Feeling and working in digital Appalachia: Two months playing Fallout 76 fosters a sense of place in West Virginia

Nicholas Bowman, Jaime Banks, Christine Rittenour

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review

Abstract

This poster reports analysis of data from a longitudinal study of 369 players of the video game Fallout 76, focusing on their "sense of place" experiences (the perception of meaning associated with a site or location) over two months of gameplay. Fallout 76 is unique in that the video game takes places entirely within a retrofuturistic version of West Virginia (following nuclear war). To this point, both the game's pre-release marketing and in-game experiences draw extensively on West Virginia geography and lore to immerse the player in Appalachia (notably breaking from common pejorative portrayals of the region). Regression modeling showed that players who felt emotionally engaged in the game and who felt less physical exertion were most likely to feel a sense of place for West Virginia, even controlling for their real-world experience in the state (such as being a native). Our data shows promise for the use of interactive media such as video games to encourage a connectedness with a
Original languageEnglish
StatePublished - 2019

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