Rust - Representing Race in Games - Extra Credits -

Rust – Representing Race in Games – Extra Credits

Extra Credits
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Rust assigns players a skin color on character creation, then ties it to their Steam account so they can never change it. This game design decision creates diversity in the player base and has forced many players to play as characters of an ethnicity different from their own. Since the game does not censor players’ language, many of these players are hearing themselves called racial insults for the first time. While uncomfortable, this experience also pushes players who might normally be oblivious to those issues (or even participate in them) to consider things from a different perspective.
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♪ Intro Music: “Penguin Cap” by CarboHydroM

♪ Outro Music: “What We Left Behind” by Aviators


  1. I just wish Rust was split into two games, one where fresh start players wear modern clothes (e.g. T-Shirt) with armor effects that are equivalent to nakedness and can upgrade to more realistic/accurate clothes with better/more effective armor effects. The other one would be just the way it is now. This would allow a more sensitive audience to try the game without seeing all the graphics that the developers put in.

  2. A problem I think many games have when they try to approach the subject of race is that they tend to have a habit of preaching to the choir and therefore ultimately don't say anything that most of us didn't already agree with ('You mean racism is bad? I never realized that until now!') and can, by extension, grind on a lot of people since it can feel very much like being talked down to or treated like an idiot.

    Take, for example, the 'lynching' scene from the beginning of Bioshock Infinite, a scene where you find yourself amidst a jeering crowd all waiting to pelt an interracial couple held captive on a stage with baseballs and presenting you with a clear, well laid out choice of whether to join the crowd or pelt the presenter instead (a choice that was probably pretty straight forward and easy for most of us to make), I didn't leave that scene with any newfound sense of empathy for victims of racism because it just played upon attitudes that I already hold (that discrimination in all forms is wrong) and therefore didn't really call upon any kind of introspection or examination of my actions or the way I think about things.

    I would say that if a game wants to tackle the subject of racism and make a real impact on others it needs to be a lot more subtle and insidious, it needs to lure the player into a false sense of certainty and confidence about their actions before holding a mirror up to them and fairly pointing out the reality of how they've acted so they can judge themselves accordingly, it would need to be a game in which you subtly encourage the player to be racist/bigoted, get the player implicated in this so that when you have that moment of judgement and reflection you strip away the ability to just palm everything off on an evil NPC or plot point, you have to look at yourself and only yourself.

    For this to work you'd also need to make the targets of this treatment in your game a group of people for whom many people don't really think about in regards to this subject, to echo back to my previous point on Bioshock, when I saw that interracial couple at the beginning and was presented with that choice my mind immediately kicked into my conscious attitude of 'I believe mistreating people from ethnic minorities is wrong', I was consciously aware that my actions and the way I was thinking had a racial element to it and it's possible that would influence my choice.

    Everybody knows what it's like in one way or another to be the one against a crowd, we all know we don't like it and as such it's not especially enlightening, what few people will look in the mirror and confront themselves about is the times when they join the crowd, when they're the one doing the victimizing.

  3. I mean… the general idea of labels, outside of those relating to talents, professions and honors (as in Sir, Doctor, Professor, Cop, etc.), is kind of dumb in the first place. No one corresponds 100% to any label.

  4. Well they added more character models so…

  5. I was told that the character models DID make a difference. Again 2nd hand, but the best roll you can hope for is a skinny short, and ahem less than endowed male. It gives you a smaller hitbox

  6. Well you know there is a female player model

  7. That’s an interesting discrimination aspect they built in, why is it ok to represent undressed guys running around?

  8. Something I really want to praise you for is taking an uncomfortable question and making it approachable. Almost everyone else I've seen talk about this goes the high-handed holier-than-thou route, but you're honestly patient and courteous. Your videos never feel like a personal attack, just that you want people to learn, and that makes the process a lot easier. Thank you.

