Rust Dev Dishonestly Trolls Players With Forced Gender, Race Assignment

In what could be considered as the ultimate troll attempt from a game designer, Garry Newman of Garry’s Mod fame has decided to expand the character options in Rust. In doing so he actually restricted player agency with the latest update, adding in females and alternative races, but permanently assigning the character to the user’s SteamID account and not letting users change or alter them.

The move sent a flurry of contempt, confusion, anger, praise and disgruntlement the way of Facepunch Studios from the Rust community. What’s funny is that Newman responded by making an article on the Guardian to explain that the feature isn’t going away. He also explained that some people – like the Russians – complained about playing as blacks, while transgender gamers complained about having their agency stripped from them, they also stated that it was like exhibiting real world transphobia by taking away the choice.

Newman’s response to the transgender gamers? Well, he states…

“I understand the arguments from transgender players – well, as much as a straight man can. But it feels to me like the same response stands. We’re assigning gender randomly in game – not in real life.”

Newman seems to forget that a lot of times people are playing games to escape from the inhibitory restrictions in real life. Games offering choice are a go-to way for people to explore different aspects of their entertainment desires.

Some have argued that Rust only ever supported white, bald guys and questioned what the big deal was by forcing gender and race assignment? Well, a lot of people were likely under the assumption that it was going to be like DayZ where the white guy was the default model and that later on they would expand the character creation options. If forced assignment is temporary, then it’s not that big of a deal.

Newman states that that’s not what they’re about at Facepunch when it comes to character creation in Rust, writing…

“We decided that we didn’t want players to pick their own appearance. We felt that player customisation had got a bit out of control in other games. And we didn’t want to spend six months making a player customisation tool – we wanted to concentrate on the game.”

Player customization had got a bit out of control in other games? That seems to completely contradict his later comments made in the article where Newman states…

“Our female players seem more pragmatic. They point out that they’ve already being play Rust as men for the past two years. Some have got in touch to thank us. Mostly they see it as no big deal.”


“You could probably count on your fingers the number of major, big-budget games where you have no choice but to play as a woman, never mind having no choice but to play as a black woman. Female gamers are obviously more forgiving – they’ve been playing games as men for most of their lives.”

False equivalency.

Majority of the big-budget player base happens to be young male, so the market caters to who spends the money on those games. It’s no different than the protagonists in hidden object games mostly being female, since that’s who makes up for the majority of the player base.

These stats are backed up by a market research report from DeltaDNA, where the results of more than 9 million gamers saw that 90% of first-person shooters are played by men. The stats also show that 89% of hidden object puzzle games are played by females.

These stats were similar across the PC gaming space in a study conducted by Sergey Galyonkin.

Unless Newman has stats that show otherwise, trying to say that women make up an equal market demographic of big budget AAA games, and that they’re being forced to play as males is disingenuous, since they don’t make up nearly the same market base as young male players.

That’s not to mention that in AAA games they clearly advertise beforehand who you’ll be playing, so it’s not like it’s you’re rolling the dice when it comes to who you’ll play. No one goes into Uncharted or Tomb Raider shocked to find that the protagonist isn’t an Asian midget with robotic prosthetic legs.

The represented character(s) in big budget games are usually based on a market response to the expected target demographic (and usually done with a lot of focus group testing); it’s not market activism. Newman should know better.

Additionally, Rust is not a big-budget game, it’s an Early Access MMO-style survival game. In a lot of games like this there usually is an option to customize your character to some degree, like DayZ, Starbound, Terraria, ARK: Survival Evolved or Kenshi, to name but a few.

Usually in online survival games players like having an avatar that they want to play as in the game.

I imagine a lot of players are frustrated that Rust won’t allow them to roleplay as the character they want, as is common in most RPGs and survival games.

Newman saying that character customization is out of hand while at the same time saying women have to get stuck with male characters in big-budget games is an oxymoron, because either Newman is trying to make a political point about being stuck with a character or he’s admitting Facepunch is lazy and character customization options are just too much for them.


