Rim World


I don’t think RimWorld by itself is going to cause anyone to see other genders differently, just as I don’t think Call of Duty by itself is going to make someone a jingoistic killer.

I do however believe the cumulative effect of all media on someone can influence their thinking. If someone consumes a steady diet of HOORAH! KILL 'EM ALL! then yes, I do think that eventually they will think guns are pretty good solution to a majority of problems. So, yes, I pay attention to that kind of argument.

Again, if someone wants to make a game that has porn in it, then good for them. If someone wants to make a game with antiquated sexual ideas, then be my guest. If someone wants to make a serial killer game, well I’m sure there’s an audience for that too.

But also, all art is fair game for criticism, and that includes deep dives into the mechanics of a videogame.


Yes it can, in any direction. In more than one way, it’s exactly what RPS is trying to do. In fact, I’d say that, in terms of intent, RPS is more guilty of such a thing than Rimworld is.


So I’m maybe missing something here, because that Steam thread isn’t really making the case for this code being problematic.

What’s described in that thread did not actually have anything to do with the code critiqued in the RPS piece. Make the handling of men and women totally identical except for swapped gender preference, and the problem is still there. Seems like there are actually three potential root causes:

  1. The game does not consider attraction symmetrical.
  2. The characters continue repeating an action that they should know is guaranteed to fail.
  3. The characters get continued debuffs from failures of the same action.

Point 1 seems totally reasonable to me. But even if you disagree, the only way to change the code in question to fix this is to make everyone have the same sexual orientation. Either everyone is heterosexual, everyone is gay, or everyone is bi. Is that really what you want?

On the other hand both 2 and 3 seem like much more generic problems in the simulation, and fixing either of them would make sense. Just less satisfying targets for hard-hitting investigative journalism.




Oh, do tell!

I’ll explain my thinking on RimWorld. I think it’s bad to have game mechanics that present a hidden sexual/gender bias that contributes to negative stereotypes. I think RPS, and more correctly, the original code-diggers on Reddit that highlighted the mechanics, are showing that this game - as currently made - is not neutral on the subject. Whether or not you agree is part of the discussion, but it’s important to have that discussion.

@jsnell I think you nailed it. The issue is that points 2 or 3 lead to people drawing the conclusion that beautiful women are bad for the colony because they make the men lose morale. The easiest solution in-game is to get rid of them or keep them busy away from the colony proper. That becomes part of the overall media negative stereotype that attractive women = bad for men.

Edit: As for point 1, man, I remember when people were losing their shit when it came out that everyone in The Sims was potentially bi.


The weird thing is that under his system there are no bi men nor hetero women.


I agree with you, though I’m not entirely sold on the concepts of gender interaction in the current academia. There are lots of kinds of bias, and lots of approaches towards gender in real-world studies, and none of them have yet provided an accurate model. I mean by that to say that I’m not sure which stereotypes are factual or negative sometimes, and people should be searching for facts instead of dogmas.

[quote=“Telefrog, post:266, topic:73715”]I think RPS, and more correctly, the original code-diggers on Reddit that highlighted the mechanics, are showing that this game - as currently made - is not neutral on the subject. Whether or not you agree is part of the discussion, but it’s important to have that discussion.

It is not neutral indeed, but the fact is that perhaps it shouldn’t be. I think it’s clear that the current model doesn’t work, but how should it work, really? No one has proven gender neutrality is the accurate model because we just began studying gender as a phenomenon, and we still don’t quite understand how it works, how it is or isn’t tied to biology, or to brain structure, or to the current high-level “chaos theory” model of societal interactions. Any model here will have its own bias, even if it shows gender as absolutely equal in everything, because we don’t know for sure what the facts are. Should we base the game’s model on how the world is now, or how the dev thinks it will makes things more interesting for the game itself, or how academia (or a certain school of it) wants it to be? No one is asking these questions, and everyone should be asking those questions.


Read the dev’s reply. Don’t trust RPS alone with that conclusion. Really.


I feel like I read a different article to most others in this thread. It was a worthwhile and interesting deep dive into a single game mechanic, gave you something to think about and was basically even-handed. I wish there was more of this kind of thing.

People seem to be finding tonal problems I don’t see - “Strict gender roles” sounds accurate and appropriate given that there are hard-coded checks for gender in there that strongly influence probabilistic outcomes.

“Well it’s WIP so therefore not a fair target for criticism” - I don’t really agree, if anything now’s the perfect time to give thoughts on the games systems to the developer. And let’s face it, it is publicly available, and being sold to customers. Besides, the Steam store page states that it’s only in EA due to more content coming later, not that the current systems are still evolving:

“The game is already fully playable, balanced, and generally free of bugs. … We’re doing Early Access to indicate that we still intend to add more content to the game.”

