The pregnancy mechanics in Fallout Shelter are super troubling. The primary way to progress is to impregnate as many women as possible.— Feminist Frequency (@femfreq) July 2, 2015
... she is right. The further observations made by Eugene Fischer are also right. Then again, saying you cannot grow your population in Fallout Shelter quickly without pregnant women - as noted by @catherinebuca (since deleted) - mirrors life is also correct. Cue confusion for those wedded to either/or thinking.
Fallout Shelter is a resource management game set in the 1950s retro future/post-apocalyptic Fallout universe, and forms part of Bethesda's marketing juggernaut as it gears up for Fallout 4's release this coming November. And basically, all you do is run a vault, the nuclear bunkers in which some inhabitants (dwellers) of the franchise cower. And the aim, as much as there is one, is to keep it ticking over by expanding the numbers of rooms and facilities it has, keep the population going, and protect the place from radroaches and raiders on the outside. It's a make busy game, a real-time challenge of incessant micro-management pile ups.
In such a game your population has to reproduce. Therefore "impregnating as many women as possible" is an inescapable game mechanic. This is something it shares with plenty of other games, such as Civilization and Sim City. With one key difference. There population growth happens "spontaneously" off the back of food production and the placement of residential zones, respectively. Fallout Shelter demands the player adopt the view of women as a reproductive resource. This, of course, is identical to the position patriarchal social relations have placed women in throughout recorded history, which in turn has been subject to radical feminist critique.
In Fallout Shelter, there is a certain gender fluidity. If you fancy it, your time as Overseer can establish an underground matriarchal dwellerdom, place all the women in the skilled jobs - including what passes for military - while the men wash dishes and scrub floors down the canteen, but that does not escape the horizon of the managerial problematic. It simulates the managerial mindset and strives to inculcate a sympathetic predisposition toward managing things, of being able to take the point of view of management - something most workplaces try and encourage anyway. Decisions here are conditioned by resource bottlenecks or by external threats, in contrast to really-existing managerialism which is always much concerned with social control of subordinates. What Fallout Shelter depicts in its game mechanics is an ideology of management. Power is stripped out of the equation.. There is no need to take the viewpoint of your charges, because you always know better than them.
Could Fallout Shelter be fun and compelling in any other way? That's a bit like reimagining Space Invaders without the shooting. It's a stripped down ideologised simulation of the necessities that beset human communities, and how it encounters them in the context of a culture constituted by unequal gendered relationships naturalised in and by accepted regimes of ostensibly technocratic managerialism. Anita's observations are right, but they're just one element of the cultural codes wrapped up in the game.