d. U.S.S. Constitution
5. Boston Region
a. Boston Public Library
b. The Old North Church
c. Vault-Tec Regional HQ
d. Swan’s Pond
6. South Boston Region
a. Diamond City
b. The Castle (Fort Independence)
c. Milton General Hospital
d. Gunner’s Plaza (Galaxy News Network HQ)
7. Quincy Region
a. Quincy Ruins
b. Spectacle Island
8. Boston Airport Region
a. Boston Airport
b. Libertalia
c. Croup Manor
9. Medford Region
a. Museum of Witchcraft (Salem Witchcraft Museum)
b. Salem

The goal of the Fallout 4 Boston HistoryPin tour is to integrate well-known areas of present day, real life Boston with the post-apocalyptic version of Boston presented in the smash-hit 2015 game Fallout 4. While the Fallout series has a history of choosing real life locations as the basis for their games (going all the way back to the original Californian setting of the original), technology and processing power have always been limiting factors in designing a map suitably large enough to accurately reproduce a real life location, and it is no surprise that this most recent iteration is the most accurate reproduction of a real location to date. That said, Fallout 4’s Commonwealth and the real-life city of Boston share far less than a 1:1 ratio; in fact, most of Fallout’s Boston exists on a 1:3 scale with its real counterpart. This ratio was the most manageable for reproducing much of Boston, though the ratio can get much smaller as one approaches the bustling urban downtown area, which in real life is many magnitudes denser than its post-apocalyptic reproduction.

Many of the locations selected for this tour are based on real-life equivalents or almost-equivalents: the CIT building, for instance, is located roughly where Boston’s MIT sits, and the CIT’s lore closely follows that of MIT until the present day. Similarly, The Castle is based on the real-life location of historic Fort Independence, and Fort Hagen sits roughly in the same area as the Westover Airforce Base in western Massachusetts. While sometimes Fallout creates its own names, frequently in-game locations are homages to their real counterparts and share similar, if not identical locations and lore. The Old North Church, for instance, exists both in-game and in real life as the location of Paul Revere’s historic midnight ride, though in Fallout 4 the Old North Church has since been acquired by the rebellious and nobly-minded Raildroad (an homage to the more figurative Underground Railroad); similarly, Bunker Hill is a famous stop along Boston’s Freedom Trail both in-game and in real life and houses many of the city’s famous shops and landmarks, though of course Fallout 4’s Bunker Hill is dominated by armed merchants who have set up an open-air bazaar on the hill. Though the majority of locations are based on or are related to real-life equivalents, some of the game’s locations are wholly the design of the Fallout programming team. One notable example of this is the curious location of the historic U.S.S. Constitution: though based on a real-life equivalent, the U.S.S. Constitution sits not in Boston Harbor but instead sits lodged in the side of a skyscraper after a failed launch by a reprogrammed tour guide robot who hoped to sail the ship out of harbor and find aid for the city. Ranging from the fortified bunker of Vault 111 to the underground CIT Institute laboratory to the raider-infested wreckage of a fictional ship, the U.S.S. Libertalia off the Boston coast, some of the most memorable sites in Fallout 4 are entirely fictional creations.

Owing to a limited timeframe and an audience with a short attention-span, this tour is designed to have 27 unique locations that spread across the map of Boston and includes many historic locations with real-life equivalents in-game. Aimed at children aged 9-15, the Fallout 4 Boston HistoryPin tour aims to endow the historic city of Boston with something that speaks to the kids’ true interests by relating the historic aspects of the city to something with which they’re relatively familiar and relatively interested. As many schools in the northeastern U.S. at one point or another take their middle schoolers on a school trip to historic Boston, the Fallout 4 Boston tour would help make such a fieldtrip as exciting, educational, and simultaneously relatable to the visiting children as possible. While touring the many historic sites to be found in Boston, children would be able to follow along in real time with the tour to see the approximate locations of in-game sites, towns, and artifact with which they are familiar, simultaneously reinforcing both the historical difference and the historical similarities between Fallout 4’s fictional Boston and that of the real city.

One Reply to “Digital Project Update: Fallout 4 Boston HistoryPin Tour!”

  1. It’s neat to see how this lays out over a map in HistoryPin. It’s a really creative idea to integrate the imagined places of Fallout 4 into the places they relate to in the physical world. Overall I think it’s coming together nicely. I think the main thing to try and zero in on as you work through the rest of it is digging into analysis through this that makes it all a bit more history-ish. I’ve got a few notes on that point below. There are a lot of ways you could do this but the main suggestion I would offer is to include commentary about how the game is using the history of places (or ignoring that history) as part of the story the game tells.

    I’m still not completely seeing the “history” part of the project. I’m feeling like if you went through and just tried to add a paragraph to each of your pins to explain how the game uses the history of the particular place that would go along way. For example, for Lexington, tell the reader a bit about some of the history of the place and how it’s history is used.

    I really enjoyed your write up about Concord. It’s a great picture too. That left me wondering how you read the game developer’s use of the “Minutemen” there. Is it any kind of comment on history? Or, given that the Minutemen is a trope that get’s reused and is even currently used to name a range of contemporary reactionary groups is that kind of thing at play here? It’s likely worth teasing out the historical allusion to “Grey Gardens” which it looks like is identified and discussed a bit in the Fallout Wikia

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