Rust, the survival game is at it again with adding in female character models and of course they have become part of the character lottery on entry that is then tied to your steam Id. A virtual Identity that you just have to live with from then on and I kind of like this idea.
There has been a little push back from this change although, I think after the last change that included race most that play have become accustomed to the developers antics and the games intent. The developers even clarified their position on the forums before hand, which is a rather amusing little post. They certainly do like trolling their players which fits considering the main aim of the game seems to just be trolling each other through increasingly sadistic mechanics.
I still find it an interesting sociology experiment on virtual identities, as I did the last time when race was the primary issue. In an age where culturally issues and biases seem to be a huge issue again, or at least a more voiced one, now is the time where we should be talking more about such things – and more than that, trying to experience them personally.
I think games in particular, especially with the oncoming VR revolution will have a rather important place in the future with changing and molding cultural beliefs and bias. It’s one thing to be watching a show that contains a more diverse cast, but actually playing as someone. To be a different gender or race while interacting with an environment and other people well, I think it will have a huge effect.
Even just small beliefs and biases as they are now can be molded and muted with little physical psychological tricks but with games and VR, you can literally (maybe metaphysically) step into someone else’s shoes. It’s an exciting time and I’m kind of welcoming of that so I too can broaden my own understanding of others through such means. To experience stories I wouldn’t have otherwise and to further delve into the biases and beliefs that I hold.
Sometimes I think it is something where these different identities do need to be forced onto us and not just within the context of tailored stories, but more in these open-ended worlds as it is these environments where, after a brief moment of hesitation you begin attributing new personalities, beliefs and stories to these characters that you might not have otherwise thought about.
There has been quite the outcry in the west about Black Deserts Gender locked classes as well. A sentiment I understand as it often takes you away from the characterisations your used to, what you’re comfortable with and what you enjoy playing. These are important facets of online identity, and points of interest that are developed and cultivated over many years. It’s an identity we often hold quite strongly as well due to the amount of time we spend playing these games, watching our character and being involved with the world. Having a character that opposes this can be weird and uncomfortable, and can even ruin interest in a game.
However, now that I’ve played around more with the system in Black Desert Online I think this forced aspect of class characterisation can actually be a beneficial thing. I nearly always make up the same kind of characters in mmo’s. Sometimes there are a few differences based on the world, and the non human character I pick but mostly they have the same personality flowing underneath, guiding my hand through creation and my mind with creating stories around its personality. But, now that I have been creating several alts of various backgrounds, races, age, and genders I’ve come to realise how much I might have missed out on.
One of my main alts, the grizzled Ex-navy Soldier Erillan has become a character I’ve become a lot more enamoured with. I never roll male characters, ever but now I’m regularly playing one and it’s rather interesting. I am seeing and experiencing the world in a different way, not a giant shift but with how I use the character to move and interact, as well as how my mindset tends to shift my understanding of these ends up in an experience that does feel slightly different from my main. While I’m not one to get into role-play and large written diatribes about my character, I still tend to think of them as individuals with beliefs and ideals and having a character so different from the usual has opened my thinking to new ideas, new possibilities.