A few months ago I got a text from my friend Kevin saying, “Me and some other guys are gonna try the game ”Rust”, you wanna try it too?” My brother had also bought the game, and Kevin had already tried playing it with him. Not long after trying it, Kevin sent me a message saying, “I hate the game, I want my twenty dollars back. All I did was bang a rock against a tree.”
As of this writing, ”Rust” is an early access game, meaning that you can buy it and play it while it’s still in development. It is a resource gathering, crafting, survival game; a fairly new genre of video game. The premise is that you play a character that wakes up stranded in a desolate landscape. There seems to have been some kind of apocalypse, and while there are signs of past civilizations, you mostly have to craft tools, shelters, weapons, and even clothes in order to survive. Unlike many modern games, there is no map of the land to gain your bearings. There isn’t even a compass to tell you which direction you are headed (though I suspect you may be able to craft one). This is why Kevin originally hated the game. It’s a massively multiplayer game and without a map or compass, Kevin didn’t have a way to find my brother. All my brother could tell him was that if he walked down a road they might be able to find each other. That’s what bothered Kevin, but that’s what got me to purchase the game myself.
I just loved the idea of a feudal world without a map, and the only way to find your brother was to walk down a road without even knowing which way on the road you should head. There was something metaphorical about walking down a road and finding my brother. I had to play the game. So I arrived in the bland world of ”Rust” and sure enough I found a road, and I walked down the road. Realistically in a post-apocalyptic world like that me and my brother would have never found each other. But in the video game world, he could describe landmarks to me over voice chat to lead me to him. In any case, there was a lot of satisfaction when I first saw him running towards me. Had it been possible, in the game, there would have been a brotherly embrace.
He had already started building a house. So I helped with it. You need wood to build, and wood was a scarce resource. Building was a slow process just because of the time it took to gather wood. It was kind of frustrating. Admittedly, I got bored and didn’t play the game again.
Just recently Kevin got over his hatred of the game and was playing regularly. I told him I wanted to play with him. So I did. The game has radically changed in the months since I’ve been away from it. Resources are a little more plentiful, and the landscape is randomly generated. My character woke up on a beach, so instead of walking down a road to find Kevin, I walked down a beach. He and his other friend that were playing the game had already built a shelter atop a rock. That’s what you have to do because people will just raid your shelter if it’s anywhere else. It’s a world of anarchy! In fact you have to construct this weird elevator thing to get into your shelter, it’s kind of annoying, but it’s all you can do if you don’t want to get raided.
So anyway, I originally fantasized about the game as being some cruel world where a bunch of strangers would form a community and work together to build and protect cities. Well, it turns out it’s just an anarchy simulator. Basically the funnest thing to do in the game is go hunting for other players, murder them, and steal everything they have. Most players are naked, because you get killed so often that it’s a waste of materials to make new clothes. The only time I even had clothes was when I murdered a guy with clothes and took them. Shortly after that I was murdered and my clothes taken from me. In another adventure Kevin and I saw a lone man mining minerals. We murdered him and it turned out it was a friend of ours. Too bad, I guess. It’s a savage world.
Anyway, there is a certain thrill to murdering people: Some lone wanderer is just trying to survive, and then he’s murdered. It’s hilarious, in a way. It’s not like the metaphor of walking down a road and finding your brother, but it sure is fun. Anyway, I highly recommend the game. You also need a few friends to play with. A pack of two can kill a lot of lone wanderers, but larger packs are even better. What’s really cool is you can actually voice chat with nearby people. You can taunt them! I suppose you could try to befriend them as well. But even I must admit that when my blood lust hadn’t been satisfied in a while, I was tempted to jab my spear into Kevin’s back.
If a situation like that happened in real life I think people would work together to build civilizations and cities. I mean look at the cities we’ve built today. But when there are no consequences for your actions, complete anarchy ensues!