  9. I just feel like this prospect is a bit too community based. What if we lived in an ideal gaming world and this just becomes a minor annoyance? What if we lived in an really bad gaming world and all the racist, sexist, xenophobic, etc people never learn? What then? Even now, this is barely brought up! Rust nowadays is all about raids on bases.

  10. Remember when Daggerfall had low-res nudity and no one (as far as I heard) cared? I miss that….

  11. You: they would not add a female chscterbrust: hold my beer

  12. I do think that this was an interesting choice by the designers, but at the same time, the object of character creation is to express yourself, even if you're not making someone who looks like you, the entire point of creating a character is still in some sense self-expression. Characters in a crafted narrative don't really have to fall under this category, but if you're making a character, and the game decides everything for you, it ends up kind of sapping all of the fun out of it. You end up not being able to engage anywhere near as much in a core aspect of games, which is self-expression.

  13. Honestly I'm guessing the decision to have all players start out naked may have hurt them more than randomly assigning race and gender.

  14. This is fascinating because the game Wizard101 does have different "races" (skin colors) and I purposefully chose a dark skin color, just to experiment. I don't think I've ever encountered people being mean-spirited towards minority races in the game. Granted it's a game for 10+ kids and so is pretty heavily monitored, but once you're past level 60 or so the game becomes more for adults than kids — more complex mechanics, more complex story/characters/etc. I have my "black" character almost to her max level and not once have people been mean to me about that. In that game, 99% of any abuse players suffer in game is because of their magic school, not the color of their character's skin, and even that is pretty slim in occurrence because — well, no-one really likes assholes in that game.

  15. This is great for White players but what does this do for minority players? I'd like to also hear more about people of color forced to play White and others who play their race and have to deal with the same slurs they hear irl because they can't filter them.

  16. I Know this is likely a long shot, But this got me to thinking about how my buddy gifted the game to me, and how we have the same character model. I Think what has happened, is when he bought it, it tied the character model to his steam ID. I Wondered if it would be worth a shot maybe talking to the devs or some higher-up to see if they could tie my character model to my steam ID Instead?

  17. I'd rather design my character myself.

    I don't really care about the race, I just wanna make it the way I want.

  18. Nudity for women shouldn't be treated as more or less taboo than nudity for men… Kinda lost me there. They had the choice to help dispell the oversexualization of female characters and females in general and they backed away from it. That's not something I find understandable or something I consider a minor flaw at all. That's something important and it's important to call it out more bluntly and really look into the effects it has on the gaming community and society as a whole.

  19. When I play games with clothing customization but no character customization I always would seek out the most feminine clothes (ex: Gourdo clothes from botw). I don't wear feminine clothes irl besides a bra and female jeans (if you consider them feminine) because I don't have time to get ready in those clothes and wear them to school. But its important to me since I can attach better to that character, especially since I am trans and when I was younger I couldn't wear really any female clothes. It was important enough I would play the crap that was dress-up games because I needed something. I think character customization is important, but if that's impossible for a story then allow for opposite gender clothing.

  20. In my experience, it didn't matter what the color of your skin was or what you have hanging off of you. The only thing that matters in Rust is what you're wearing and what you got in your hands.

  21. I am vietnamese and i got white woman in rust……. XD

  22. In skyrim if you play as a khajiit or argonian they refer to you as cats, or lizards, and guards refer to you as sneak thieves, there definitely is racial tension depending on what race you pick.

  23. Race isn't arbitrary, it relates to people's Cultural identity.

  24. @3:13 Yeah it doesn't make a game unplayable per se but as a trans woman….. It is mildly dysphoria triggering to half to play as a man. I got stuck with that for 22 years roughly IRL because I thought it was the only option…..

  25. Play Kenshi, where certain factions are overtly racist and sexist to you depending on your race choice, but definitely still a different matter from Rust since its the "normal" humans are one race and are being racist to the others.

