Brothers in Arms
On the surface, it’s easy to look at the goofy animations and stilted dialog of Fallout 4 and declare, “there’s nothing human here.” The title’s narrative paints time, loss, and what it means to be human with the broad, impersonal strokes characteristic of Bethesda storytelling, and after a few hours chugging through the story and listening to Preston Garvey prattle on about the dangers of androids, I began to wonder if the developers of the game might be synthetic humans themselves. Then came the story I’m about to tell you, and it was my tear circuits which began malfunctioning.
The story starts two months ago on the 27th of June, 2016 when Andy Stromer of Riverside California, Reddit user NoohjXLVII, posted a message describing how Fallout 4 helped him process the loss of his father. In the original post, Andy said, “My dad passed away last year (age 56)… I didn’t take it well. When automatron came out, I made a bipedal sentry bot with hammer saws and named it after my father, so in a way, I was traveling the wasteland with my father. (He had the body type of a sentry bot… And liked to do wood working as a hobby hence be hammer saws).. The name of the bot was GR-36, as his name was Greg.”
Andy thanks Bethesda in his post for providing a distraction in this difficult time in his life, but that’s not all. In the same post, Andy revealed his younger brother Evan Stromer, 24, was also in critical condition at the hospital due to diabetes complications.
Andy said, “They don’t think he’ll make it. diabetes related stuff. He and I both loved the fallout franchise, always theorizing what we’d do if the events of fallout occurred in real life. He always wanted to be a super mutant and I wanted to be a ghoul, so we could travel the world together forever. (Though I’m not sure if super mutants have an unlimited life span) but I digress. With contraptions I made a really cool tower that I wanted to show him… I just finished it today when I got the call that he was in the ICU…”
Evan survived the night in the intensive care unit, but in the morning he flatlined. Andy concludes his post, “It’s going to suck wandering this real world without my little brother. But at least he got to meet my son. Ad Victoriam little Brother. I’ll see you in the wasteland.”
Reunited in the Wasteland
Fallout 4 dev Bethesda saw Andy’s Reddit post, and some time in the last two months and they sent him a care package. But that’s not all they did. Andy posted yesterday to Reddit detailing his discovery: Evan Stromer has been immortalized as a character in the most recent Fallout 4 expansion, Nuka World.
Evan is kind, friendly, and freely offers the player a recipe for “Nuka Cola: Love.” He tells the player that he’s been out in the wasteland for years now, and that he loves to relax and enjoy the view. Andy says the character doesn’t look exactly like his brother, but “they captured his essence pretty decently.” As far as other players go, Andy says “don’t feel guilty about taking his stuff! He insists you take it and in real life he would give you the shirt off of his back to help those in need.”
Y’know, there’s a troubling tendency outside the gaming community to view the hobby as a vague, impersonal activity. People like to see gaming as a time-waster for nerds who can’t socialize. Sure,there’s probably more than a little truth to what I just wrote, but there’s no denying at least one human bond present in all video games: the connection between the developer and the gamer. From the bottom of our hearts, thank you Bethesda.
For More Fallout 4 reading, please consider my Fully Modded Survivor mod guide.
To view the tower Andy made with the Fallout 4 crafting system in dedication to his brother, go here.
Here is the first post from two months ago:
Here is the second post from yesterday: