Why Some People Still Care About Killing Children In Fallout 4

Why Some People Still Care About Killing Children In Fallout 4

Fallout 3’s “Killable Children” mod was released in 2008, and since then, it’s been downloaded over 150,000 times by PC players. It’s probably no surprise this relatively popular type of mod made a comeback with Fallout 4, too, right?

OK, maybe this seems weird to some of y’all. But, this type of mod has a very specific history within a segment of the Fallout fandom. Back when Fallout 3 was released, there was some drama surrounding children in that game. Older Fallout games let players murder kids if they so pleased, and there was even an associated negative reputation that players could earn for doing so. Fallout 3 left that “feature” out of the game, though, and this was a move by Bethesda that some hardcore players really disliked.

Why would anyone want to kill kids in the first place, though? There are a few things going on here, judging from the comments people have left on the “Killable Children” mod page for Fallout 4. There are players that consider killing children a part of Fallout tradition. Other players like this mod on principle, because it represents a political ideology. Perhaps they have no intention of using it, really, but they still want it to exist because they see it as a blow against so-called politically correct culture. Then you’ve got players who see invincible children as a nonsensical feature in certain contexts the game itself sets up. Typically, these players think invincible children is ‘immersion breaking.’ You’ve also got players who don’t think the mod goes far enough. And finally, there are players who just…dislike certain characters, or intend on playing Fallout 4 as a serial killer of sorts.

Here’s some of what people have said about this mod. Bolded emphasis mine.

OH yes !!! thanks you so much for this mod, I can’t wait for someone making an “alternative start” to this garbage so I can role play like in a real Fallout game, remember the good old times when you can have and sell slaves and blow up entire towns or just be whatever you want? …the truly form of the wasteland and not this crappy ” Disney” version. I can’t wait for the new Creation Kit !

I HATE this politically-correctness limitation of “no killing children on-screen”

3 days and yet this mod could not be more needed

Thank you for this. During the “Battle for Bunker Hill” quest, one of the children NPCs named ‘Meg’ would not die from the Synths (I sided with the Institute). So at the end of the battle, Meg was cowering in a shack while the Synths unloaded thousands of rounds of plasma, laser and machine gun ammo that just went right through her…

Nice mod, will there be a version with full gore?

Fallout is a game designed with a ton of story, character development, and a lot of small details all made to draw the player into the world. Fallout is also set in a post apocalyptic world where you have rampant murder and people stealing babies from their mothers before executing said mother. It is a world where most people, whether by choice or to survive, have thrown out their cares for their fellow man. That is the setting. That is the story we want to see when we delve into Fallout. If you look at how terrible the world is today, would not a post apocalyptic one have people committing more heinous actions? You would see children shooting people, and people shooting back. Abuse of all kinds would be present, sexual or otherwise. An immersive setting is created both by what is in it and what ISN’T in it. How immersion breaking is it when I see (and this actually happened in my FO4) 3 deathclaws surrounding a kid hitting him while he flees, and give absolutely no shits? The kid is apparently a god anyway. Terrible. Moments like that should be gutwrenching, seeing something like a kid torn to shreds by deathclaws, a reminder of how harsh the wasteland would actually be. It could be a moment that immerses the player further, but instead does the absolute opposite. And hey, some people want to play the mass murderer in their video game. Who are we to judge? In such cases, killing an entire town’s grown ups and being forced to leave the children alive makes absolutely no sense either.

Obviously, not everyone is in favour of a mod like this. While most people posting at Nexus like the idea of the mod, at least a couple of people are pushing back and debating its existence in the comments:

ModofDuty: Why can’t nude and killable mods just stay for adult men and women. Seriously what do you get out of killing a child in a video game? I can’t wrap my head around it as a parent and it seems so psychopathic.

I admire modders’ skills and dedication but this takes it too far.

gamingdevil80: None of the kids are really annoying enough in this game to kill like FO3 aka little lamplight

As a veteran Fallout player, I can’t say I miss having the ability to kill kids. Fallout’s believability as a world never hinged on killable children for me; Fallout doesn’t stop being Fallout based on whether or not I can kill children. Besides, it was pretty different back then, too! In Fallout 2, for example, kids could totally steal your precious gear, thus leaving your character totally fucked. In that context, I can understand why someone might feel murderous rage at a video game kid, especially when said children weren’t rendered realistically, as they are now. Stuff like gear stealing doesn’t happen in the modern Fallout games, though. Kids mostly exist as window dressing, or for quests.

I sympathize with the idea that invincible characters can make the game feel weird in certain contexts, too. At this point, though, I’ve filed that away as just a video-game-arse thing, you know? My companions are also invincible and can never die in combat, and that invincibility doesn’t bother me at all. It’s not something that needs “fixing” in my mind. I also just don’t play as psychotic characters who like murdering people, adults or otherwise. The people who die in my games usually deserve it in some way. I respect that some people might play the game totally differently than I do, and I wouldn’t judge anyone for that. It’s just, personally, I can’t get particularly worked up over the inability to kill children in Fallout. I’ve got a ton of gripes with the game, which I outlined in my review, but killable children is not one of them. That’s just me, though.

At the moment, Fallout 4’s “Killable Children” mod has been downloaded over 11,000 times. It’s not a particularly large part of the Fallout player base, especially in light of the millions the game has sold. Regardless, because they have chosen to download and install this mod, it means that one of the most controversial features of the Fallout universe continues to live on in some way.


  • Only 150,000 downloads? That seems pretty low for a mod that got so much attention and has been out for years.

  • Which sick bastard that actually want to massacre children too? The only one that pissed me off was the guards that actually say in my face something along “don’t cause any trouble or he will wreck me up”. I was like you will wreck me up? Quick Save fat boy the hell out of him and quick load and continue with the game.

    • Most of the issues isnt with the character not being able to kill kids but with major battles never ending because there is an immortal running in circles

  • I think if kids are in an open world killing game they should probably be killable, with appropriate negative consequences. But I think I like the way GTA handles it – kids just don’t exist so it’s never an issue.

    • I take it this is a reference to Bioshock? Gotta harvest them little sisters up, get that Adam! YUM YUM!

        • Oh, I thought you were being clever – Bioshock, where an important mechanic and moral quandary is whether or not to kill children, and it’s set under the sea!

        • So someone should kill themselves through asphyxiation for killing video game children? For taking a bunch of rendered pixels and voice acting and (dated, poor) AI, and abstractly creating a “kill” state of that bunch of computer numbers? Whatever the true moral ground of what that entails, you’re probably vastly overreacting. They may be killing IMAGINARY children, but you want to kill REAL people because of it. You high?

  • Why is it worse to kill children than any other innocent civilians? Fallout 2 nailed it where when children died you gained no XP, no monetary or item reward and got a permanent “perk” called “child killer” that caused people to instantly dislike you.

    Invincible children is stupid. Children are vulnerability and often a casualty of war and yes – its a horrible trajedy when it happens. All the more reason it should be in the game. Adults should become distraught when their kid is taken into slavery and is accidentally killed when the protagonist attempts a rescue. Should be there to make the player more cautious with explosives.

    • Why is it worse to kill children than any other innocent civilians?

      Well it’s to do with the fact that children are defenseless compared to an adult, they have a lot more life to live and so it’s a greater tragedy. It’s also connected to the idea that a parent should never have to bury a child. And Adults have already made their choices that’s why it’s “easy” to kill a raider, a child is generally still malleable and never really considered evil (this is also why horror movies with evil children works so well). That’s why in general people react more strongly to children being murdered/killed then adults.

      However I agree that it does break the game making them invincible, would have been much better if they just made it a negative thing to do like you suggested.

      • Agree with everything you have said, was more thinking innocent characters rather than raiders. Defenseless shopkeepers, elderly people on a farm, that sort of thing. You’re still free to murder these people and steal everything they ever had with little consequence.

        As a parent myself, its pretty clear that children need a lot more protection than adults, which was why it felt so wrong and out of place that the kids in Fallout 3 were invincible. Would have preferred there were no children in the game at all.

      • Well it’s to do with the fact that children are defenseless compared to an adult I understand the concept of where your coming from (1st world) but in our world there are child armies and they are pretty far from defenseless. It’s horrible but this is the reality we live in. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Military_use_of_children for more information. I know many would like to think that children are defenseless when compared to an adult and in our culture that is certainly the case but in other parts of the world children are thrust into these situations daily its pretty damn sad.

