How RimWorld’s Code Defines Strict Gender Roles

Reed’s having a bad day: her spaceship crashed, she’s one of three survivors, and the other two won’t stop hitting on her. Unfortunately for her, she’s beautiful, which means that they’re immediately enamoured with her; unfortunately for them, she’s gay, which means the feeling is definitely not mutual. Her life is a constant hellish stream of corny pick-up lines and work for the colony.

RimWorld is a scifi colony management sim that seems to effortlessly weave dynamic stories around the player’s attempts to survive on an often harsh alien world, but when it comes to sexuality, romance and gender, it tells variations on this one story far too often. We dug into the code to find out why that is.

Returning to Reed, we can see that the pick-up lines don’t get her down. She receives no penalty to her mood for being barraged by come-ons. But the two men, Rob and Boots, feel differently. They have a near-permanent mood and relationship penalty for Reed, because they keep asking her out, and keep getting rebuffed. But it’s not really their fault – Rob and Boots can’t stop hitting on her because they’re men, and because she’s just so gosh-darned pretty. More precisely, that’s how they’ve been programmed.

The eerie thing is, remove the bit about the crashed spaceship and this scenario mirrors a common narrative about romance, sexuality, and relationships between men and women. It is not at all uncommon to hear stories, in media and in real life, of how men ‘just can’t help themselves’ around beautiful women, and to hear how devastating it is for men to be rejected by the women to whom they are attracted. Setting aside the truth of those stories, and how demeaning they are to men and women both, why is this the story that RimWorld tells about relationships? In order to get to the heart of the situation, I unpacked the latest publicly-available build of RimWorld to see how romantic interactions are determined. For the sake of non-coders among us, longer sections are presented in pseudocode that tells you what it does, without requiring you to be fluent in C#.

To be clear, the anecdote I’ve described above is not a unique scenario in RimWorld. The current top-rated post of all time on the RimWorld subreddit is a user asking for “strategies to deal with attractive lesbians”. Additionally, an earlier decompilation of the game, summarizing how RimWorld models romantic behaviour, was a pretty good indicator that the answer to Reed’s dilemma lay somewhere in the game’s source code.

So why were Reed’s fellow survivors constantly hitting on her? The answer lies, partially, in how romance attempts are calculated differently for male and female “pawns”, the game’s term for all the colonists you control. All pawns start out with a base chance of turning any social interaction into a romance attempt, and a minimum threshold of attractiveness and positive opinion for this to happen. In other words, you have to actually like someone and find them attractive in order to try to start a romantic relationship with them. Things become interesting when the random chance of initiation comes in.

// Change chance of initiation based on gender of initiator  

       if(me.gender == male) {
            // no change
            initiation-chance = initiation-chance * 100%; 
        }


       if(me.gender == female) {
            // initiation chance is 12.5% of what it would be
            Initiation-chance = initiation-chance * 12.5%
        }

In other words, female pawns are about eight times less likely to try and start a romantic relationship. Granted, this is not the only factor – other elements include presence or absence of an existing romantic partner, and how they feel about said partner. However, this single check on gender has such a profound effect that it makes female-initiated romance attempts incredibly rare. Notice that neither a history of rebuffals nor the presence of the “gay” trait in the recipient are factored in, which would explain why they won’t stop. This behaviour is one-way, though. Reed doesn’t hit on them, not because she’s female, but because she finds them unattractive.

So how is attractiveness actually calculated? For both male and female pawns, attractiveness rests on a few variables: the genders of the initiator and the recipient, the sexual orientation of the initiator, the beauty of the recipient, age, and physical ability.

Before going into gender-specific differences, let’s first look at some universal variables..

// In the rest of the function, multiply attractiveness with the factors for:
// Talking, moving, and manipulation efficiency (penalty for pawns with disabilities)
// Bonus or penalty for attractiveness traits (ugly = 30% as likely, beautiful = 230% as likely)
// Additional age factor for people between 15 and 18else if(me.gender == female) {
// Enforce sexual orientation for gay women

        if(me.orientation == gay and them.gender == male) {
            // zero attractiveness, no matter what
            return 0.0;
        }
        // And for non-gay women
        if(me.orientation == straight and them.gender == female) {
            // Only 15% as strong as it would otherwise be
            attractiveness = attractiveness * 15%;
        }

There are no straight women in RimWorld, as in, there are no women only attracted to men. Instead, every single non-gay woman in the game has some chance of being attracted to another woman. As for the men, it works a little differently.

// Calculate the perceived attractiveness (between 0.0 and 1.0) of them, to me

    float calculate_attractiveness(Pawn me, Pawn them) {
    float attractiveness = 0.0;


    if(me.gender == male) {


        // Enforce sexual orientation for male pawns
        if(me.orientation == gay and them.gender == female) {
            // zero attractiveness, no matter what
            return 0.0; 
        }
        if(me.orientation == straight and them.gender == male) {
            // zero attractiveness, no matter what
            return 0.0;
        }

Notice that there’s only two possible orientations for men, gay or straight. In RimWorld, there are no bisexual men, only gay or straight men; there are no straight women, only gay or bisexual women.

Lastly, we move on to the most complicated part of this, age-based attraction. These are hard to visualize just by reading the code, so here they are in diagram form.

In RimWorld, male pawns will always find pawns between 20 and their own age attractive. If the male pawn in question is under 20, that doesn’t make a difference – because it’ll check the “lower” bound first, they’re guaranteed to find a 20-year-old attractive. This explains why Rob (age 32) and Boots (age 17) keep trying to ask out Reed (age 23). But, since the same code doesn’t check for relative age, 17-year-old Boots wouldn’t actually find a fellow 17-year-old teenager all that attractive. There’s also a minimum age for attraction, 16 years old, and a maximum age, any pawn 15 years older than themselves. So in this case, Boots wouldn’t find any woman over the age of 32, or any woman under age 16, attractive.

On the other hand, women overwhelmingly prefer partners older than them. And, unlike for men, there’s no firm cutoff for pawns that are “too old”: even pawns 40 years older than the woman in question have a chance of being perceived as attractive. Contrast this to the calculation for men, where pawns 15 years older than them have absolutely no chance.

In summary:

  • Men are about eight times as likely as women to try and start a romance.
  • Pawns with disabilities will always be found less attractive.
  • Beautiful pawns are always considered vastly more attractive; ugly pawns, vastly less. Physical beauty is the only trait that governs attractiveness, aside from sexual orientation.
  • Straight men always find men unattractive. Gay men always find women unattractive. There are no bisexual men.
  • Women may find women attractive. Gay women always find men unattractive. There are only bisexual or gay women.
  • All men consider partners aged 20 to their own age most attractive. If they’re under 20, they’ll find pawns 20 or over most attractive, with no regard for pawns that are a similar age to them.
  • All women consider partners the same age and older most attractive. Partners slightly younger than themselves are very unattractive, and partners that are 10 years younger than them are always considered unattractive.
  • All men consider any pawn 15 years older than themselves to be unattractive.
  • There is no “old age” cutoff for women. No matter how much older a partner is, women have some chance of finding them attractive.