OAG staff consists of writers creating content about video game and digital culture.

33 thoughts on “Rust Dev Dishonestly Trolls Players With Forced Gender, Race Assignment

  1. Kinda the same thing is going on Tera at the moment. All the new classes are female exclusive. Reapers are exclusive to Elins, Gunners are exclusive to female High Elves and Castanics, Brawlers exclusive to Human Females and the upcoming Ninja Class is once again Elin exclusive.
    Needless to say this is pissing off allot of players and the game isn’t doing too hot at the moment.
    Reason? They say female avatars are the most played and Blue Hole Studios too cheap to make male animations for the new classes. Though one could wonder is it is because allot of costumes and classes are exclusive to female avatars that female avatars are overrepresented in Tera.

      1. They sort of painted themselves in the corner when Tera launched since one of the selling points was that every race and gender had unique combat animations and armor designs but as time went on Blue Hole Studios just got more and more lazy.
        The new brawler class even has recycled animations from old classes.
        And don’t get me started on the recycled bosses and how all “new” armor looks like the starter armor in the hopes you pull out your credit card to buy skins so your char does not look like shit.
        It seriously pains me how their fucking up such a great MMO.

  2. Let’s wait a couple of months (and more insults from him) to see if his negative attitude has had any effect on sales.

  3. I saw this on NicheGamer. I commented that most people would pick females if they could, like most other games. Nobody seemed to agree. I think it’s even more likely in the case of Rust, which has nudity.

    I don’t understand how he can say he wants to focus on the gameplay, but throws in these unnecessary character aesthetics whilst simultaneously complaining that character creation elsewhere is “getting out-of-control”. There’s so much self-contradiction going on.

    First off, character customization is easily “under control” for the devs. It doesn’t mutate into a sentient, uncontrollable beast that consumes the game and the developers. Secondly, it’s very easy to minimize customization options, hence keeping them under control.

    I say options, because (as you pointed out), choice/options is important. In reality, there are so many things we cannot choose. Again, as you said, people use games to escape from reality. So it makes sense to allow people those choices they don’t have in real life.

    Those idiots whining about lack of female protagonists always forget that whenever someone makes a female character, the demographic they value so highly rages about every aspect of the character being not good enough a portrayal for them. That’s one of the primary reasons why people avoid female protagonists. There are plenty more reasons, but I’m too tired to go into them right now.

    I’m so sick of people bitching about “diversity”. “Diversity” doesn’t care whether a person is intelligent, kind, caring, has saved tons of lives, has tons of achievements, or anything. As far as “diversity” is concerned, the only thing that matters is stuff that nobody gets to choose (eg. skin color, gender, sexual orientation). The person inside doesn’t matter. And that is fucked up.

    1. the demographic they value so highly rages about every aspect of the character being not good enough a portrayal for them. That’s one of the primary reasons why people avoid female protagonists.

      I see that a lot. If she’s not flawed to perfection (she can’t be too confident, too whiny, too masculine, too feminine, too sexy, too butch, too tough, too muscular, too soft, too comedic, to sassy, etc., etc., etc.,) she has to look a certain way and behave a certain way. It’s pretty ridiculous. Female protags are micromanaged to the point where a lot of times the games they’re in aren’t fun to play. In turn, sales tank.

      At the end of the day, a lot of games starring female characters outside of JRPGs don’t sell like hot cakes because the games are always homogenized and filtered down into these politically correct, boring, set-piece driven sociopolitical talking points.

      Games like Metroid or Perfect Dark can no longer just exist, they now have to be some social commentary about gender politics, and that in itself is going to be a huge turn off to a lot of people looking to escape that nonsense.

      Now props to Crystal Dynamics for not littering the new Tomb Raider reboots with gender politics crap, but they really needed to iron out a more cohesive direction for this new Lara: Either she’s Rambo or she’s not.