    • This. It’s not that people download this because they want to massacre children, it’s that they download it because it’s retarded for a fat man nuke to drop on a town, or super mutants to invade a town, and kill everyone but somehow have bulletproof little kids still running around. It’s comical.

      I don’t see any real reason why they should be permanently invincible. Yes, there might be sick bastards out there who absolutely love killing virtual kids whenever they see one (hell, they might be 99% of the people downloading the mod, I don’t care, that’s not why I’m arguing for the mod). but that’s not the reason the mod should exist. I don’t see why this was okay in Deus Ex and it’s not anymore.

      Also, if you’re a parent who can’t stand the sight of seeing virtual kids die then okay, that’s fine. But I don’t see why the game should cater to you. Also, god forbid a game actually gives you some sort of emotional reaction to a death as opposed to you just going “hahah they’re just virtual people, who cares! look at that head explode!”.

    • Does this mod do something like this though? The mod should also make it so other NPCs hate you if you actually kill any kids.

  • why are people opposed to this mods existence? if you dont want to kill kids don’t install the mod, if you want to be able to then install the mod. It never made much sense to me why this is an issue in the first place, the developers could just have a check box in the settings for enabling/disabling child deaths.

    • This is Kotaku, where everyone has to outdo each other with how much of a “nice guy” they are.

      • Hahaha, I think it has more to do with actually having a discussion about the merits. It’s sick to kill children, even in a game, that being said it’s also not very sensible to having invincible kids running around. We have just been debating what the happy middle is. The people who are against it I believe are more just against the idea of a mod to kill kids rather then a mod that allows kids to die.

          • I didn’t mean it was worse, just that people react to it more strongly. This quote is from my reply above.

            Well it’s to do with the fact that children are defenseless compared to an adult, they have a lot more life to live and so it’s a greater tragedy. It’s also connected to the idea that a parent should never have to bury a child. And Adults have already made their choices that’s why it’s “easy” to kill a raider, a child is generally still malleable and never really considered evil (this is also why horror movies with evil children works so well). That’s why in general people react more strongly to children being murdered/killed then adults.

            However I agree that it does break the game making them invincible, would have been much better if they just made it a negative thing to do like you suggested.

  • I’ve never intentionally killed a child in a Fallout game, and I’ve always reloaded on the occasions that they got caught in the crossfire, but I appreciate its existence.

    For me, the Fallout games are about choice and consequence. I choose to be good, so I choose not to kill the children of the Wasteland. If you take away the choice, even though it’s one I’d never make, then you take away my ability to role play and define my character.

    You can’t be truly heroic if you’ve never been presented the option of being truly villainous.

    • Yet Fallout 3 seemed to be the first to truly allow you to be a villain in the main quest. 3 allowed you to poison the water and NV allowed you to be it’s dictator. 1 and 2 allowed you to do bad things but finishing the game meant you had to be the hero.
      Plus no one complains about not being able to kill the annoying people in sanctuary.

      • I actually haven’t played any of the games past 2. FPS doesn’t do it for me. So I don’t really know any of the specifics of the recent games.

        You’re right that you are a hero in a sense just by finishing the game, although it’s debatable that one good deed can really make you a “hero”. There are purely selfish reasons for wanting to complete the games, too. You wouldn’t want to live in a world where the Master or the Enclave had enslaved you.

        The whole reason for play is to enable us to encounter a wider variety of scenarios than we can in our day-to-day lives, make choices, and explore consequences. It helps us develop into better people.

        I’m not arguing for a Postal-style child-killing “simulator”, but I will defend the existence of extremely negative optional content that carries appropriate consequences.

  • I’m actually kinda grateful that they’ve made companions and settlers unkillable by default, for the sake of convenience (because I just know I’d be reloading saves all the damn time).

    It DOES take some of the fear and immersion away, and you can feel it happening in that moment that you realize your downed settler isn’t actually going to die and fuck up your supply route – the moment you realize you can shrug and walk away and nothing will be worse off.
    But I’m still glad they’re immortal. That immersion was a price I’m willing to pay.