Now, RimWorld is not finished. It’s a game that’s still under constant development, and so this relationship system might well continue to develop and change. On top of that, the various numbers thrown into these governing formulae might well be there because of a late night, or as placeholders, or just to try and make the systems work. In other words, there might not be any specific commentary on or interpretation of gender roles behind this, malicious or otherwise. Any game system that tries to represent or model complicated real-world scenarios necessarily has to make abstractions and sacrifices, and human relationships might be one of the most complicated things you could possibly portray.

But we are not analyzing RimWorld on the basis of what it might be in the future. The question we’re asking is, “what are the stories that RimWorld is already telling?” Yes, making a game is a lot of work, and maybe these numbers were just thrown in without too much thought as to how they’d influence the game. But what kind of system is being designed, that in order to ‘just make it work’, you wind up with a system where there will never be bisexual men? Or where all women, across the board, are eight times less likely to initiate romance?

On top of that, what RimWorld doesn’t model is as important as what it does. Remember how constantly being hit on and rebuffing people doesn’t lead to a mood penalty, only a reduced opinion of the person pursuing? In daily life, the feeling of having to constantly turn people down is not a nice feeling. But these negative feelings are only reflected mechanically for those being rejected, and because of the way romance initiation is handled, you end up having to cater for the sad rejected men, rather than the women who are always having to turn away these unwanted encounters.

We could label that behaviour a bug, perhaps. But those are just the surface symptoms. Those are the easily-noticed, in-game consequences of a system whose base structure has literally encoded assumptions about how men and women operate. Now, representation is a tricky subject, and we will probably never create a perfect model of romantic behaviour.

But the problem with this model isn’t that it’s flawed. It’s that it’s flawed in a way that perfectly mirrors existing sexist expectations of romance, with such specificity that it is hard to view it as unintentional . And if it is unintentional it is on us to ask what this system is trying to show. What are the possibilities that it allows? What is RimWorld setting as the boundaries of possibility?

Decompiling the source code provides a very clear look at how these gender differences were written into the game. However, it’s not something that’s intuitive to grasp just by playing the game. At the same time, this is a system that has an enormous impact on how you play, because one of the key challenges in RimWorld is keeping your colonists happy. Code is never neutral. All of these coded structures push a particular scenario over others, and most of the time this is fairly benign. However, this does not mean that it should escape scrutiny, because we can end up uncritically coding in harmful assumptions, which ultimately means we are constraining what our games could be while also alienating other players.

As for Reed, things have gotten a little better. Other women have joined the colony, and one of them, nineteen-year-old Roughchild, has gotten engaged to Rob. Reed’s on better terms with Rob, now that he’s spending time with his fiancee instead of constantly trying to get with her. Everyone still adores her, of course, because she’s beautiful; everyone still talks to her, and Boots is still making passes at her. But the feeling is never mutual.

Editor’s note: The developer was contacted for interview as part of this article, but declined to take part unless we ceded editorial control over the publishing of that interview. We do not cede editorial control to developers or interview subjects and so no interview took place. The developer has left a response below in the comments and here on Reddit. We stand by the accuracy of the article entirely.

691 Comments

Top comments

  1. Premium User Badge

    Graham Smith says:

    The developer was contacted for comment but refused to participate in an interview unless we ceded editorial control. I wasn't willing to do that.

    FWIW, I personally think RimWorld is great, we've written many positive articles about it, and I don't think this cancels out the game's positive qualities. But I also don't think that being in early access or unfinished means that you can't analyse and criticise the explicit and implicit statements a game is making through its design. As long as it's publicly available - and especially it's for sale - I think it's fair to critique.
  2. TynanSylvester says:

    I'm the developer of RimWorld.

    The author of this anger-farming hit piece did email me asking if she could ask me some questions. However, she wanted to edit my responses. When I said I'd be willing to answer questions, but not if the responses were edited, she went silent. I guess she wasn't willing to print the other side of the story if she didn't have the power to edit it.

    There's also some blatant lying in this article, where the author pretends not to know things that I specifically told her.

    For example, Claudia wrote: "It’s a game that’s still under constant development, and so this relationship system might well continue to develop and change. On top of that, the various numbers thrown into these governing formulae might well be there because of a late night, or as placeholders, or just to try and make the systems work."

    However, in my email response I said, "You should be aware that there are some bugs in the relationship system in Alpha 15 that are already reported and fixed for Alpha 16. So you're analyzing a broken system :/ Also, this system is just something slammed together to get the game working in a basic way. It's just barely functional enough to fill its role. It's never been intended as any kind of accurate or even reasonable simulation of the real thing."

    So she knows for a fact that the system as it works has known bugs, already fixed. She knows for a fact that it's very rough. Yet she insists on presenting this as some sort of "might well be" theory as though she has no more information.

    ---

    Now onto the 'journalism'. The way this is written is disgusting. There's no attempt to get an explanation or understanding of why the code works as it does. The decision was specifically made to not ask me any question, or understand why these decisions were made, or comprehend the research or meaning behind them. It's purely written in the style of a witch hunt - point at the heretic, maliciously misinterpret everything in the most moralistic, angry way possible, and harvest the resulting anger for clicks.

    I saw it coming a mile away, which is why I wanted my words to be printed unedited.

    Is this journalism? No, because it doesn't make the minimal effort to get or present the truth fairly.

    Is it opinion? No, it's not an editorial.

    It's anger-farming, combined with a moralistic witch hunt. It's the worst kind of click-bait - they type that generates anger on purpose, where none needed to exist, in a community that was perfectly at peace beforehand.

    Notice how it specifically skirts as close to calling me a "malicious" person as possible without actually making the claim.

    ---

    The truth of this system is that it is very rough, and that it's based on research and discussions with various people. I'd be willing to talk about these things, in the context of an honest discussion of hows and whys. This is not that, so I'm not going to try to justify every part of this here.

