Rust, a procedurally-generated sandbox survival game developed by Facepunch Studios, added female player models in their newest update. But players don’t get to choose their gender. Instead the game randomly assigns people a permanent gender (the game has previously assigned player models with unchangeable faces and skin tones, and now your gender in the game is also permanently tied to your SteamID).
This has upset a small portion of male Rust players, who are complaining loudly on Steam and other online forums about having to play a woman. The developers talked a little about the decision and the inevitable player upset on their blog.
“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.”
In an interview with Eurogamer, the head of Facepunch Studios Gary Newman said the reason they wanted to randomize the character player model in the first place was because they didn’t want to focus on character creation. Newman said many other games focus so heavily on their character creation options that it feels like that aspect becomes more important than the game itself.
“We were also talking about how we hate how players are recognizable by their names floating over their heads. How in an ideal world players would be recognizable by what they look like. And this would be consistent and follow them around permanently,” Newman said.
“We landed on randomizing player’s appearance and locking them to it, then working on a bunch of different heads and customization attributes that would make players more and more unique.”
As for if there will ever be any possibility in the future for players to be able to choose their own appearance or gender, Newman said “No wiggle room. You are who you are. Before we added different races and genders you played as a bald white guy - you never had a choice. So we’re not taking a choice away from the player, we’re just adding more variety to the player models. I don’t believe that playing as a different gender/race detracts from anyone’s enjoyment of the game.”
Rust is an early access game currently available for PC, Mac, and Linux on Steam for $19.99.