Rust Update Creeps Out Players With Random, Permanent Character Gender Reassignment

Have you ever spent too much time than you'd care to admit creating a game character? It's not uncommon—after all, if it's a good game with a compelling story and lots to do, you might be committing significant free time to controlling your avatar, so you might as well make it one you can identify with. Taking that concept and flipping it upside down, Rust developer Garry Newman has ruffled some feathers by randomly and permanently assigning characters as a man or woman.

Your sole task in Rust is to survive in a rather brutal open world, one in which other players might decide to kill you so they can feast on your flesh. There's no option to turn off player-versus-player combat, nor is there a single player mode. To survive, you have to gather resources and fight off not just attackers, but hunger, thirst, and cold.

Rust Running

Rust isn't finished, but it's playable as an Early Access title in Steam. Unlike games where you'll spend considerable time tweaking your character's traits before jumping into the story, Rust randomizes all aspects of your avatar, including race and even the size of your genitalia. With the most recent update, Newman and his team introduced a bunch of new player models, among them female characters for the first time. Just as with everything else, gamers don't have a choice whether they're male or female.

"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," Newman stated in a blog post.

Rust Tree

Reworks of the player models are coming, so if it's any consolation, Newmann says you're probably not stuck with your face. Whether that's a good thing or bad thing, well, it doesn't really matter, does it?

Not everyone is thrilled with Newman's decision to assign players a random gender.

"This whole thing is a joke. The main dev for this game has already stated in an article that this is some sort of 'social experiment', an agenda he has. Which honestly should have no place here in a fantasy video game," a Rust player said.

Others feel that Newman could take things even further by introducing transgender characters.

"Just to fully disclose, yes I'm transgender and I would like myself (the minority) represented in a game like this because it would be fitting. I know race and gender are random when you start the game and I'm not even angry if I wouldn't get to be transgender in game but I insist on my people being properly represented and be part of society," another Rust player said.

This recent hubbub aside, the overall reception to Rust is positive, both from players and the media. If you want to join the fun and see what all the fuss is about, it's available on Steam for $20, or $60 for a four-pack to share with friends.