    I will, however, quote a discussion I had with another user who contacted me about this, so we can all see an example of what an honest discussion looks like. Here it is:

    *** FROM USER

    So I'm sure you've seen it discussed extensively that gay colonists need some tweaks, from a game balance perspective. The community generally agrees that advances between colonists of incompatible sexualities should be decreased, so they would stop getting "rebuffed" mood penalties needlessly.
    This isn't particularly urgent in my opinion, since there are (as usual in Rimworld) some creative and questionably moral ways to get around this. I've expressed my opinions, and you can react however you please; it's your game. But if you're already planning on changing the code for romancing/sexuality, I have a few things to request:
    First off, I'm bi, and no colonists are bisexual in Rimworld. It would nice to get some representation, blah blah blah... In truth this isn't a big deal to me personally, I just thought I might bring it to your attention that we exist.
    Now, one thing that really does bother me, both from a game-balance and "political" point of view, is a conclusion drawn from this thread: "set a value that multiplies attractiveness by 0.15 at the end, then keep going. That's right - women are always a little bit bi." If neither gender had this multiplier, I would write it off as you not wanting to overcomplicate game mechanics (not that you need to or seem to feel the need to). If both did, I don't think anyone would have a problem. It could even be a minor workaround fix for the current complaints, allowing gay colonists to have a small chance to succeed in their advances on straight ones.
    But at the risk of calling your opinions invalid (not my intent) I have to insist that being "bi-curious" is not asymmetrical between genders, as you seem to imply in this code. I'm not going to tell you how to make your game, and I certainly have no intentions of telling you how to think, but I just wanted to express my opinion as an admiring member of your game's community. Overall you've created something great that a lot of people enjoy.
    ***
    Hi there, thanks for the mail.
    I think bi-curiosity is quite asymmetrical between sexes. I've developed this view from research, and it also aligns with what I've observed personally.
    Research: http://www.advocate.com/bisexuality/2015/08/26/study-women-are-more-likely-be-bisexual-men
    The above study indicates that a larger proportion of women who identify as straight are bi-curious or have engaged in bisexual behavior.
    Research: http://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/wp-content/uploads/Gates-How-Many-People-LGBT-Apr-2011.pdf
    The above paper indicates (on page 6 specifically) that of people who identify as gay/lesbian/bi, the proportion of bi among women is about double the proportion of bi men.
    And personal observations: I've known some bi women and a large proportion of the nominally straight women I've known have discussed bi impulses or experiences they've had. In contrast, every bi man I've ever known has ultimately ended up identifying as gay. These patterns seem to apply even in very gay-friendly social contexts.
    Of course I'm sure bi/bi-curious men exist, but the research and what I've seen supports the conclusion that they're rarer than bi women. Conversely, gay women seem to be rarer than gay men.
    Nor am I an expert in all this; the game simply attempts a very rough approximation of some patterns from real life. In truth I never did a full analysis of every possible situation this code could run into. I'm sure various numbers are wrong. But, it's functional and gets the job done.
    In truth I hate these discussions because there's really no way to reach agreement. So I don't ask you to agree with me necessarily, only to understand why I would make these choices given the research and observations I've found.
    Best
    Ty
    ***
    Wow, thanks for this great reply! I think you should post an explanation like this somewhere public. (Maybe you did, and I missed it) I'm sure people like me would appreciate that you put a lot of thought into this, rather than just basing it on stereotype. That was my biggest concern, honestly. This is great!
    But the other burning question - just because I'm curious: Are you planning on tweaking the code? The "dealing with attractive lesbians" thread is actually the highest scoring one of all time in /r/rimworld, heh. No judgement either way, I'm just wondering your thoughts on the functionality of it. Thanks again!
    ***
    Sadly these discussions, had in public, have a tendency to attract people that enjoy conflict. So I choose to just try to do something reasonable (that I can explain if ultimately necessary), but not to put out justifications for it because they'd be bait for any Internet flame-wars. Because you know no matter what I say some people will hate it - and some of those might hate it a lot, and I just have better things to do than deal with that. It's a sad thing about the Net.
    As for the lesbians, I added a "gaydar" factor so colonists will be less likely to attempt romance with others of non-matching orientation. That was easy - just something I didn't think to add before. Of course awkward interactions will still happen, just not so constantly and repeatedly, because that made little sense and screwed up the balance.
    Best Ty
  1. SuddenSight says:

    Thanks for writing this! This sort of critique is exactly what we need more of in video games. Hope we get more of Claudia Lo on RPS.

    The talk concerning bisexuality reminds me of Jim Sterling’s video on polyamory in Fallout.

    On a more personal note, though the conversation has focused on bi/gay orientation I actually find myself most annoyed by the age-attractiveness rules. I am a barely 25 year old male and I would not want to date a 20 year old woman, but I would have no trouble dating a 30 year old woman. Age preference, like many other preferences, vary.

    Which also saddens me that in a game based on the traits of individuals that the rules of attraction would not only reinforce outdated stereotypes, but that they would be the same for everyone.

    Anyway, thanks for the analysis and nice graphs! Happy to be a supporter.

  2. Roest says:

    This article is utter trash. I hope we never see anything by Claudia Lo again. I’m pretty angry right now to see this piece of garbage published on a site a visit every day. It’s not about opinion, it’s a witch hunt over some lines of code to destroy the single developer of an excellent indie game. You people, the author and anyone who allowed this to be published here, fell to a new low in journalism. Well I wouldn’t call this journalism at all.

    • ABen says:

      Not to call you out specifically (since I’ve seen it a lot in other comments), but I don’t see anywhere in this article where Claudia says not to buy the game based on this issue, or that people who bought RimWorld are bad people or anything like that. It’s an analysis of a single system within the game, and how it reinforces certain stereotypes.

      As I said earlier, you can love a game (I have ~40+ hrs in RimWorld myself,and it’s not like I’ll stop playing it) and still think a system is poorly implemented, or be uncomfortable with certain aspects of a game.

      I realize that it’s the internet and there’s no room for nuance, but one of the great things about the games market maturing is that it allows for more nuanced criticism like this, rather than simply “should I play this y/n and 7/10”.

      Again, not directed at you specifically, but more of a general comment on a opinion expressed repeatedly here.

      • Roest says:

        I don’t even own the game. I agree with the developer though, this is a hit piece by a person with a very obvious agenda. Why RPS published it, as they supposedly like Rimworld remains a mystery. Only explanation is that controversy creates clicks.

        Imagine for a second you’re him and you wake up some day to find out a major gaming website published an article depicting you as male sexist pig that lives his fantasy of 1950s gender roles. He single handedly created a good game, from what I read, did nice communication work with his community and one day some bottom feeding “journalist” decides to destroy him over maybe 10 lines of code. In fact I feel for him that after writing this I gonna click buy on steam.

        This article is bad. It is uncalled for and it tarnishes the reputation of a site I thought was decent. Where does it stop now? Can we ask at every review if they decompiled the code to verify that every character can be straight, gay or be?

        • Premium User Badge

          FhnuZoag says:

          Imagine for a second you are *her* and you write an article the discusses and criticises one small aspect of a game that you are playing and enjoying and you get hundreds of people shitting on you and assuming you are trying to destroy a man for some vague ‘agenda’.

          • Ulminati says:

            Allow me to illustrate how the internet works for you: link to i1.kym-cdn.com

            If you give your opinion, people will give theirs back. If 2 people support you and 98 say you’re wrong in differing degrees of politeness, odds are you said something most people think is untrue.

          • GeoX says:

            You liked to something called “AntiFem Comics.” Awesome. Clearly, you’re a person everyone should take seriously.

          • Ulminati says:

            You read a line of text in the upper right and immediately discard everything else as irrelevant. That does not speak highly of your ability to take critique.

