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This game made people play as women and black characters – the reaction was shocking

Joseph McCormick April 14, 2016

The creator of a video game which forced half of its players to assume a female character has spoken of an “extreme” reaction.

Garry Newman, who was the lead developer in the survival game Rust, wrote in the Guardian of the “extreme” reaction.

The game was updated by developers to permanently make half of all players’ characters female.

Some were also made to play as a non-white character.

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Newman writes: “Rust is not a game about identity,” saying it is actually about “starvation, dehydration, radiation, exposure, and bear attacks.”

Initially, the game had every player use a white bald male character.

Newman writes that the development team did not want to “spend six months making a player customisation tool”, and instead wanted to focus on the game itself.

He said he did not want to give the option of allowing users to hide behind alternate appearances, if they had attacked another.

“A survivor shouldn’t be able to attack another then come back later with a different gender or race and befriend the same player. They should be recognisable consistently and long-term – so anyone likely to commit a crime would be more likely to wear a balaclava or a face mask.”

While some said they liked the randomised allocation of characters, Newman says male players complained about having a “political movement shoved down [their] throat”, others talking of “feminist ideals”.

One user said, according to Newman: “Why won’t you give the player base an option to choose their gender? I just want to play the game and have a connection to the character like most other games I play. Not have some political movement shoved down my throat because you make the connection we can’t choose our gender in reality so let’s make it like that in game too.”

Female players also pointed out that they had previously been made to play as a man.

Some players thanked the development team for the new update.

Newman has also been accused of transphobia by trans players, by assigning a permanent gender, and he said Russian players had complained about “being black”.

His response to being called transphobic was: “We’re assigning gender randomly in game–not in real life.”

“We don’t believe that letting you choose your race and gender would improve the game. On the other hand, randomising everyone’s gender and race meets all our requirements,” he went on.

“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.”

Check out the rest of Newman’s column in the Guardian here.

Last week, the company behind role-playing game Dungeons and Dragons spoken out to defend diversity – after video game developers were flooded with abuse.

Another video game developer recently spoke out against tides of horrific personal abuse – after the inclusion of a transgender character in an expansion pack.

More: Black, computer game, game, gaming, Women

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