Discovering the Future of Mobility–in a Video Game?

By Matt Davis

Parking does not have a lot of crossover with pop culture, so imagine my surprise to discover an innovative vision of the future of parking and mobility in an unlikely place: a video game.

If you’re familiar with the video game industry or have a kid who’s a regular adventurer in the virtual realm, you may be aware of the Fallout franchise by game developer Bethesda. This post-apocalyptic role-playing game imagines a society where the transistor was never invented and nuclear fission drives innovation, mixing 1950s-style nostalgia with a warped sense of humor.

What does this have to do with parking? An upcoming location in Fallout 76 invites players to explore Watoga, a “city of the future” built atop a massive automated parking garage. According to the game’s website:

Watoga, The City of the Future, envisions a bustling, walkable metropolis where the streets are clear of illegally parked automobiles, traffic, and hit-and-run accidents. The city is built on top of a massive series of automated parking garage systems, which allow citizens to drop off their cars and store them until they’re needed again. The dozens of silos can store cars safe and secure, out of sight and out of mind!

You may have seen the garage entrances scattered throughout Watoga. It’s a simple process to pick up or drop off your car–just enter your personal ID at one of the many conveniently located terminals and the system will do the rest. You can also order up maintenance or detailing, and even buy a new car without ever talking to a salesman! Of course, these services are no longer available to the citizens of post-apocalyptic Appalachia, but it’s nice to imagine how things used to be.

As we explore the potential of smart, connected cities and look to the future of mobility, the city of Watoga sounds like a dream come true: a safe, walkable environment designed around the user experience, supported by well-integrated parking that goes above and beyond expectations by providing convenient amenities.

Watoga may be fictional but its holistic approach to parking doesn’t have to be. By shifting our mindset away from thinking about parking for a single site and instead considering it in context with the surrounding community, we can find ways for multiple user groups to share parking and meet demand without overbuilding. Likewise, while the size and scope of Watoga’s automated parking facilities may pose a challenge in the real world, many cities are discovering that mechanical and automated parking solutions provide a great deal of value when conditions are right.

Apocalypse aside, Watoga indeed sounds like the kind of city we should aspire to create. What do you think of Fallout’s “City of the Future?”

Matt Davis is associate principal with Watry Design, Inc.