    • You don’t get any particular urges when you are walking around sanctuary and you hear “Oh, let me just stop everything I’m doing to talk to you… I WAS BEING SARCASTIC. LEAVE ME ALONE.”?

      Shortly after hearing that was when I found my first immortal settler.

      • Hahah. Yeah, I’ve just assigned her to a scavenging station way the hell on the other side of town.

      • That’s actually part of a conversation she has with her husband. From memory Jun is asking her to go for a walk together and she says that in response to him. She later softens a little and promises to go for a walk with him later once she’s done with her work.

        I don’t know if maybe there’s a bug where she says that independently, because a lot of people seem to think she’s talking to the player, but I’ve only ever heard it as part of that conversation.

        • No, she says it independently a lot. The Jun conversation runs a little differently when I’ve been eavesdropping, without that specific insult.

  • Are you really a Fallout Vet? I doubt it if you consider that companions weren’t even invincible until fallout 4!!!

    I’m more of letting settlers die instead of companions, or having kids dissappear when combat starts instead of being invulnerable.

    • Companions were invincible in New Vegas though. The step from NV to F4 is much smaller than the step from F3 to F4 if you look at the design changes/differences.

      • They weren’t invincible on hardcore mode and there are even endings talking about how they died in the Wastleland.

        • “Hardcore mode” ok…so not invincible on a higher difficulty setting doesn’t mean they’re not invincible. Most people wouldn’t even bother with hardcore.

          As for the narrative at the end…well that’s just narrative, for all intents and purposes while you’re playing the game they’re invincible.

  • In the end, its not real, so who really cares. Just because someone does something in a game, does not mean they’re going to do it in real life

  • I remember really wanting to kill the shop advert kid in Fallout New Vegas…would have killed an adult character who spouted the same crud every time I walked past too.

    I think the main issue here is Bethesda have been lazy in not wanting people to kill children so they just made them invincible. They could design around it – you wipe out the adults in a town, in the process the children all run off into caves, hidey holes etc and basically just despawn. You didn’t kill them but for all intents and purposes they’re gone. Could do something similar for when they’re attacked by deathclaws or raiders/synths.

    That would restore some of the immersion breaking issues and make the world seem a little more realistic again….as realistic as it gets anyway.

  • Yeah, it kinda seems that if this was in the game (whether it had a negative perk or not) no one would really care. But because someone went to the effort of modding it in, there’s a backlash because “people want to kill kids”, when all they really want is a more realistic sim. I highly doubt anyone who installs this mod installs only this one; for most people it will be one part in a bunch of mods to increase the overall believability immersive-ness of the world, and for that reason I can’t be upset that it exists.

  • I play fallout as the every day good guy who uses people for quests. Once they have outlived their use then I will try to steal everything they have and if they try and stop me then bad things may happen. I remember playing fallout 3 and being peeved I couldn’t get access to the kids gear mainly because I’m a hoarding/stealing machine. I was angry I couldn’t kill them for about 5 minutes until I realised I wasn’t supposed to have their stuff and got over it. They were perhaps the only survivors in my fallout playthrough. I guess someone has to rebuild

  • Yeah I’m one of those who downloaded it on principle, 100 hours in I still haven’t gone out of my way to kill a kid, but the notion of invincible children is just stupid. If the narrative called for it, or they were collateral damage in a fight, then so be it, it doesn’t make you a psycho any more than killing a full-grown human being does, it’s about the context of the actions. Still won’t stop some White-Knights from totally going ballistic over it though.

  • I think games kind of change the rules for reality, people don’t want these things to represent reality, they want them to be a sandbox for all the things that aren’t in reality. To me, the only way you could even spend more than a few seconds thinking about this would be if you are woefully ignorant and unempathetic. All of the questioning and judgement coming from opposition are full of rhetoric, questioning why someone would want to do something so awful.

    But they aren’t, are they? You’ve just created a psychological criteria that paints your arbitrary perspective as more informed and conscious when we have no evidence or reasoning given beyond the perspective of an individual whom finds pride in judging and not empathising. I’m not going to kill kids in my game because like Patricia, it does nothing for me. The same goes for GTA, if I couldn’t kill civilians, I’d probably never want to. As it stands, though, I’ll get out of a car kill the dude who just rear-ended me than have to deal with the cops, jail, fines and an unachieved goal. This is because I was able to, and I was curious what would happen – completely conscious of the simulated nature of the engagement.

