Wired: Fallout 3 is set in post-nuclear Washington, D.C. The violent video game has won critical acclaim for its bleak atmospherics. It is not supposed to make you laugh.
Then came the YouTube game clips: a "Fallout 3 Baby," wandering through the game's apocalyptic landscape in nappies, bashing in mutants' heads with its tiny fists, disabling a nuclear bomb, cooing "goo-goo" and dealing death with a Colt .45.
"My response was, 'Oops,'" says game director Todd Howard. "But that's pretty funny."
Game designers are increasingly creating wide-open worlds with little to limit the action of the characters. And players are meeting them halfway, hoping to subvert or escape planned narrative lines, however loose, by any means necessary.