The video game legend who predicted the future

Game News The video game legend who predicted the future

It’s an old popular legend that we unearth today: that of the number stations of Fallout 3, harbingers of some great tragedies that actually occurred.

Signal lost… Signal found…Nine-four-five-four-two-zero-two-zero-one-zero. Accident in the gulf, several dead. Oil slick apparently averted.

It’s one of the most popular English-speaking urban legends from the Fallout universe. For months, forumers translate Morse codes heard on a wasteland radio station. The result is prophetic messages announcing with disconcerting precision the death of a famous actor as well as an oil catastrophe. Some predictions are still waiting for their fateful day.

When we kill Three Dog

When Bethesda in 2004 extricated the operating rights to Fallout from the Interplay studio mired in financial worries, the fears of the players crystallized around the third part expected for almost ten years. Because if the successful creator of The Elder Scrolls is now familiar with role-playing games, it is an already cut gem that he takes back in hand. And he intends to redesign it in his own way, so as to respond favorably to a market absorbed by 3D requirements. Fallout 3 was released in the fall of 2008. The saga was transformed. Top-down view and turn-based combat are fading in favor of a first-person shooter. And since the developers of Rockville prefer to keep intact the vestiges of a very respected universe, the story begins thirty-six years after that of the last episode. The game opens with the melody of ” I don’t want to set the world on fire by Ink Spots, a song that Interplay had failed to afford. The world is vast, full of quests of surprising length. And it crosses on foot, forcing the player to painfully progress through desolate lands. The immersion is striking.

Fallout 3: “I don’t want to set the world on fire”

We are in the year 2277, 200 years after the world suffered the devastating strike of a Sino-American nuclear war. On the outskirts of Washington, a former survivor of fallout shelter 101 roams retro-futuristic rubble in search of his missing father. Some survivors encountered along the way seem straight out of the Mad Max movie. The protagonist evolves in arid lands to a soundtrack by Inon Zur. But he can also choose to listen to jazz, blues or swing music from the various radio stations that punctuate the post-apocalyptic daily life of Fallout travellers. The most popular of these is Galaxy News Radio. His repertoire is made up of twenty pre-war songs, broadcast on a loop.

Three Dog in his station

Sid Phillips, Billie Holiday or even Cole Porter pass the baton between a handful of short stories and survival advice told by a sunny and gravelly voice. This voice is that of Three Dog, owner of the radio station, fervent defender of freedom of expression, opponent of government representatives and generally a chic guy. It’s up to the player to tighten his grip, or to stick a bullet in his head. An idea that will only come to those whose bad karma encourages it. And once this good Three Dog is declared dead, it is a certain Margaret who replaces him, a much more lazy and negligent collaborator. And you’re stuck with that lazy voice whose face you’ll never see. But in other situations, a handful of players report that Galaxy News Radio becomes a number station with very disturbing warning messages.

“We will miss you”

Number stations, by definition, generally broadcast sequences of coded letters or numbers. Often the subject of rumors and obscure legends, it is said that they were used as early as the First World War to disseminate encrypted indications to spies. Likewise during the Cold War, the golden age of espionage and the collective fear that a bomb would pulverize entire territories. If you are interested in the fantastic story of these stations, it is told in an Arte documentary by Philippe Baudouin, called “En route pour ma station d’enseignement”. Fallout telling a world plagued by nuclear war, the presence of these number stations is not trivial. But the steps to take to find them remain rather nebulous. Most of the testimonies affirm that it is necessary to have first razed the entirety of Raven Rock, the main base of the political organization of the Enclave. The area sits on mountainous land, high enough to pick up strange signals. Galaxy News Radio therefore lets out a voice. Many people recognize that of Three Dog, which would have lost its panache of yesteryear. The man drops a few numbers in a ghostly tone, followed by Morse codes which then die out to the melody ofI Don’t Want to Set the World on Fire. From Reddit, the Fallout wiki, or even the Minecraft forums, curious people are interested in number stations. “Wait. What ? A morse code that predicts the future?Jasper exclaims.Yes the numbers it lists are dates and the morse code is text that says something“, replies Mr Hacker333. Even the English-speaking fact-checking site, Snopes, brings together the threads of discussion on the subject, in an article now archived.

Morse code is not a foreign language to the universe of Fallout 3 which already uses it to guide some pilgrims to fallout shelters. But these are different. Players who are passionate about the phenomenon share translated messages on the forums that seem mostly anecdotal: “I washed the car today, maybe I’ll have Chinese for dinner”, “Have you watched my youtube video?”. Others, on the other hand, are more worrying: “I can’t believe they really did. There isn’t much time left. The noise. I can’t stand this noise anymore. I have a gun in the attic”. But those which follow take a turn all the more singular, endorsing the title of prophecy. “The Queen died today. The world is in mourning because on a day like this we are all British”. The date given is March 19, 2014. Presumably, the Queen of England is still alive. But the following prediction sounds the alarm:

One-two-zero-five-five-two-eight-two-zero-one-zero”. What are you talking about? We will miss you.

The date that accompanies the message is that of the death of actor Gary Coleman, who popularized the question “Whoa’choo talkin’ ’bout?”. An event that occurred long after the game was released. And then here is another one:

Nine-four-five-four-two-zero-two-zero-one-zero. Accident in the gulf, several dead. Oil slick apparently averted.

A time and date are given: 9:45 a.m. on April 20, 2010; almost the exact moment an explosion occurred on an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico. Upon reading this discovery, many went in search of the precious morse codes as the eternal hunters of Big Foot in GTA would have done. But the real evidence remains untraceable and the original topic that started the trail has disappeared. Gamesradar sheds light on the hunt in 2010: “Is this the most elaborate hoax of all time?“, still keeping some hopes on the veracity of the rumors.

In an email to Gamesradar article editor Jimmy Towell, Bethesda would eventually respond: “Sounds like a cool theory, but it’s not true“. Finally, it will be understood that the legend of the number stations will have managed to come to life only from a fiction copied and scattered over a handful of discussion threads, fueling the curiosity of dozens of dreamers (The original text is now displayed in the myths section of the Fallout Wiki). When in doubt, they still have one more prediction to check: “I really can’t believe Britney actually won the Oscar! February 27, 2023 at 9:33 PM“. Let’s wait and see what will really happen to the popstar who still won the prize for the worst actress at the Golden Raspberry Awards in 2003.

Sources: Fallout Fandom / gamesradar / Fallout Myths Wiki

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The video game legend who predicted the future