Investigative Reporter Jonathan Humbert and Photojournalist Alex Brauer
I-Team: Life in Post-Apocalyptic Las Vegas
LAS VEGAS -- The bombs have dropped, the U.S. government has fallen apart and Las Vegas has devolved into a post-apocalyptic battleground. It's the setting for a new video game called Fallout: New Vegas coming out this fall, but how could we live in that world?
Imagine Las Vegas with little access to power, questionable water quality and mutant geckos running around trying to make a snack out of you. The new game creates an alternative history of the city and life is hard in the war-torn wasteland.
It's the world game director Josh Sawyer crafted with care. "I just wanted to get a feeling of sort of literally the highs and lows of the area," he said.
Sawyer's crew in Irvine, California is putting the final bits of polish on the new game. The setting is an alternate history 200 years after China attacked America. But the nuclear holocaust didn't directly hit Las Vegas.
"Hoover Dam was still functional, at least partially, and because it was still functional, it was a big resource that people were fighting over," said Sawyer.
But are we ready in the event of an actual emergency? Steve Rypka with Green Dream Enterprises thinks so, even on his roof. "These panels will always be producing energy," he said.
Rypka is a green living consultant and his home solar energy array generates so much electricity that he doesn't really need a connection to the grid. "Every single light bulb, computer, television, appliance, anything that runs on electricity."
If Fallout universe became real, he would just need to make a few tweaks to his system, get a battery and could become self-sufficient.
Coal power plants would be the first to go down. Their source of fuel gets hauled in from Wyoming. Solar power factors into the game, but Rypka says photovoltaic cells can last hundreds of years with little maintenance.
But that brings up the other vital need in the desert -- water. The answer comes from Ronald Zegers at the River Mountains Treatment Center. "From a community standpoint, we have planned for pretty much worst case," he said.
All the water from Las Vegas can be controlled from a compound safely tucked away in Henderson. But without humans monitoring the 90,000 valves and shutoffs, the whole system could break down in hours, or worse.
"We get a power loss? This system goes down," said Zegers.
Even in isolation, the compound could keep the water flowing. "We can actually keep staff here. We have actual food in the warehouse, the ration type that we can survive on."
And it's that realism Sawyer wants for Fallout. Realistic, but still fun. "It's arguable that 200 years after all this stuff happened, everything would fall apart," he said.
As for this imaginary New Vegas, it may be a nice place to visit, but it is up to you if you want to live here.
Las Vegas has had a little checkered past in video games -- often made fun of for our cliches --but Sawyer and the team really want to evoke that retro Rat Pack vibe. Sawyer even took a motorcycle trip through Goodsprings, Primm and other dusty trails to really bring the Las Vegas Valley to life.
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