            See how that works? Like in the comic, there’s a giant wall on the internet that seperates us. We are all equal in the eyes of the internet. We are only judged by whatever we choose to fling over the wall. I do not care one whit whether you identify as a man, a woman, an otherkin or an attack helicopter. But your immediate dismissal based on the first word that offended you speaks volumes.

          • Premium User Badge

            Cooper says:

            @Ulminati: Voiciferousness on the internet =!= majority opinion.

            For every nasty arsehole who will tell someone their opinion is ‘wrong’ and they should take their agenda elsewhere there may be many more who silently agree.

        • ABen says:

          I can see what you’re saying, and I agree that it was probably not a very fun morning for Tynan.

          However, Claudia goes out of her way to not attack the developer directly. She points to systems – not the developer himself – that reflect what she considers to be an incorrect model of sexuality. There is nothing in the article that strikes me as being false, or misrepresentative of the product. The code is there, Tynan gave it some thought (though he’s going to update it, so clearly he doesn’t think it’s perfect). She doesn’t say that no one should buy or play the game.

          Furthermore, Tynan was given the opportunity to comment for the article. He requested editorial control of his responses, which very few critical journalists would give. I think RPS should have stated that earlier, but they did their journalistic duty by requesting comment.

          I do think that some of the commentators here are overreacting by saying they won’t buy or support the game. That’s fine, that’s their prerogative based on the information. I disagree with a lot of Tynan’s political views, but he made a good game, and that’s what counts.

          People will still buy the game, they’ll still play it, though maybe slightly fewer than before. It’s still a great game. Tynan is not “destroyed”.

          Lastly, if you like these types of construction/group survival games, I would highly recommend RimWorld – it’s basically Dwarf Fortress but with a UI I can actually stand. :)

          • leafdot says:

            Very sensible reaction. :) I know I’m late to the party on this, but while the system is worryingly backwards (not very scifi, at the very least, leaving aside the accuracy of the dev’s cited research [which I strongly suspect represent social norms more than they do reality]), the developer’s response, especially re: this isn’t journalism! actually bothers me more.

            Like you say, no responsible journalist would give an interviewee editorial control, and nothing in this article is false. It’s doing exactly what good journalism does: it is pointing to a reality that could be of concern to people.

            We live in very strange times when basic reportage can be called a hit piece or whatever.

            Also: it was a series of very entertaining RPS articles that prompted me to buy this game. So, to the developer: perspective, sir!

  3. Moth Bones says:

    The only thing in this fascinating article that could be regarded as ‘hit piece’ is the misleading headline, which RPS should change (“relations” instead of “roles” would be an improvement).

    I play Rimworld (bought it at full price, which is very rare for me). This article doesn’t put me off playing it, but it draws attention to and elucidates something interesting (to the author, and at least some if not all readers) about its assumptions and how these are visible in the code. I’m puzzled by how various commenters (and the dev!) can interpret this as an ill thought out attack that warrants shouting back.

    At worst it’s mildly uncomplimentary about the assumptions uncovered – but the point seems to me that these are tenaciously prevalent assumptions and their tenacity is demonstrated by how they are coded in. Reminds me of when I was a kid and every single motor racing game had ‘Pole Position’ style mountains as a backdrop – I fancied that when someone made such a game the mountains were already there to start with.

    The dev’s second response is more reasoned, but his initial one gives me little hope that he has any interest in the issues raised. I think that’s a shame, but it doesn’t make it a bad game and I see nothing in the article drawing that conclusion either. The ‘attack’ seems to be mostly in people’s heads.

    • fugo says:

      or, we could give him the benefit of the doubt and raise your concerns in either the sub or the forum, both of which it’s clear the developer actively looks at and discusses things.

      there should be a benefit of the doubt until a final product is released, particually when its been made clear this is little more than placeholder code.

      this article does nothing except incite people who probably haven’t and wouldn’t buy the game to spam messages at a developer who is just one man.

      that is completely unacceptable. if a game was realeased into early access with only a male player character but with the promise of a full character craetor with multiple genders in the finished game, should you post an article saying his gender politics are terrible, or would you wait to see what the finished character creator was like before you wrote an article shaming the developer?

      • GeoX says:

        If you pay money for a game, you’re allowed to criticize it, for fuck’s sake. Especially a game like Rimworld, where the creator has explicitly said many times that it’s going to remain a work-in-progress forever or until he gets bored of it.

      • pepperfez says:

        The article doesn’t say anything about the developer; it says the game’s systems embody inaccurate, sexist stereotypes, which they pretty clearly do (strictly hetero women exist and it’s a common sexist fantasy to say they don’t). This is what art criticism does: it talks about what is actually contained in a work of art and what it means, applying the critic’s evaluative lens.

        • Moth Bones says:

          Yep, and what’s genuinely interesting is that it shows how coding can make such implicit biases explicit. He had to code in these restrictions – they weren’t already there (hence my Pole Position comparison). It’s a great piece, exactly the sort of article that makes RPS good. And saying “oh no, this is terrible” is exactly what it doesn’t do.

      • Yglorba says:

        I think it’s odd that’d you accuse the article’s well-written, insightful, and carefully-worded analysis of “inciting” people, when the reaction among people who liked it seem to be more “that’s smart and clever! I didn’t look at games like that before!”

        The people who seem furiously, groundlessly outraged here seem to be the developer’s fans – the people who don’t want to have (or allow) any sort of discussion of the implications of how games treat genders.

        (For myself, the article itself didn’t affect my opinion of the game’s developer – I assumed it was an oversight or bit of carelessness on their part. The developer’s response, though, certainly did; the wounds they’re suffering here are entirely self-inflicted.)

  4. skeletortoise says:

    I have never felt more naive than when I reached the bottom of the article thinking, “Wow, what a fascinating topic. I’ve never considered the major social implications that could be taken away from discrete coding decisions before. I wonder what RPS thought of these interesting revelations.”

    • pepperfez says:

      I’m pretty sure there’s a non-trivial population with google alerts set up for ‘gender’ or ‘women’ in video game headlines.

    • Yglorba says:

      That was my thought as well. This article was incredibly even-handed and cautious about what it said, and I thought it raised a lot of good points about the assumptions that get coded into the behavior of characters in games; if people are still flipping out at it, it’s hard to avoid feeling that they just want to avoid any discussion of gender in games at all.

      Which, well, sure! There are lots of places that don’t discuss that. But I come to RPS for sharp in-depth analysis like this, and I hope they produce a lot more of it in the future.

  5. Joriath says:

    I found the article quite interesting, and I hope the author and RPS aren’t disheartened from the large number of negative comments. My initial impression on reading the article was that it’s an inadequate mechanic, but one that the dev will get round to addressing. Critique is useful when done well – which I would class this article under.

