The world of Rust thrusts your naked character in a harsh environment, left to build weapons and tools, and eventually a home, among the brutality of nature. Friends are a big part of this, as you forge alliances to try and maintain peace and order. But of course, they’re free to back-stab you at any time.
The maker of Rust (who is also known for his Garry’s Mod program) Garry Newman, decided to do something different. Back on April 7th, he wrote on the official devblog that he added new player models to the game. But taking it a step further, he noted that gender will be randomly assigned based on your steamID.
We understand this is a sore subject for a lot of people. We understand that you may now be a gender that you don’t identify with in real-life. We understand this causes you distress and makes you not want to play the game anymore. Technically nothing has changed, since half the population was already living with those feelings. The only difference is that whether you feel like this is now decided by your SteamID instead of your real life gender.
He had the idea as far as July of last year.
To clear up some confusion, when we it does go live you won’t get a choice of whether you’re female or male. We’re not “taking the choice away” from you. You never had a choice. A man’s voice coming out of a woman’s body is no more weird than an 8 year-old boy’s voice coming out of a man’s body.
Just to make it clear. Garry Newman is the developer of Rust and it’s understood he’s allowed to do whatever he pleases with his game.
But alongside that, people have the freedom to react to this decision in a positive or negative way.
People like Beth Elderkin of the Daily Dot thinks it’s a “smart move” to force a game to comply with the random selection of reality.
None of these characters are bad because they are white or male, and none of these individual games or films are bad for having characters that are white or male. It’s about volume. When your market is heavily weighted in favor of one specific group, all the other groups have to simply play along or get out of the game. All it takes is one video game shining a light on that hypocrisy for thousands of white male players to finally get what everyone else has been unhappy about.
What Beth doesn’t make any note of in her opinion piece is that the video game industry writes stories that they think people will want. Many of these have specific characters in mind for the protagonist, and it makes it easier to advertise that game if they have a concrete idea of what the protagonist would look like.
If there are any guys who don’t like it, tough. It’s our world now.
Beth says this but completely dismisses the fact that female players may be assigned as a male when they play Rust for the first time. Would her answer for the ladies be the same? “Tough”?
What Beth thinks happened in the Rust update is different from the actual changes that took place. She goes on about the white male volume of the market, and the weight of it being apparently in favor of one group, according to her.
How is that market? According to Steam charts, Rust lost over 5,000 players on average in March.
While it’s too early to tell what April’s final numbers will be, it’s worth mentioning one of the biggest player dropoffs the game had since early 2014.
Freedom of choice is an appeal to video games for a reason, of course. In games like the Fallout series where you can choose your gender and make your visual looks be whatever you want, people aren’t confined to a choice being made for them. The Mass Effect series gave you the power to choose the events of the story for yourself. The weight of your actions was shown by the effect it had, explained to you as it played out over three games.
Imagine if The Sims 4 forced players to a randomized sim the first time they logged on? You would only be able to play with this one sim, and forced to accept the personality traits that came with it regardless of what happened. To make it confine more to reality, why not give your sim an alcohol problem? And only let them have one life. The game shuts down and uninstalls itself after the sim dies.
Why? Because reality!
Now many other media outlets have decided to show certain negative reviews that fit the story they’ve wanted to tell here.
I’ve found other people in the review section. From user “Babydoll”:
I played this game for sooooooo many hours and i loved it. But, I’m a girl amd I have been waiting for the longest time for them to make girl characters, and when they finally do, i can’t be a damn girl???? Im an ugly white guy! What’s this BS about it picking for us? What’s the point to add girls when you DON’T have the CHOICE to be one??? I will not be playing this game anymore until they fix this crap…..So disappointed….. -_-
The developers have added little new content to the game in its nearly 3 year Alpha development. Instead, they have highlighted and refined features in the new Rust that brings out the worst in its community. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly why the new Rust that strips away many “survival” aspects and turns it into a cancerous FPS. With hackers and ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥s running wild, the game is nearly unplayable unless you play with a group. There is no cooperation. It’s 100% KOS. You will die and lose everything as soon as you log out.
And finally, this review from Unixbeard:
The creators attempt to stay relevant by trolling their customers under the guise of being edgy and progressive, when in reality the implementation of character customization is too hard for this group of non-programmers to pull off. The more recent race/gender misdirection is not why I recommend against purchasing the game. If you’re looking for a survival game – this game has very little in the way of PVE mechanics. If you’re wanting a PVP game, there are much better – and this one necessitates joining a clan on larger servers. If you want a sandbox game, Rust is somewhat solid in base building mechanics – but has broken physics and you’re going to get tired of the forced monthly wipes. If you want an honest development team that won’t lie to you and say things like, “We’re not putting this game on sale until it comes out of Alpha,” then consider a different game.
The game has other issues beyond some simple gender trait, and making a changed in that department does nothing to amend the bigger picture. Players don’t care about the gender update in itself, but it’s being made clear that’s what Garry Newman is spending his days fiddling around with.
He had time to write a whole Guardian article about his reasoning for this decision.
It’s maybe understandable why some male gamers wouldn’t want to play as women. They’re just not used to being forced to. You could probably count on your fingers the number of major, big-budget games where you have no choice but to play as a woman, never mind having no choice but to play as a black woman. Female gamers are obviously more forgiving – they’ve been playing games as men for most of their lives.
Ok. Let’s go through the games that make you play as women.
Arcana Heart, Asuka 120% Burning Fest, Aveyond, BloodRayne 1 & 2, Cotton, Fatal Frame, Metroid, Perfect Dark, Tomb Raider…
A Hat in Time, many Alien games, Alice & Alice Madness Returns, Assassin’s Creed Liberation, Bayonetta, Beyond Good & Evil, Beyond: Two Souls, Bioshock Infinite Burial at Sea Episode 2, Child of Light, Cinders, Daylight, Fairy Bloom Freesia, Gone Home, Heavenly Sword, Lightning Returns (Final Fantasy XIII), Mirror’s Edge, Monument Valley, Ms Pacman, the Nancy Drew series, Portal, Portal 2, Recettear: An Item Shop’s Tale, Remember Me, Shantae: Risky’s Revenge, Super Princess Peach, The Cat Lady, Transistor, Velvet Assassin….
These are only games I recall off the top of my head. But there’s a fuller list here with those I mentioned and many more. It’s an old argument in the gaming community. But it’s interesting to see another reporter use this as a reason to spite men at women’s expense.
For Garry, focusing on this comes at the cost of actually focusing on gameplay improvements, which a majority of his audience would care about. Let’s talk about our body parts all day instead of the content of video games. That sounds like a great idea.