In what might be the most meta social experiment in the gaming industry, Rust developer Garry Newman has decided to randomly assign player genders based on their SteamID.
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In the latest update to the multiplayer survival sandbox, female character models were added to the game, along with a simple method of determing which players get which model: random chance.
The models, implemented by Garry's Mod creator Newman and character artist Taylor Reynolds, now allow players to be either male or female, just like real life! And, just like real life, this is causing some manner of confusion among the population.
"We understand this is a sore subject for a lot of people," writes Newman in the Facepunch Studios update blog. "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."
It's almost too perfect an allegory for the fluid baselessness of gender identity politics in the real world. Though the reality is it seems like this was just the simplest way for the team to show off progress made on a much larger revamp of character models, with an aim to having a character creation tool at some point.
"This is really just the first pass of an ongoing rework of the player model," Newman continued. "I’ll continue to add variations over the coming weeks which means you’re probably not stuck with your new face forever. We’ve got a decent synced workflow between the assets I make in Zbrush and the assets you’ll see in-game now, so it opens up a lot of scope to easily add or change features without a great deal of technical faffing in-between."
If only it was that simple in real life, eh?