    The Dev’s response was deeply troubling however. Not only the anger – I appreciate that criticism is difficult to take – but the fact that he referenced sources for the basis of the mechanic, implying this was a carefully thought-through decision. That to me was unacceptable. He admitted to having taken a poor tone in a later post, but has said nothing here about the mechanic itself. That is what is making me consider uninstalling the game, not the article at all.

    On the whole interview topic, from my limited experience of conducting interviews, if it were me I’d probably do the same as Graham and refuse editorial control. I’d be surprised and mildly disappointed if a request from the dev to at least view edited quotations in context were to have been denied, but that implies that such a request was even made. Given that the dev makes no mention of this, it would seem that he submitted no request.

    I truly hope RPS continues with this type of analytical article. It’s this type of work that would convince me to become a supporter.

  6. Premium User Badge

    FhnuZoag says:

    I wish the people who keep commenting on articles like this to opine hyperbolically about how they are never reading RPS again because it carries articles like this, actually never read RPS again.

    Oh well, see you guys the next time a RPS writer dares talk about something controversial.

    • KRVeale says:

      That would be wonderful.
      If only there were an option to autoblock anyone who tried flouncing away. The site would become 2000% better overnight.
      Also, has anyone noticed that it’s not the people paying to support the site who are whining about what the site should or should not be doing? Hmm.

  7. jonahcutter says:

    This is a very poor piece of journalism. It knowingly misrepresents what the situation of Rimworld’s current inner-working is. The developer apparently made it very clear what the situation actually is, yet the RPS author and editors ran with pushing their agenda anyway, flat-out ignoring what they were told.

    Reading Tynan’s and Graham’s responses and interchange, it reinforces that RPS is very often just plain bad at journalism. Generally good at doing their personal responses to games (though they have their share of lemons there too). Bad at investigating a story, dealing with the human subjects of that story and honestly laying it out for their readers. In short, they have a poor understanding of how journalism should function. Not remotely uncommon in today’s world, unfortunately.

    On the other hand, the developer comes across as having clearly seen they had an agenda and were unwilling to work with him to tell the actual story. Thus he took the proper steps to protect himself from unwarranted attack.

    Another self-inflicted journalistic black eye for RPS.

  8. Premium User Badge

    Dez says:

    Taking a different perspective: I did like that the author explained the mathematics behind why certain game behaviour works the way it does. As a technical person, I would be in favour of more RPS articles containing code analysis and mathematical analysis of various game systems, complete with code and formula snippets.

    I’ll leave any social and political comments to those who’ve already posted; I bet all those bases are covered.

  9. Xorte says:

    This is pathetic… why didn’t you focus and highlight on how the code allows both male and female characters to cook, clean, fight, doctor, construct, etc.. equally? or how about how gay orientation even exists in the game as compared to many other games which totally ignore it?

    Some people here could really benefit from living in ‘rougher’ parts of the world for a bit to see how things really are out there… it might instill some temperance.

    p.s. I really love how the tiny Dev team has included a vegetarian play-style option in the game!

    • Joriath says:

      Perhaps because it’s 2016 and those the presence of those things in games should be expected, not applauded.

      • Xorte says:

        You’re right it’s 2016, the eradication of women’s and gay’s oppression in certain parts of the world should be expected, not applauded.

        The developer looks like a saint compared to many men in countries such as Saudi Arabia, and certainly not a sexist pig.

        • skeletortoise says:

          It’s funny, I actually had the same (general) thought, but you are being completely ridiculous. “Everything is acceptable because no one will ever be as bad as Genghis Kahn was!”

          • Xorte says:

            That’s not really what I was getting at…

            more of a “why are you going after this indie Dev guy who actually has a lot of equality in his indie game?” over some minor imperfections in his game-design. Friendships and romance literally seem like 5% of the game-play to me, the game focuses mostly on survival, base-building and fighting off enemies.

            So you are going after this guy when you could be using your energy going after far worse people in the world who treat women and gays far worse…but I guess it’s a lot easier to do.

  10. Distec says:

    I guess we’re all super fired up that developers aren’t 100% accurately modelling peoples’ preferred gender theories with their video game abstractions.

    You’d have to be really naive or dishonest if you think pieces like this with all their implied accusations at the developer – even if it does couch itself in CYA statements like “but we don’t know if he’s actually a retrograde” – passes for quality reporting. Doubly so if you think catchy article titles about “strict gender roles” and other bullshit don’t have the potential to harm him and his livelihood, and that he shouldn’t be upset about this kind of framing. You know full well what kind of controversy this is directly playing to, and I seriously don’t appreciate the lack of tact displayed by the author.

    I’m not saying this topic is off-limits for discussion. But what kind of bubble are you living in, where you think pieces like this are just perfectly fine

    I think RPS is typically better than this. But I honestly don’t know how you pick your guest writers. The most embarrassing pieces over the last year seem to have come from them.

  11. TynanSylvester says:

    This Reddit thread clears up some of the misconceptions and untrue notions presented in this article.

    link to reddit.com

    • Premium User Badge

      Nauallis says:

      Thanks! Nice write-up. Now I know you’re a cannibal too. :P

    • Abaddon2020 says:

      So wait… am I reading this right? What she’s presenting as code straight from the game actually includes comments and variable names she added herself?

      I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt that this was just an oversight – but they really should edit the article to disclose this fact. As it stands it’s rather misleading.

      • claudia.lo says:

        I’ve been quite upfront about calling it pseudocode. It’s in the end of paragraph four.

        If you would like to check my work by decompiling the game yourself, I left a comment on my method somewhere back on the first page of comments. If you search for “decompile” it should show up!

  12. sairas says:

    Actually, it’s about ethics in ga… no, wait.

    Actually, I just wanted to thank Claudia Lo and Rps for one of the more interesting articles in the genre I’ve read in a long time, together with some great added insights in the comments – including the wildly hostile reaction from the developer (and excluding the usual anti-intellectual media-conspiracy trolls). I love Rimworld and can only hope the dev, when he takes a step back, can see the great potential is this critique instead of taking it as a personal insult.

    • pepperfez says:

      I’m sure he recognizes its tremendous potential as the subject of a hysterical article on Breitbart.

    • Ephant says:

      Be honest: Did you notice any of this? No, then what’s the problem?

    • batraz says:

      I think you are anti intellectual… You see how deep is the misunderstanding. What’s saddening is the fact that a whole generation mistakes some sort of loosely assembled religion for science. I mean, I even think you are mostly right to stand for the weak, but the tone and the will to dominate shows and undermines it all. So please, don’t assume people offended by that kind of ideology are not educated. You might be surprised.

  13. redplanet says:

    Thanks for this article. This is exactly what I come to RPS for!

  14. Premium User Badge

    jssebastian says:

    Great article! really interesting. A whole new twist on the topic of “algorithmic discrimination”, where algorithms that affect people’s life in real world (insurance rates, credit ratings, likelyhood-to-reoffend…) embed biases either in the algorithm itself or in the datasets they are trained on.