      1. It’s super hypocritical because they’re trying to force females to look and behave how they personally want them to, by attacking how other people are portraying females.

        If they don’t like it, they should make their own fucking stuff and stop screwing with everyone else’s. Well, actually, I guess that’s what this guy is doing. I’m too tired to rebutt that.

        I’ve noticed that the female characters Westerners look up to most are the ones who have no personality, no depth. As soon as anyone tries to flesh out that character, everyone rages. Fleshing out characters tends to reveal weaknesses, because real people have weaknesses. But people don’t seem to understand that.

      2. I’ve noticed that the female characters Westerners look up to most are the ones who have no personality, no depth. As soon as anyone tries to
        flesh out that character, everyone rages

        Don’t forget the main and most important requirement: Sex appeal has to be completely removed in order for a female character to be strong and independent.

        They probably want every female character to look like Ellie from Borderlands.

        Fleshing out characters tends
        to reveal weaknesses, because real people have weaknesses. But people don’t seem to understand that.

        Gotta keep up that feminist narrative of women-are-perfect-and-can-do-no-wrong-ever you know.

      3. From what I heard was that the Tomb Raider reboot was a originally a completely new game that Crystal Dynamics pitched but Eidos decides to slap the Tomb Raider brand on it which could explain the Rambo Lara croft.

      4. Oh really? See that would make sense. I didn’t really follow the design philosophy behind the Tomb Raider games because they were steeped in way too much sociopolitical nonsense and not enough about the ludology of what made Tomb Raider games stand out back in the day, both mechanically and thematically.

        If there’s one thing I hate is a game that has more merit as a political talking point outside of the game than having anything anywhere close to being as equally engaging inside the game itself. That’s part of why gamers always say “leave politics out of it”.

  4. Here’s the thing:

    USUALLY, when you’re “forced” to play a character it is because you’re playing as a established character, a character that already has its own set motivations, history, emotions personality, etc. You’re playing a character that was created by someone else that has established narrative connection to the world is set in. The gender of that character is not a choice in the same way that his personality and history is not a choice, they’re a part of the set of characteristics that make that character, it’s the same as choosing a pre-made character to play in a table RPG session, you’re rolepaying as someone’s else creation.

    On a game like rust however, a SANDBOX’ed MMO game, there is no deep narrative connection between your character and that universe, it’s all a BLANK SLATE where you create the narrative connection… So why the hell your character is not a blank slate where you can control its atributes at hand, just like the rest of the game?

    Because the dev is lazy (too hard to develop character customization) and is using political excuses to hide his lazyness.

    1. I agree with absolutely everything you just wrote. The Guardian’s comment section is filled with people taking shots at “straight white males” but a lot of them are completely jumping the shark on this topic when in reality the whole thing boils down to Newman and crew being lazy.

      1. I sometimes wonder how many of those people are just the same few assholes using different accounts or bots in an attempt to make their bullshit look like popular opinion.

    2. I personally think that if it was truly a matter of laziness, he wouldn’t have bothered to add more genders and skin colors. It sounds to me like he’s intentionally messing with people for kicks, or letting his inner SJW run amok, and making up stupid reasons to justify. And they are very stupid reasons, because they all contradict each other.

  5. I honestly have no sympathy left for gamers who buy “Early Access” games. On the one hand, that sucks, on the other hand, maybe you shouldn’t have paid for the game until it actually releases.

  6. Early Access: Paying devs to fuck with your games in real time. They might even finish the game if you’re lucky!

  7. I’ve got no real problem with fixed characters like Geralt or Lara but I do lean towards favouring choice, I can spend hours in decent character creators. Anyways, you can easily swallow a fixed character in a narrative driven game but to have it forced on you in a game like this when there’s technically options built in is pretty nonsensical.

    Thankfully I couldn’t give 2 shits about Rust.

