Rim World


I’m all for him making his game his way. If he wants a crazy sexist MRA utopia in his game, that’s his right. If people want to buy that, that’s their right. An artist’s vision is wholly theirs.

At the same time, art invites criticism, and some of that is going to be negative. That’s how it works. No one gets to create art, sell it or show it, then be immune from criticism.

Criticism, is by its nature biased, so if you don’t like someone’s criticism, that’s really too bad. I understand it sucks to pour your life into something, then have someone pop up with “But what about this bit here?” and take you to task for it. That’s fair in art.


True, and it is fair for me to criticize the journalist of this article for equating the code in this game as sexism on the creator’s part. And to generally dislike thinkpieces like this one. And to criticize the author for failing to work with the developer on getting the whole story. I think he was wise to not cooperate with this article, with how it turned out. He should have been able to have his say, but I think that part of the job as a journalist is to work with your sources and it really seems like that was not done. It is a give and take.


So much this! I would have loved that article. The article that was written was a boring hitjob, not a thoughtful investigation on simulation of gender roles.


It strikes me as more than a little disingenuous to even bring up the topic regarding what is essentially a social survival story simulation.

If the Sims had such skewed gender values maybe there’s a hint of debate to be had, but basically stranded on a savage planet where you will die kind of throws modern social norms out the window anyway. Hell I’d expect way weirder rules when there’s folks dying of bandit raids heatstroke and starvation. It’s not as if there’s cable, and a 7-11 down the road.

I’d expect this kind of shit from Polygon, but I’m sad it’s on RPS.


The algorithms behind a game - the sausage factory, so to speak… RPS has no business digging into the code to flay the developer about some simulation behavior. It was a piss poor editorial decision to publish the story without allowing him to comment inline. It’s like attacking the power companies because all the plugs are male. It would have been interesting and fair to have an interview with him as part of a developer diary and to have gender be a question in a larger interview. As is, I think RPS should retract the article and issue and apology.


I am glad I learned, thanks to this brilliant piece of work, that sexism was simply
an equation in a game (that was even vulgarized for us, mere mortals).

I bet the source code got juicy comments too!
… I am going to stop using Word, for fear of anybody digging through the history of corrections.


This is why I stopped reading RPS long ago (excepting Tim Stone’s column).


This 100x


Mr. Stone needs to schlep his way over to our side of the world, board-wise. He is like so out of place on RPS.


I think the RPS writer made several severe and unfair mistakes when writing the article, and the developer rebuked all of the criticism respectably in the reddit post. His RPS comment was quite the reaction, but understandable given that he is a sole developer and has put so much time into something that is getting unfair criticism. All creators of things have been there, and the internet makes it far too easy to vent anger before you’ve had a chance to take a deep breath.

In the meantime I will keep reading RPS as they get it right as often as they get it wrong, and my overall perspective is that there is too much effort in the modern world to sanitise and broaden the mass-market appeal of everything. The developer of Rimworld should keep doing what he’s doing and RPS should keep trying to push their agenda even if it is imperfect.


That whole RPS piece should have been a post on the dev’s forums raising potential issues about the game’s current relationship mechanics, for a game that’s still in development and where the dev is clearly still seeking community input (hence Early Access). It’s the kind of thing you might mention in a review of its current Early Access state, but an entire article about it comes across as agenda-driven.

I thought his initial response directly to RPS for an interview was fairly understandable, and that RPS didn’t do enough to compromise to get his input. For them to put a big highlighted quote implying that he was uncooperative is misleadingly biased. But yeah, it’s RPS.


I really enjoyed the RPS piece, it makes what I feel are some extremely relevant points and some of the responses both here and elsewhere on the internet highlight how gamers get irrationally upset when someone has a vision of the world isn’t exactly the same as their own. Throwing around stuff like “hit job” really doesn’t help when the article is merely someone pointing out processes in a game make them feel uncomfortable, and that perhaps that they should be revisited. “Oh it’s just a game”. Sure, it is just a game. In which case it shouldn’t matter that some is critical of it then should it?

The responses here make me feel as equally out of place as some of you find yourselves alienated by RPS. Luckily we can all live together without cracking each other over the head with a crowbar.


Really, I mean really enjoyed it. It’s a poor piece but I suppose as long as it finds some fans it give it a justifiable reason to put it out there.

I feel for the guy, no matter what way he did it someone somewhere would be up in arms, it’s good old Hobson’s choice really.


[quote=“moss_icon, post:253, topic:73715”]… it makes what I feel are some extremely relevant points and some of the responses both here and elsewhere on the internet highlight how gamers get irrationally upset when someone has a vision of the world isn’t exactly the same as their own. Throwing around stuff like “hit job” really doesn’t help when the article is merely someone pointing out processes in a game make them feel uncomfortable, and that perhaps that they should be revisited.

At risk of revisiting the whole gamergate thing (which I successfully avoided being drawn into the first time around), the content of the article isn’t what irked me here. I found the subject matter interesting, even compelling and he tone was about as even-keeled as one could ask for. Two components irked me (the caveat here is that both of my irks come from a position of ignorance, so if anyone has knowledge relevant here, please enlighten me).

  1. The editor’s disclaimer at the end stating that they had reached out to the developer for an interview but that the developer demanded editorial control of the interview. While it’s a one-sided story, I’m not sure that’s quite the same as what the developer later described. It’s certainly out of step with how he described the sudden stoppage of communication. Further, if the media reaches out to me at my job, I immediately shuffle them over to our PR person. Full stop. Our PR person knows how to handle media and how to avoid controversy because I sure as hell don’t. Is it really fair to expect that same level of knowledge from an independent developer? Further, is it fair to cut off communication if said developer then uses a loaded term?