    It’s clear that the developer embedded some of his biases into his game’s treatment of relationships. Nor should he be crucified for it! It’s hard *not* to embed our own biases in any world we create, whether it’s a game or any other kind of art form where we are building a world. But I think becoming aware of our own biases and openly discussing them with others can be a positive step both as human beings and as creators of art.

    Finally, I have not played this game, I don’t know if I will or not. But if not for RPS’s mostly positive coverage, I would never have heard of it, so chances I would play it would have been much slimmer if I were not reading this site.

  15. Yglorba says:

    Thanks for this article. I thought it was balanced and well-written; this is the kind of analysis I come to RPS to see.

    The most head-desky part of the issue for me is the game’s assumption that the author’s personal feelings about how modern-day gender roles work will continue to be applicable in the future the game takes place in. The argument “well, that’s just how it is“, while it would be hard to defend for even a modern-day game, are completely silly when applied to a sci-fi one like this; research absolutely does not support the idea that gender roles in romance are this immutable unchanging thing. In fact, they’ve changed drastically just over the past few decades!

  16. S.Belmont says:

    New low.. headdesk

    one man dev target of flamebait.
    news at eleven..
    why not EA or Bethesda..?
    Rimworld still in early acces. FFS…

  17. Archangel says:

    Thanks for participating in the discussion, Tynan. Thanks for being human, for listening, for doing your research in the first place, and for making what is shaping up to be a phenomenal game. RimWorld has been on my buy-on-release wishlist since its very first RPS article, but it just shot up a fair number of places due to your efforts here. I look forward to playing!

    (Edited to add: Seriously, everyone — read the reddit thread, posted above.)

  18. GHXX says:

    Sounds like a nice story, you seem really creative, but honestly, who created that code? In the first snippet there are 5 errors, some of them repeat which makes 11 in total, in one snippet. Also you are missing some important checks. Another thing is that this cant be decompiled code.In short: THIS IS NO GAME CODE! okay, now onto the next fake snippet:
    11 errors and maybe an issue because not every code path returns a value…
    And seriously, why would you even paste code that’s not complete?
    Here comes the best part:

    Lastly, we move on to the most complicated part of this, age-based attraction. These are hard to visualize just by reading the code, so here they are in diagram form.

    Yeah, that’s what I figured too, that code wont even compile anyways.

    Creativity is nice, but it hasn’t much to do with good journalism,
    greetings,
    GHXX, a Rimworld Modder

  19. Arglebargle says:

    RPS screwed up with this one. If you didn’t know this was going to be contentious, you were foolish. Just look at the number of comments.

    Making assumptions about the code in an early access game: Mishandling the attempt to interview the game designer: Fitting the narrative into your particular Procrustean Bed of gender analysis: When you do this sort of thing, you should have all your bases covered. This was not a good job of it.

    • pepperfez says:

      What assumptions? The discussion is of what is literally contained in the code. If you can’t talk about that, what part of a game can you talk about?

      • KRVeale says:

        I’m guessing framerates and the other such mimbling jargon that seems to be relevant to Objective Games Reviews.

  20. El_Emmental says:

    This is the pathological liar all over again, geez. I hope the staff at least is getting some hits out of it, because it’s sure as hell isn’t improving their credibility.

    Also, funny to see there’s still a few activists of all sides trying to butt in their diatribe ad nauseam. Never give up!

    _ What happened? _

    So… the sole developer of a tiny indie game set up a makeshift system for relationships in an alpha version (note: alpha versions come before beta versions, and are by definition not feature complete, let alone balance or accuracy complete – so all the values and system can and will be modified throughout the remaining months or years of development), looked up some studies and brought it up in conversations with various people in his surrounding for the first draft, released it to encounter the first main bugs and adjust the system accordingly.

    Then a writer (or a friend of the writer) lurking the reddit for RimWorld found the “Strategies for dealing with attractive lesbians?” thread, with its title and text written exactly in the way /r/ShitDwarfFortressSays/ entries are worded, for humorous purpose. What a funny angle to start the topic, isn’t it? Then looking at the open source of the code, the values of various parameters could be found. Interesting so far.

    According to the writer and some comments, some of the values and systems are inaccurate, as per alleged (but so far not sourced) statistics for 2010s western societies. We’re dealing with a game set in 5500 on a different planet, mind.

    But rather than finding the most reliable studies, even the ones not agreeing with one’s own initial beliefs, and getting in touch with the developer to see where they are coming from (ideology? other group of studies? initial incomplete draft? the author’s independent choices for its work of fiction?) and exchange each other’s findings and arguments – in an interview/discussion for example (with unedited answers) – the writer decided to use the situation as an opportunity to drum up anger. And it worked tremendously well, as we can see in the comments here and elsewhere on social media.

    We could attribute such decision to malice, or more subtly plant the seed of a harmful and lingering doubt, like it is done in the article, but I personally believe this is not the case here, or at least not consciously. The decision to publish it comes from two motives:
    – originality of the subject (game code)
    – the negative and destructive emotion that are anger and disgust (clearly visible in the comments and on other platforms) spreads like wildfire online and attract a larger audience

    If this was an actual discussion, with a calm and civil exchanges of ideas and thought, it would end up like a Gamasutra article left in the dusty corner of the website: taking days to pick up some hits, because the readership would be people taking the time to read and compare, share and discuss. It would only start getting noticed once a few prominent bloggers would refer to it in their own subsequent articles a week or two later, while covering a similar topic.

    No such thing here, but a pre-formatted for social media passive-aggressiveness: not actively expressing the underlying emotions behind the words, so the people are enticed to express it themselves on twitter, on facebook, on reddit, on their blogs and tumblr, in the comments here and in other news entries (with all the copy-paste clones soon popping up on competitors’ websites), to finally release that frustration of not having the words said loud and clear. [more in an answer to that initial comment]

    _ You Spin Me Round _

    Speaking of which, I had a hearty good laugh when reading the staff answer with the “editorial control” argument. A sublime choice of word! I didn’t expected a lesser wordcraft from such experienced writer. Hats off on this one, this is an excellent PR wording.

    Really, let’s just look at it:
    – the person being passive-aggressively accused, in front of hundreds of thousands of people, of forcing retrograde gender roles in his game, is only asking for *his answers* to not be altered, to not twist his words on such a sensitive subject.
    – the “journalist” then cut off communication, refusing to communicate on the reason of this silence, or what is happening.
    – the words of the person being passive-aggressively accused are then simply completely ignored in the article, as if nothing happened.
    – after being called out by the readers for laying down such accusations without even getting a single word out of the accused person, one of the main editor-in-chief not only refuses to add the answers of the accused (1), he also refuses to admit any error in the way the situation was handled (2), but use that as an opportunity to lay down an additional accusation of editorial control (censorship!) attempt (3). This is fantastic.

    Such skill would do wonder in politics, this is the most brilliant example of PR fighting I’ve seen in a while: the best defense is always counter-attacking hard and fast, and every opportunity to counter-attack should be taken, E-V-E-R-Y SINGLE ONE.

