A few weeks ago I extolled the virtue of the Fallout series as a “scrounging simulator” (”Fallout, the Scrounging Simulator”, PopMatters, 27 October 2010). A weird pleasure can be derived from these games just in poking through the ruins of a wasteland, finding material and evaluating its worth, locating junk to cobble together into useful weapons and apparel, and then bartering with other wasteland inhabitants to get what you really need.
While this odd “game within the games” measures your efficiency and encourages frugality and “traveling light”, it also, of course, strongly parallels the genre interests of the series as an experience of a post-apocalyptic world. It successfully weds mechanics that promote what I experience as a strangely pleasurable activity with the story of a wasteland traveler. However, while I enjoy this simulation of a conservative and frugal economics, there are other elements of simulation that Fallout provides that, while perhaps as seemingly authentic as a scrounging simulator, I derive far less pleasure from.