My husband J and some friends used to obsessively play Rust, the indie survival game in which the greatest threat you face comes from other players.
I would sit next to them working or playing League of Legends and listen to them as they strategized about building and trapping their fortresses or raiding those of other players. I immediately realized that the game was way too stressful for my tastes, but, as I’ve written before, I love listening to the emergent stories that people create when they play and so I followed their post-apocalyptic escapades with a kind of queasy fascination.
“You should really write about this game,” J would often tell me. I always demurred, saying that I would need a hook beyond the economy of scarcity that obtains in several games in this genre. So when Garry Newman announced that he would be implementing a new system of avatar generation in which players would be assigned a face and a race randomly, I knew I had finally found an opening through which I could enter the world of Rust.
My most recent piece for Al Jazeera America describes the fans’ reactions to Newman’s experiment and what it can tell us about the color-blind rhetoric that still abounds online.
Click on over and share your own reactions in the comments!