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Someone has recreated the ruins of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Fallout 3, an adventure game that features the player trekking through the ruins of Washington D.C. after a world war resulted in a nuclear holocaust.
A modification like this is probably going to spark questions about whether it’s too soon to recreate this kind of disaster in a video game without offending anyone — Japan’s 9.0 earthquake, devastating tsunami and radioactive leaks are still open wounds. But professional and casual game developers have been using video games as a medium to pay homage to lives lost in disasters or as a tribute to individuals for about as long as they have been able to create custom modifications of popular games. The ruins are an addition — or mod — of the original game, which featured destroyed landmarks like the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial.
Games like Fallout 3 and BioWare’s Star Wars epic, Knights of the Old Republic, usually end up creating massive communities that create modified versions of the game because they are so open-ended. That means it’s easy to create new content for the games, which typically ends up generating more publicity for the game because many of the mods are major improvements over the original game or are very well written. Some of them are also controversial — but the same is true for just about any storytelling medium. However, modifications are typically restricted to PC versions of games because they are easier to develop, limiting their audience.
Reactions from Japanese gamers range anywhere from impressed to disgusted — which is probably the kind of divisive reaction you’d expect — according to gaming news site Kotaku. The modification is available at the Fallout 3 Nexus, an online host for modifications to Fallout 3.