I’m a gamer. One of my favourite game series is Fallout, a post-apocalyptic roleplaying game (RPG) setting where you play a wandering survivor of the American Wasteland. Given the prospect of nuclear Armageddon was part of the very background noise of my childhood, I guess there was some acclimatisation to the idea through vicarious fiction – even if it was unlikely anyone in Inverclyde would live long enough to become Ghouls, and it’s certainly not probable we have any Vaults hidden under the Greenock Cut.
Fallout, like many such RPGs settings, excels at storytelling through non-linear narrative: often the best stories to be found are not part of the main plot, and indeed could be missed entirely if you don’t explore. The Fallout universe is based around a retro-futurist world which branched off from ours sometime after the Second World War, where the Soviet Union persisted into the 21st Century, the Cold War went hot in 2077, and Judgement Day brought civilisation as we knew it to an end. The US government of the time saw the writing on the wall, and built in secret over a hundred Vaults throughout America – great underground installations which ostensibly sought to shelter survivors and form the basis of a resurgent civilisation. Ostensibly, because shadowy corporation-run governments being shadowy corporation-run governments, they ended up being rather more sinister than that.
Each Vault was based around a sociological experiment, to see how humanity would adapt and survive in different organisations and situations. Vault 13 was designed to remain sealed for 200 years, to study the effects of long-term isolation over several generations; Vault 21 was populated by compulsive gamblers, and studied the effects of a gambling-based society; Vault 92 was populated by world-renowned musicians who were subjected to white noise subliminal posthypnotic suggestions.
Fallout: New Vegas’ Vault 11 had a particularly Milgramian experiment at the centre of its society. The inhabitants of Vault 11 were presented with a horrifying dilemma: that each year, they must select one of their number to be killed. If they refused, everyone in the Vault would be killed.* Only one person, the Overseer, knew about the experiment before the Vault was sealed: upon realisation, the residents selected the Overseer himself as the first sacrifice. Ever since, a new Overseer would be selected each year – with the knowledge that the Overseer would also be the Sacrifice.
So for decades, elections for Overseer were run where absolutely nobody wanted the job. Campaign posters urging the inhabitants to vote for someone else were plastered all over the bulkheads. “DON’T VOTE GLOVER – HIS FAMILY NEEDS HIM!” “HALEY IS A KNOWN ADULTERER & COMMUNIST SYMPATHIZER – ELECT HALEY FOR OVERSEER” “RUMORS ABOUT HALEY ARE BASELESS – VOTE STONE FOR OVERSEER”
It seems preposterous satire. What sort of surreal, doubleplus duckspeak political parties would release campaign material that concentrated almost entirely on the opposition?
What’s most amazing – if not surprising in the slightest – is how similarly the thought processes behind New Labour and the Conservatives’ publicity folk are. The two New Labour images on the left use predominantly blue writing – which, you’d think, would subliminally hint to the reader that these were official Conservative Party releases. And in the first Conservative leaflet, red is the colour – suggesting it is a New Labour pamphlet; and the second is black and yellow – the SNP’s colours. So what we have are two parties which use the colours of the opposition parties, managing to look like they’re actually trying to get people to vote for the other party!
Twilight Zone. Only explanation.
EDIT: Hey, I found another one, this time on Inverclyde’s own MP’s timeline!
It’s funny because they took the SNP leaflet and put David Cameron & Alex Salmond on it, like how they took the colour blue and made the ones above look like Tory leaflets. Seriously, the New Labour and Conservative leaflets look like they were made by the same team. It’s almost as if (yes, yes, we all get it Al)
*In truth, the real experiment was to see whether the inhabitants would obey or not: if they refused, no-one would be killed, and they would be free to leave the Vault should they wished, as well as being rewarded with a slideshow congratulating them as “shining examples to humanity.” By the time the inhabitants chose to refuse to play the game – two hundred years after the Vault was sealed – there were only five people left who discovered the truth of the experiment. They committed suicide shortly after.