    1. Why should you favor any of them ? they are completely different approaches to developing characters with both advantages and disadvantages

      You can have both kinds of games, there is no need to choose the ONE style

      1. Relax mate, it’s just a preference. Definitely wasn’t saying there isn’t room for both, some of my all time fave games like GTA, Mass Effect and The Witcher 3 are fixed but I lean slightly more towards creating my own player characters.

  8. Seems like they are running social experiments at the expense of the poor gullible souls that paid for an early access game, the devs might be dicks but the players should have known better

  9. Fortunately for me I don’t give a fuck about Rust to be honest. But christ this Newman person seems to be completely full of shit… for now.

    Gender politics are nothing but fucking cancer.

  10. I remember the main character of this issue making an article on this saying something along the lines, “forcing racist gamers to play as black men”, apparently that was ok back then, but when it happened to trans people then it became a problem.

    Yes i am referring to Greyson. No one cared about Quinn.

  11. This just seems like such a f%^&*(g non issue. I can’t even understand the trans perspective here for complaining. There was originally no choice, and now there is a more diverse no choice.

    and if you’re arguing from a role-playing perspective there is no role-playing in the game, not formally anyway. Oh no I can’t pretend to be a character in a meh survival game boo hoo.

    Really do not understand the issue.

    1. There was originally no choice, and now there is a more diverse no choice.

      Well previously people thought the no-choice factor was there as a default until they could expand the character creation options. It happens with a lot of Early Access games with character creation tools, or MMOs. Usually there is the default templates that later expand into more options with future updates.

      In this case, they expanded the options but took away the choice for those options. I think people would have been okay with this decision if they had known from the start that they would never be able to change their character or choose their preference.

      1. Hmm…

        well, for me, something not meeting my expectations is not a problem with the thing but my expectations.

        I guess I see where they could be coming from, and that rep Appears to be instigating for no reason, but it still seems like a total non issue.

        Honestly just seems the complainers are just insecure or against the particular one they were given. Sprinkles of racism or other isms methinks might be present in a couple of them (or they just don’t like the lack of choice).

      2. Honestly just seems the complainers are just insecure or against the particular one they were given. Sprinkles of racism or other isms methinks might be present in a couple of them (or they just don’t like the lack of choice).

        I think it’s a mix and dash of all of the above. Some people might envision themselves role-playing Rust as some badass, bald, escaped prisoner-type… it can be immersion breaking for players when they find out they’re actually a black female.

        Given that Rust has no storyline, it’s not as if the characters matter to the in-game world-building mechanics other than what story players give themselves. In this regard, though, if you’re assigned a character you either change your role-play tactics or change games if you’re dissatisfied with your character.

        I don’t mind playing different characters, but for most MMO-types I most certainly don’t stick with a game if I’m forced to play as a character I don’t want to play as. It was one of the things that made Mount & Blade so fun… especially the American Revolution mod and the Shogun mod, both of which allowed you to customize your character and race to fit in with the times, so you could role-play as a character you saw fit to match the world.

  12. Yeah epic troll dude, don’t mind the lost revenue from all the sales lost.
    They should just stop being lazy and add a character creator tool, hell, they can even crowd source it to the community if they want.

  13. I can’t stand this Newman Guy. Glad I did a little research before giving this ass my money. I’m not buying a damn thing from this punk ‘know it all’ kid or anything out of that studio. Thx for the informative article

  14. Okay, this is my opinion on this one: I’m a female gamer and I was assigned a male char in this game. When we were all the same, I didn’t mind being a guy but since really all my other female friends got chicks to play with, it just sucks.
    Got almost 600 games on my steam account but this is the only game i regret buying ~.~

    1. Yeah it cuts the cloth both ways. I don’t even know why he was so intent on defending this as if only white Russian males would be peeved about playing black females, when in reality there may also be black females stuck playing as white guys.

      If this were a story-driven game where the characters had clear writing based around their race/gender/etc., I could understand, but in this case forcing people to be a gender/race and trolling them about it is really silly.

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