A while back I wrote about Rust‘s intriguing decision to randomize the race of player avatars by tying them to their Steam IDs. As you might imagine,
The reactions to Rust’s unprecedented experiment were swift. Many gamers were aggrieved by the skin tone automatically assigned them. Others felt drafted into racial discourses that they preferred to ignore, and lamented the entrance of social justice activism into what they saw as a blissfully post-racial online world. But the backlash only underscored a disturbing reality: By insisting that race doesn’t or shouldn’t exist online, such attitudes ensure an online status quo in which people of color remain marginalized and invisible.
So when Rust developer Garry Newman announced today that female character models would be rolling out and that they, too, would be randomized, I braced myself for the inevitable backlash.
And here it is, right on time!
On the Rust Dev Blog, Newman describes his logic thusly:
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.
And to be honest, he pretty much dropped the mic on them. I don’t have much to add other than this:
In light of the recent Overwatch Butt Pose blow up in which a certain segment of fans described the process of giving feedback on a beta as “attempts at censorship,” it is… let’s just say… interesting to note that no one is calling out these critics for refusing to support the developer’s artistic vision.
It’s almost as if they only support artists’ visions if they coincide with their own world view and don’t really understand what censorship is!