Computer game lets white people experience what it's like to be a bullied minority
Players of the computer survival game Rust can no longer choose what their avatar looks like but will have an appearance randomly assigned to them. The gaming websites Gamerspot.com and Kotaku.com have reported on the change.
Game developer Gary Newman decided to undertake a basic change to Rust - avatars will have different kinds of faces and skin colors, but players can no longer choose them, as they will be randomly assigned. Newman gave a simple explanation for the change: "Everyone has a pseudo-unique face and skin color. Just like in real life, you are who you are - you cannot change your face or your skin color. Those characteristics are now linked with your steam identity."
It is customary practice in computer games for players to choose what their avatars look like. In Rust, all of the characters previously had white skin and looked alike, but that's all over now.
Newman's aim is to make sure no two players of Rust look alike. Other developers have also focused on discrimination during gaming, but have ascertained that players usually solve this problem among themselves - should a player behave in a racist way, a small group of other players will usually come together to start hunting him down.
Players have reacted to the rule change in different ways. Even though most view the change positively, there have also been some very negative commentaries.
One player, for example, writes: "Can I or will I be able to change the face and skin color of my avatar in future? I just can't play with a character that has been randomly assigned to me and I will not play unless I can change it."
Newman hopes the new rules will teach players to have more empathy: "I want a white player who has to play the game using a black-skinned avatar to realize what it is like to be an oppressed minority. It's pleasant to see how avatars of different races cooperate in the game, you realize that you can't influence the race you were born with."
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