While the nuclear mushroom cloud rising above the Nevada desert is an iconic and familiar image, what went on beneath the cloud is hazier and less well understood. At the surface level nuclear tests at the Nevada Test Site in the 1950s entailed extensive scientific, military, and social experiments. This article focuses on two projects overseen by the Federal Civil Defense Administration (FCDA), Doom Town I and II, and their ties with 1950s cultural values and the consumer landscape. This article situates the two mock American townscapes as part of the cultural battlefield of the Cold War and explores how they served as powerful but also deeply flawed symbols of U.S. capitalism and a new suburban way of life.
This article explores representations of the American West in computer and videogames from the late 1970s through 2006. The article reveals how several titles, including the early Boot Hill (1977), invoked classic nineteenth-century western motifs, employing the six-shooter, wagon train, and iron horse to sell late twentieth-century entertainment technology to a global audience. Such games allowed players, typically adolescent males, to recreate a version of history and to participate actively in the more violent aspects of the ““Wild West.”” The arcade Western emerged as a subgenre within computer entertainment, offering a distinctive, interactive amalgam of popular frontier-based fictions, including the nineteenth-century dime novel, Buffalo Bill Cody’s Wild West show, and the modern Hollywood western. Computer technology thus served established myths surrounding the ““Wild West,”” even as New Western History was challenging their authenticity.