Rust Dev Responds to "Extreme" Reaction to New Gender/Race Changes

"[T]he decision to randomize race and gender is all about better gameplay, not imposing ideology."

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Garry Newman, the lead developer on survival game Rust, has responded to the "extreme" reaction that the game's new gender and race randomization has received. The developers updated the game with a feature that randomly chooses a permanent gender and race for players based on their SteamID--and some players weren't too happy about it.

Newman wrote an article for The Guardian, in which he explained the decision behind the randomization. He said, "Rust is not a game about identity," but instead a game about survival through "starvation, dehydration, radiation, exposure, and bear attacks."

The game originally had every player appear as a white bald man, but the developer didn't want to "spend six months making a player customization tool," instead wanting to focus on the game. Newman explained how the team believes a player shouldn't be able to attack someone, then come back later with a different appearance, acting more friendly.

Since the change, Newman said the opinions are mixed--some like it, some don't. Some male players have complained about having a "political movement shoved down [their] throat," while female players have pointed out that they were already being forced to play as men--Newman says some have even thanked the development team for the addition.

Newman added that he's received most complaints about "being black" from Russian players. Transgender players have also aired their complaints--one said that assigning a permanent gender resembled transphobia. Newman says he understands the arguments from transgender players, but his feelings stay the same: "We're assigning gender randomly in game--not in real life."

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He says the decision is about gameplay.

"We don't believe that letting you choose your race and gender would improve the game. On the other hand, randomizing everyone's gender and race meets all our requirements," he explained. "We get an even spread of races and genders that make players more identifiable, while at the same time making the social aspects of the game much more interesting."

You can read the rest of Newman's article at The Guardian.

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