    When I was playing Skyrim for the first time, I had it on 360. I had fun but never actually finished the main quest. When I finished building my PC, Skyrim was my most-played game. After finishing all the quests I’d cared for, I started downloading mods. I’m a huge Randy Savage fan, so I thought it would be cool if he were the dragons. Thus, I made him the dragons. What is my justification for this? I don’t really have one, I was just curious. This highlights a greater issue within the gaming community where we almost need to be coddled and reassured that all of the necessary considerations have been made to ensure your experience and the way you perceive it is the one and only subjectively correct perspective. It only required half a brain to observe how the exact definition of the word “insecure” is prevalent in the language of many today.

    A lot of people see this story and immediately defend their habits or immediately distance themselves from the idea. Why did we used to explore ideas so we could consider the answer for ourselves? Today we simply ask people for a justification (this is ridiculous, we have new articles every day about the “justification” of a plot point in relation to arbitrary perspectives, which undermines the creative work itself) as if we are educated enough to judge its application before we’ve even explored it or been challenged by it? We can’t all be educated enough to accurately judge the moral implications of an idea and its affect on a mind you are ASSUMING is uneducated and lacks perspective. To me, the level of consideration able to be derived from the words of writers and in discourse today is generally quite low, yet the level of certainty we reach is much stronger and happens even quicker than it did before. Why, if we are asking less questions, accepting less answers, taking more as inherent truth without question are we attaching moral implications that can only be derived from a singular perspective? You can cry about the futility and efficacy of this, you can ask all the rhetorical questions you want but it doesn’t change the fact that an ignorant, uninformed judgement is anything more than that.

    How did we all reach such a level of certainty in our perception of the experiences of others by considering less? I simply resign myself to not knowing how someone else perceives creative work – isn’t any speculation prejudicial? The vast majority assumes a negative impact for others when they themselves don’t enjoy something – which is obviously not something that flies. So why does this tone of judgement arbitrarily follow pretend stories around? How much of us have been turned psychopathic or have become a menace to children because of what we played? So then how likely is it for others? Why must there be arbitrary concern attached to something when the negative aspect is inherently dubious? Does this imply responsibility to you? Because it is anything but three-dimensional or holistic – which are generally considered to be the best way to know things. Or you could just keep defending the right to judge without reason and resign yourself to blissful ignorance.

  • because freedom, choice and consequence are staple in Bethesda games.
    We play games to escape relaity and do things we often can’t in real life.
    I don’t understand how those who condemn these types of mods feel it’s ok to murder everything else in the world but when it comes to ‘kids’, which aren’t even fucking real human beings they get in a SJW hissy fit.
    You don’t like it, don’t fucking use the mod. Let others do as they please.
    that is all.

  • In fallout 2, I killed a kid for pickpocketing me. Everyone called me a child killer after that, but if they only knew the real story about how the child was going to grow up to become Hitler 2.0… Oh, and he also pickpocketed me, little asshole…

  • Does this mod add any consequences to the action of murdering children? The mod needs to be more than “flip switch – cool, I can kill kids now” It needs to be well thought out and introduce new rules to the game that make these actions a thoughtful choice, not a kill count to add the game as a whole.

  • I for one wouldn’t mind if games like gta had kill-able children, it would make the world have more depth and perhaps it would elicit a pang of regret for running into a crowd of people instead of the usual gleeful giggle. i mean in fallout a raider killing a child is far more poignant then killing an adult. it doesn’t make much sense when you think about it that kill swaths of adults and its fine but have kill-able children and suddenly your promoting child murder

  • Hmm I wonder if that mod will make it onto consoles?

    The sad aspect is there are so many real world examples of children being harmed that if you put it into a game for whatever reason it will become an easy scapegoat for the media’s many reactionaries

    Better to leave stuff like this out, you can be realistic without being disturbing

  • Don’t think too much about children or you’ll be called a pervert especially if you’re a male.

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