    Even, or I would dare say especially, if your target is not involved in the initial “attack”, remaining unaware and logically unprepared to endure the counter-attack. You can forget about your footballers diving, lawyers spinning adjectives around, or slow political counter-fires – this is the real stuff.

    _ Let’s look at the code _

    Now, onto that extraordinary journalism integrity. In practically all the code of conduct of journalists organizations around the world, is clearly mentioned the right of reply, as a crucial element of accuracy. Many nations have this right directly in their laws, as well as regional organization such as the Council of Europe (Treaty of London, 1949).

    The only thing preventing the UK from getting a legal right of reply have always been the worst of the worst tabloids blocking the legislation, preferring the libel law to do the job: better pay a sum behind closed doors, than admit any wrongdoing to the readers.

    I was under the impression that RPS would swim in clearer waters than the ones used by outlets throwing mud at celebrities, destroying their lives for a profit. Was I mistaken?

    _ Social (In)Justice _

    That being said, there is another interesting thing about this situation. The author of the article, in all good and commendable faith, is denouncing a form of injustice.

    But in doing so, the writer-judge accidentally denounces something else: the core principle of fundamental justice, which is audi alteram partem (let the other side be heard). It is found in every single legal system around the world, including religious laws. Yet it is lacking here.

    It not only undermines the entire judgement here, but it also promotes a form of justice that is suddenly ‘liberated’ from all the rights and procedures necessary to provide due process. Unencumbered with the requirements of a fair treatment, we could be delivering so much justice… right?

    The problem here is that such insufficiency distorts and corrupts the original intent: without the core principles of equity, is it still justice? Aren’t we instead savoring a form of aimless vengeance about the wrongs of this world?

    I understand the immense frustration coming from experiencing and seeing injustice all around us, but I can not endorse such a destructive interpretation of a poisoned justice made of vengeance. Momentarily relieving our pain shouldn’t come at the cost of even more suffering around us, there is no justification for additional harm – even if the Internet is all about that nowadays, short rapid symptomatic treatment of our dolours no matter the consequences for others, rather than a tiresome and difficult work on the original causes of our torments.

    _ Return On Investment _

    I’m a little concerned though, about the efficiency of such approach. Are we really getting enough relief from these witch hunts? The lives of people destroyed by it put aside, I still fail to see any significant improvement of the quality of life of the audience. Is it really worth it, or are we even wasting our time, on top on ruining the lives of our “collateral damages”?

    _ Let the games begin _

    But let’s forget about efficiency, equity or integrity for a minute, and let’s focus on what really matters: panem et circenses. We’re in the era of infotainment after all.

    Is it that entertaining for us? Watching isolated people helplessly trying to defend themselves against a swarm of accusations spreading on social media, struggling to find the right words, being crushed under the weight of the mob. A lovely sight of “justice” of the people, where we destroy Evil, over and over again in the same ceremony.

    Is this the new credo of the website, catching a prey, bringing it in the arena, then relishing on its despair attempt at surviving the encounter, while the crowd cheers?

    The sadism is refreshing, but what are we going to do with the consequences, wait for a tragic ending? Or a costly settlement?

    • El_Emmental says:

      _ On the bait-and-denial trick _

      It’s a fantastic maneuver now used by all the ‘tabloid’ websites, forcing people to just blast away insults and accusations in the comments and on social media, to relieve the stress they built up by reading these ‘articles’.

      The Trump campaign has been extremely good at this method, getting people to let their inner anger and disgust out, by making the first few steps then forcing the audience to do the rest and say the words that would cause a lawsuit if the outlet was publishing them itself.

      Pretty much like building up the addiction, then satisfying it with a smoke break – we build up frustration by reading terrible stories about injustice, then the media platforms refuses, on purpose, to take a stance and express a clear and detailed opinion (to avoid having to defend it and remain consistent over the long term).

      It is very clever, because it allows people of very different opinions to all express their anger and disgust in public, while never having their personal opinion collide with other people’s arguments, because only the raw emotion is expressed to ease the frustration. No one is debating the causes and solutions, the only thing expressed there is “the bastards! they ruin everything!”.

      _

      I very much encourage you to try this method in casual conversation with people around you, at the work place, at home or at the pub. Pick a subject, describe how terrible things are in a situation (could be war, road accident, flooding, economic downturn, criminality, etc), but never ever hint at analysis, arguments, different solutions, only barely start expression your emotions then stop like if you weren’t allowed to speak.

      People will feel obligated to show empathy to fill up that role and reinforce their social standing, helping everyone return to a balanced state of mind that ignores the problems around them.

      Meanwhile, anyone trying to bring in thoughts and reflection will be perceived as a sociopath and a harbinger of bad news, twisting the knife in the wound. Respond to such attempts at rational discourse with something along the lines of “yes… but don’t you think these people suffer a lot? What if it happened to you? This is really sad they have to endure this”. Appeal to emotional empathy, shutdown any rationality. It works extremely well, only the most seasoned people with a very high social standing can force their way out of it.

      Some people do it very regularly without realizing it, but you can also do it artificially with some practice. From an outside perspective, it’s useless chatter, but within the group, it builds cohesion: we feel bad for the misery of this world together, we spend our empathy moment together.

      _

      This is what the tabloids are trying to achieve: customer retention by “sharing” strong emotions with the readers. Can be the migrants invading everything, or a poignant story about a person struggling to lift themselves out of poverty, the subject only matters to the targeted audience, not the outlet.

      And the good thing with this method is that you don’t even need the writers to be aware of that, only the editors-in-chief controlling the tone and type of articles getting in the spotlights is necessary. You know, “engaging your audience”, “raising awareness”, “reaching out”. All good advises. We’ve all been here before, the melody never changed.

      _

      It wouldn’t so depressing to see it happen to RPS, if it was still just a blog of a bunch of inexperienced friends. Lots of people run blogs to share emotions with their readers and that’s perfectly fine.

      But this is a website with experienced writers and editors, claiming to adhere to journalism, and we have hundreds of years worth of studies, guides and books about all these methods. The benefit of naivety is no longer claimable.

      When you see editors and writers saying they had no idea it would unfold like this, be assured they’re perfectly aware of what is going on, it’s their very job to know that and they have years of experience in the field. If you’re outraged, mission accomplished.

      • pepperfez says:

        Way to come through with the level-headed, agenda-free take.

  21. claudia.lo says:

    I’ve been told that the Reddit comment I linked to, the original decompilation, has since been edited. Here’s a link to a screenshot I took before writing this piece.

    • Premium User Badge

      DelrueOfDetroit says:

      The link doesn’t work, Claudia. I just get the regular ‘I’ cursor when I mouse over the red text.