  2. The code ‘comments.’ This one struck me as weird. The ‘disclaimer’ in the article about pseudocode is so light as to be irrelevant. I read that sentence and I still attributed the code and the comments directly to the developer. I may not do development day-to-day anymore, but I certainly understand that meaningful C# comments or variable names can’t typically be extracted after an obfuscation process. However, I also know that RimWorld is heavily moddable and it seemed reasonable (to an experienced individual) that the developer may have exposed sections of the code directly or via an API.

So yeah. It’s not that I’m annoyed at the ‘tone’ or ‘hit job’ or the content. I’m annoyed at two specific instances, which in my naive opinion, were not professionally handled.


RPS again justifies why I haven’t bothered visiting them for the past years.


I think the topic is completely valid and that the concerns of the author are completely valid. What I completely disagree with is how the story was managed. As a society of gamers (and in general), we should be entering into conversations about sensitive topics with an open mind. Developing a game is extremely difficult and developers simply do not have time to build full realistic models about everything in their worlds. It’s totally cool to have concerns about the development of the gender model, but to express them in (what I read to be) such an antagonistic manner without working with the developer to represent his point of view is akin to sloppy and uninformed art criticism.

So sure – let’s discuss the role of gender in games and how it is modeled in simulations. However, let’s also work to raise the bar of discourse and practice responsible journalism. We don’t have to constantly be putting people on the defensive to have good stories.


I think that the article was interesting as well. I didn’t know about how the code was dealing with relationships, and that was cool to read about, but the title of the article, and some of the language in it implies more than a simple overview of the code. “Strict gender roles” is strong language. And the developer does a lot on his reddit thread to evenly rebuke most of the claims in the article. It is tough to make conclusions about the code of a game that is a WIP without insight from the developer. We don’t know how the talks between the two parties broke down, but they did. Now it is a he-said she-said between RPS and the developer.

I really think they should have worked harder for a compromise with the developer before publishing, because RPS looks bad out of this. The article makes a lot of claims, and the developer refutes them all on reddit. And some of the explanations he gives, like using OKcupid data, and other “research” studies are actually quite specious and questionable. But, in that reddit thread, he isn’t held accountable, and he is speaking directly to fans who praise his even-handedness. And he is able to edit his comments fluidly.

And, initially the article didn’t have a mention of speaking with the developer at all. Which, is fine for a thinkpiece to not talk to the creator/developer/author but a bit disingenuous to not mention that you did seek comment, and they refused.

I think that using the term hit-piece was wrong. That is charged language. The developer certainly said that he was worried about the tone of the article, so he didn’t participate.

But, in this instance, the code making someone feel uncomfortable could have been mitigated (or further confirmed) by talking with the developer about the code in development. It is hard to make assumptions about a game that is WIP without getting comment from the developer.

In the end, it is messy, and it shouldn’t have been messy. And RPS agreed that it was a mistake to initially not mention that they had spoken to the developer who declined to comment.


I appreciate the several decent responses I’ve had to my post. I don’t really have anything to add in response, as they are all entirely reasonable and make a number of points I would agree with myself.


For anyone asking why this kind of gender/sexuality abstraction is important beyond just being a game mechanic, I present exhibit A:


Note this RimWorld discussion started on Sep 27th. Well before this RPS story.

Dealing With Gay People.
+Brand New Colonist.
+Is Great.
-Is Lesbian.
-Is Beautiful.
How deal with.[/quote]

This is followed by various people offering advice. Some serious, some jokingly. They all pretty much boil down to getting rid of her or minimize the impact she has on the rest of the settlement by giving her tasks that take her away from the rest of the colonists. Again, this is a “great” and “beautiful” female - attributes that arguably would be positives in the real world in most situations - that combined with her sexuality make her a negative force in the game.

If you dig through Reddit, you can find the community there was posting about similar situations in RimWorld long before the RPS article. (I suspect it’s how the author was tipped off that something was going on.)

Purely from a min/max efficiency viewpoint, it makes sense to “deal with” disruptive actors in the most economically pragmatic ways. From a meta-narrative perspective, it does tell a story, and it does “teach” a bias to the players. Attractive lesbians are bad. They disrupt colonies.


Telefrog, the thread you posted mentions problems with gay men and other kinds of interactions. There is no specific bias towards attractive lesbians, except in the OP.

No model is perfect. The interactions are just that, interactions, and they will result in a set of optimal behaviors. Real human interactions are some degrees of magnitude more complex, and even then, you’ll be able to spot those kinds of optimal behaviors too. Prejudices throughout history didn’t exist out of the blue, or were born of pure evil. They were tied to practical questions, and they were born of interactions not unlike those we see in the game.

The point is - trying to make the game’s interactions reflect something that not even Gender Studies in the academy can model effectively is preposterous. It’s a limited model, with limited interactions, that attempts to do a limited modelling of human interactions to give some flavor to the simulation. It’s not supposed to reflect reality and it can’t, in fact, do so. And I’m pretty sure a realistic modelling of such interactions would have similar issues appear, in the same way that we see those in the world around us.

And if you think this kind of emergent behavior can induce gender bias in people, then I suppose you also think that it can induce people to commit cannibalism, or that shooters turn people into mass killers. So pay attention to that kind of argument.