As to not doing more to include developer feedback into the piece, it might have made for a more interesting read but in no way was it necessary. (I assume the article is accurate, and I’ve not yet seen anything from the developer that makes me doubt that.) If a film critic wrote an article about the treatment of women in The Wolf of Wall Street, would you be demanding that Scorsese should have been consulted before publication?


Did you read the developer’s reply? You should. It will give you the full picture, and let you see where RPS’s approach falls short.


Why try to be accurate or apply one-source research data into modeling sexuality at all? It’s a fool’s errand, right?

Either make everyone bi or give a hard percentage chance for bisexuality for every pawn regardless of gender. Like I mentioned, some people went nuts when The Sims first came out and everyone was bisexual, but no one cares now.

The other big change would need to be the eternal morale hit from dudes trying to pick up women that will never accept. That just sucks from a gameplay perspective, no matter what.


Not if you try to make an accurate, true-to-reality model, instead of one that mirrors the most popular (and yet unproven) train of thought. But I guess going for accurate (or inaccurate) modelling over the popular one is a fool’s errand from a business perspective anyway.

I agree with you that giving genders the same percentage chance overall is a good compromise (and making everyone bi would only make sense if you just give up on having any semblance of accurate modelling at all), but the most important fix is changing how the moral hit works. Which is kind of hard to do with the stateless approach the dev implemented, I suppose, but it should be possible.


Well, I think that this article did a good thing, which is bring up this topic, which is very interesting to think about. How would you code that behavior?

I think it would be as simple as, look at demographics and census data, and then choose sexual nature and attractiveness rules when a character is born, or rolled. (I was born this way) Anyway, I think it is fascinating to speculate about how to correctly code gender roles and sexuality in a simulation game. I think a problem with that original article is that they didn’t really take much of a stance or open a dialogue. It would have been nice for the developer to play nice with that writer and meet her halfway, but it didn’t happen.

Now we have the developer speaking out on reddit (and Kotaku) in his own words contradicting that article.

It is really interesting hearing the developer talk about this as well, because he sounds like someone who is good at coding things, and not so good at “reading the room” so to speak when talking about issues like gender roles. It is a touchy subject, with good reason, and his reasoning is a bit odd. But he does admit that it is all a WIP and things will change in updates.

Kotaku did a pretty good job with their article, and they somehow got the developer to go on record with quotes. I guess Kotaku’s journalistic standards are not amazing? We’ll never know how that original article fell apart, but it seemed like the developer was more than willing to talk to Kotaku. That article is pretty even handed, and even critical of the developer’s thought process, which is probably what the RPS article should have done.


Shouldn’t the developer be free to make their “world” how they wanted it to without certain parts of the “media” trying to incite professional outrage against it through clickbait articles? Or are they making a 100% accurate “simulation” of settlers from Earth, in which case I am waiting for the suicide cults, child molesting priests and jihadis, why aren’t they represented in the game?

Suppose all they needed to do was have all the variables as integers in a .ini file so the players themselves could pick traits they wanted their colony to work with or not.

I recall some games had an epilepsy warning at the start, do games need to come with a #trigger warning as well?


Yeah, they should be, but also, people should be able to pick through the code to criticize how unlike the real world that it is. The developer even admitted that there were some bugs he needed to work out.

I think you are going a bit far there. There is definitely a middle ground. I just thought that the article did a bad job of dealing with this topic, and that if you are going to write about code in a WIP game with a developer fully willing to explain himself, you probably should get him to do that in the article, and not via a complaint on reddit.


I did, and I’m afraid I found it unconvincing. For example, this issue:

which you said was explained in the developer’s Reddit comments. He admits there’s no bisexual men in the game, due to a bug. But he indulges in a little sophistry to handwave away the lack of heterosexual women: that because a player would be unable to detect what the code underneath is doing - how attractiveness is calculated - then to all intents and purposes an observer would conclude that there are heterosexual women in the game. OK, that’s one philosophical viewpoint, but what it doesn’t do is refute the article.

The article says there’s a non-zero chance of any given female character finding another woman attractive, that it’s a dice-roll away. I think that it is fair to summarise that the way RPS did, as there being no exclusively-straight women in the same sense that there are definitely exclusively-straight men hardcoded in there.


Sometimes you gotta just pay the man.


So how’s the game?


In the real world they also disrupt male gaming communities with stunted emotional development.


It is excellent.