Fallout ghouls, the skinless, gravel-throated former humans which transform the Bethesda RPG into a zombie game any time they appear, can actually be explained using science, claims one microbiologist on the Fallout Reddit.
In a lengthy post academically titled “microbial theory on the underlying cause of ghoulification”, Redditor Hinnerhynn, a former microbiology student, explains how certain breeds of fungus and pathogenic yeast can subsist inside the human body, and require a consistent stream of radiation in order to survive, perhap explaining why Fallout ghouls gather near irradiated areas.
“C. neoformans is commonly found in bird droppings, particularly those of pigeons,” Hinnerhynn explains “C. neoformans isn’t necessarily part of the normal human mycobiome, however it is a fairly common fungal pathogen. [It] has also been documented as a radiotrophic fungus in the ruins of the melted down reactor of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, utilising radiation as an energy source.
“Candida albicans is another opportunistic pathogen yeast…[which] can occur throughout many parts of the body, but commonly occurs on the mucous membranes of the mouth, and can extend to the pharynx or larynx and cause a hoarse voice. Both C. neoformans and C. albicans can also cause fungal meningitis…with symptoms such as fever, headache, a stiff neck, nausea, irritability, photophobia and phonophobia (sensitivity to light and sound respectively), and an altered mental status.
“With all of this in mind,” Hinnerhynn continues, “I believe that the ghoulification process is a result of (in addition to the human mutations) radiotrophic strains of Cryptococcus neoformans and/or Candida albicans which have been mutated by radiation to form a symbiotic, semi-opportunistic pathogen relationship with the human ‘ghoul’ hosts.”
It’s a fascinating theory, with a lot of solid-sounding scientific evidence beneath it, adding, I would argue, to the creepy factor of Fallout’s feral ghouls – like the infected in The Last of Us, Fallout’s monsters are a lot scarier when you realise that potentially, sort of, maybe they could actually exist. You can read Hinnerhynn’s full theory, complete with much more scientific jargon, over here.
Alternatively, you might want to check out some of the other best sandbox games on PC, or maybe check in on the Fallout 5 release date. There’s also Bethesda’s next big RPG, Starfield, to think about, so make sure you’re up to hyperspeed on everything we know about the Starfield release date, as 2023 finally looms.