  22. plasmachris says:

    Typically speaking, that is not a practice required or encouraged in most media’s SOP (i.e. letting the interviewee view a finished article). Source: have worked for several newspapers. All the same, that practice rests upon an assumption of journalistic integrity in not taking the source’s words out of context. The RPS article and the subsequent response from Graham leave me with worrisome indications that that would not have necessarily been the case here. For example, from the article:

    Editor’s note: The developer was contacted for interview as part of this article, but declined to take part unless we ceded editorial control over the publishing of that interview. We do not cede editorial control to developers or interview subjects and so no interview took place.

    I think phrasing it as “ceding editorial control” was an intentionally misleading choice of words, especially considering that he doubled down on that phrase. It was political doublespeak at it’s finest, painting RPS as taking some sort of stand against a man who wanted control of what they wrote, which “[They] do not [do].” But in fact, as was clearly discovered later, the actual initial email conversations between interviewer and interviewee seemed much more innocuous, by both Tynan and Graham’s admissions, with both stating that Tynan was worried his words would be taken out of context. There is, frankly, nothing in the world that can make them “cede editorial control.” And they know that, and should have the grace to assume their readers are smart enough to know that, and instead say something like:

    Editor’s note: The developer was contacted for interview as part of this article, but declined to take part.

    That’s what real journalists say when a source refuses comment. A statement like that implies nothing about the source’s motivations for declining, malicious or otherwise, and is the unbiased truth. Graham’s expounding could lead a reader to extrapolate all manner of sinister motivation if so inclined, and it was unneeded inclusion, without doubt. Him being an editor (who knows all of this), I can only reason that it was intentional unneeded inclusion.

    Likewise, the adding-in of developer notes and changing variable names, if true, is extremely disturbing, no matter the reason, and should have been demarcated if done at all. The fact that that wasn’t mentioned at all, well, that is not encouraged practice. They might as well be editing his words at that point. – Anonymous redditor

    Rekt. Get out.

  23. KRVeale says:

    The idea it’s unreasonable or somehow cherrypicking to look at the impacts of coded decisions is ridiculous. We’re talking pants-on-head stupid: this kind of analysis is vastly uncontroversial. Articles and books have been written about this stuff, like Persuasive Games by Ian Bogost.
    Examples:
    – In the original Sim City, reducing taxation *automatically* causes an increase in growth. That’s an ideological claim, not a neutral reflection of reality.
    – In (I think) Civilisation II, Democracy and Communism had different strengths and weaknesses, and were about the same distance down the tech tree. In Civilisation: Call to Power, Democracy was the best form of government and was impossible to improve, whereas Communism was one step above anarchy.
    – In Batman: Arkham Asylum, the game gives you neat tools for being stealthy and sneaking up on people, but you get far more XP for just walking up and punching people. In effect, open violence is encouraged over stealth by the mechanics of the game.
    – Deus Ex HR, in comparison, is more even handed with its distribution of XP. Still, (from memory) if you can knock out everyone in a level without killing them, and without ever being spotted or setting off an alarm, you get the highest XP reward possible in the game. In this case, the game reflects higher XP with challenges that require more skill to pull off.
    – The arguments about Rimworld remind me about the arguments tied to The Castle Doctrine, where it’s obvious and natural that you play a man defending his home, and whose wife is a helpless repository of wealth to be murdered or ignored. The RPS threads blew up there, too, and I’m fairly certain the creator either melted down or came off Really Badly in the threads and/or interviews.
    – Valkyria Chronicles: a game with a lot of possible tactical depth… that rewards ridiculously more XP for finishing QUICKLY, so people cheese the system ignoring its tactical depth in favour of running into machine gun fire like idiots because it can be made to work, and the mechanics encourage doing so.
    – Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines frames things so that the blood of sex workers and the homeless is less filling and, if you’re an upper crust vampire, will make you ill. They are literally “worth less” in terms of the game mechanics.

    Code is never neutral. The impact of decisions made in code and design can be discussed, and needs to be discussed.

    • batraz says:

      Ok, but you are talking fictional worlds… Nowadays, Orwell or Huxley would be accused to support totalitarism. That’s how subtle we became.

      • KRVeale says:

        a) bollocks
        b) How are Civilisation, Sim City, and Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines ‘fictional worlds’ compared to Rimworld?
        c) bollocks

  24. keek86 says:

    This article is written in bad faith. I support the developer’s views and cannot stress enough that this game is in early-access state. Gender is only one small aspect of the game and the lone developer is actively engaging with the community while improving the game. This is what matters most.

    A developer who is actively engaging with the community, as opposed to a journalist taking a narrow view and ignoring the wider aspects of community discussions. This is a sad day for journalism.

  25. MadMinstrel says:

    I’ve been reading RPS for many years now. This is the first time I’ve been so disgusted with your conduct. I don’t expect I’ll be frequenting this site again.

  26. AngoraFish says:

    Fantastic article, thanks a bunch for the interesting read. More like this please.

  27. littlestcaesar says:

    I believe that the developer can do whatever he wants with the game. He could add stupid rednecks with their cousins and there’s nothing this crying crowd could do about it. Using a product doesn’t give you privileges to make changes to it. You may ask for changes of course but getting no as an answer is common in life. Deal with it.

  28. fylth says:

    Regardless of what you may think of the developer, this article is frankly disgusting. The author has taken decompiled code, added their own variable names and comments and then presented them as damning evidence. Yes, there’s a small disclosure in paragraph four saying “For the sake of non-coders among us, longer sections are presented in pseudocode that tells you what it does, without requiring you to be fluent in C#”. No, what you’ve done is vastly misrepresent variables added to try and give the appearance of complex social structure to fit your own narrative.

  29. jplayer01 says:

    link to reddit.com

    I’m incredibly disappointed in this article which is completely unsubstantiated and based on fabrication. I don’t think I’ll be reading RPS again.

  30. Zoopy says:

    “But we are not analyzing RimWorld on the basis of what it might be in the future. The question we’re asking is, “what are the stories that RimWorld is already telling?””

    So you admit that your commenting on placeholder systems, but not content with leaving it there, you insist on spurring on outrage. Maybe instead of writing spurious anger-farming articles all day, you need to attempt a game of this scope yourself. As someone working on my own colony simulator I was shocked at the sheer amount of work that a game such as this requires. I’m working on several systems and many of them are in their most basic form just to get them in place. Even in that state each system represents weeks or months of my life and they’re still many months or even years away from being where they should be.

    Do you honestly think that when you’re implementing a hunger systems, the first thing you’re going to worry about is assigning each type of meal a nutritional value and making it as realistic as possible? The first step is laying the foundation. You’re not going to concern yourself with the low-carb debate or what the ratio of meat to veggies needs to be for each colonist.

    As an aspiring indie developer pouring most of my free time into my hobby project, I’m really disappointed to see hit-pieces such as this one are still common. They make the game development market feel really hostile. Any measure of success is directly proportional to how many mistakes you make and opportunities you present for someone to find material to write a hit piece. Honestly, are we really at a level where we’re going to criticize an alpha game for political commentary based on basic alpha game systems? And then defend that?