  26. Its like what south park did in their game

  27. its neat having pre determined characters, and it really helps you identify different people (enemies especially) I just wish the characters looked better. all of them are ugly as fuck

  28. …what? Rust player's aren't getting called the N word cause they're black in-game, they're getting called that because the community is toxic. Why are you trying to twist the toxicity of the community into some stupid fucking lesson directed towards white people?

    The lack of customization options was an "interesting" design choice (in that it was strange), but it wasn't a good one. There's a reason that games with multiple race options make them… well… options.

    You can't praise Rust for removing player choice in one moment and then lobby for player choice via character diversity in the next…

    I shouldn't even be annoyed at this point. I knew the moment I saw this title that Extra Credits was gonna say some stupid assed quasi-progressive shit about Rust's terrible decision to remove the player's choice of character customization. Extra Credits ALWAYS does this…

  29. Hey could someone do another episode on this, i think you guys are right and that you could reveiew how adding a female character model afected the game. (Apolgies for the grammar wasent my best subject)

  30. Why is female nudity more regulated than male nudity?

  31. The great thing is that the game has no racial narrative, it is not making a statement about races. It lets the toxic playerbase do that. If they are racist you will see racism.

  32. One argument we shouldn't ignore is to let the market decide. Ultimately, gameing studios are at the weird intersection between being aesthetic masters and economic powehouses that drive technological innovation. If they make someone else happy and others want to buy it, who am I to intercede? If they want to appeal to what they perceive as their target demographic in a bid to maximize profits? I understand. If innovative companies find the investment of customizable avatars for generalized player immersion is profitable, morally and monetarily, Im sure others will follow suit, and I am happy more can find enjoyment in what the studios create.

  33. You spend a portion of the video talking about how it's an injustice that many people don't get to be represented in games due to arbitrary universal defaults for identity in the gaming industry… yet would this not contradict rust's decision as what they're doing prevents the diversity from being utilized by those initially having asked for it given they don't actually have the choice to play as them? In the short term it's clear where the value is in rust's decsion making, but in the long term it's also clear that re-introducing choice to actually utilize the diversity is important

  34. And this game is coming from Garry’s Mod developers

  35. Huh… Interesting. I bet if they did add a female model [assuming they haven't already, seeing as how this video is 5 years old], it would generate thought not only about race, but also gender.

  36. I would like to see a game emulate the arbitrary nature of socioeconomic status and the power that any one group has politically. There are some inherent challenges in making a game about it, but I think it's worthwhile. I'd like to see how it effects people in-game, and how it would match up or be different to real life. I'm thinking something on the lines of a political simulacra that depends entirely on the players, and how they leverage power. Whether in numbers in civil disobedience, or with rich players supporting or attempting to stop these movements through bribes and private militaries. The more I think of it; the more it seems too broad. I still like the idea of it though.

  37. idk why would anyone feel uncomfortable just by playing a dude that is not the same race as the player

  38. It's weird to think almost 2,000 hours of gameplay ago, this mechanic is what got me to start playing that game. It's a mechanic I take entirely for granted at this point, yet it's still wildly novel.

  39. I didn't like it cause of that mechanic and the toxicity. We should be able to play as we want but instead being forced to play as someone who doesn't look like you is a drawback to me. I just wanted my character that represented me and that i could play without paying attention to but instead i see myself as someone else. Which makes me more uncomfortable than that chair. I want to be me ya know? Besides no matter how many worlds i entered my character was the same and there is no option for changing it. Which sucked. And the community was obnoxious and retarded to me.

  40. Its very sad that games has mostly white chracters and in social games people make their avatar white even they aren't white just because they think being not white is bad this is why racism sucks

  41. In the sims I moslty played with white characters until I just decided one day. You know what? Let's make a black character. And I still love that decision. I could play with different colors and saw the use of different clothes.

  42. Maybe make it so that YOUR POV is your choses skin colour, but everybody else sees a pre-rolled look

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