Ostensibly, Fallout Shelter is more or less a fallout themed version of tiny tower. You build your rooms, you maintain them, you look after the happiness of your dwellers, you try to assign them to the right room to maximize production. It has the added bonus of having levels and stats equipment and loot and raiders and being able to send your dwellers out to adventure in the wasteland, so there are some elements that are more sophisticated than Tiny Tower, and overall I’m enjoying the mini-game. But…

The game is just so goddamn aggressively heteronormative. The population management aspect of the game, specifically the “knock up your vault dwellers to increase your population,” already made me really uncomfortable. There’s way too much ugly history of women as chattel, that the idea of farming them the way you do power or water or food was just gross. That’s ok, I figured, I’d just skip that part of the game. It’d make getting my population up to unlock rooms a bit harder, but there was plenty else to play with in the  game that I could more or less ignore that bit.

But then the goals rolled in. Deliver six baby dwellers. Have seven of your dwellers pregnant. And I could only get rid of one of those a day, so I’m stuck looking at in-game goals that are pushing me to turn my lady dwellers into brood mares.

Insert disgusted Cassandra noise here.

Well, fuck it. I can wait those ones out, and there are still plenty of other goals to work on that aren’t horrifying. And so long as I’m not trying to mate my vault dwellers, I can wholly ignore that somehow there are zero gay or bi or trans vault dwellers and that every single female dweller in the game is perfectly willing to get and be knocked up. The premise that reproductive rights get thrown out the window because it’s post-apocalyptic is honestly a trope of “we need to repopulate the earth so let’s just force all the women into pregnancy” and is…grotesque. I can assure you that if the world ends you can take away my bodily autonomy when I’m goddamn dead, and don’t think I won’t be armed to the teeth to defend it.

If I had my druthers, getting dwellers to mate would actually be a matchmaking part of the game, and not just a “shove two people in a room until they boink” move. It’d be more like matching a dweller to the right room, where if you match them to the right dweller they kiss kiss fall in love. You wouldn’t even have to limit it to monogamous romance, either. Maybe there are several dwellers that fit his or her criteria, and then they all kiss kiss fall in love disappear into the back room to make happy noises. You could have gay or straight or bi or trans characters and not everyone has to get knocked up and shovel out babies for the greater good. Maybe the happiness of my dwellers does more for the greater good than a teeming mass of babies, and maybe it’d be nice if getting a baby out of was more like getting a shiny pokemon than Farmville but for babies.

Frankly, I agree with Mur Lafferty when she writes that it makes her feel a bit like Immortan Joe (ha you thought I was finally shutting up about Mad Max but NOPE GUESS AGAIN IT’S NEVER GOING AWAY AHAHAHAHA).

But the thing that made me finally flip the fuck out wasn’t any of this. I was uncomfortable, but compartmentalized, and the rest of the game dinged a lot of the reward centers in my brain for video games. I mean, it still does, I’m still playing it, but it was this moment that got me actually mad enough to start yelling about how bullshit this is.

It’s the advantage that Tiny Tower has over Fallout Shelter, in that all the characters in the former are pixels and in the latter they’re sprites. This gives Fallout Shelter more room for character design, and they’ve chose to use that power for…this.

The nightwear gives a pretty big boost to charisma. Which means it’s useful for wearing in the barracks, for those times when I did decide to play a little matchmaker in the game (also useful in the radio room, but you need 24 citizens for that and good luck getting 24 citizens when you’re trying not to breed your dwellers). I had put these jammies on the dudes to boost their charisma with the ladies, like you do (because who doesn’t go for a guy in 1950s brown jamjams), but then I had a moment where it seemed prudent to put it on the lady in the room. And I got this. I went from fucking jamjams to naughty nightwear and why the fuck am I suddenly participating in turning a sprite game into porn for dudes that now I have to look at. Why. Somebody had to make the actual choice for the jammies to be babydoll lingerie on the lady, to do such a radically different design on the woman instead of the dude, when every other armor in the game pretty much looks the same on each gender and just…ugh. Why. Whyyyyyy.

I know Fallout 3 did this too. And since I only ever played female characters, it didn’t rile me up, I guess because it felt like it fit into that retro-futuristic ridiculous aesthetic. But I’m mad here. So mad.

I just thought the lady would be really happy in some comfy jamjams.

↓ Transcript
Panel 1: Woman in a fallout jumpsuit cozying up to a man in leopard print pajamas. "Hey there big fella, those look pretty comfy, mind if I try them on?"

Panel 2: Comfy pajamas have changed into a babydoll negligee when she puts it on. "Are you fucking kidding me with this shit?"