I honestly do wonder if this article wasn’t maybe at least a little bit politically motivated afterall.
An author who is publishing interviews about their game on fucking Breitbart has no room to complain about people analyzing its politics.
Seriously Breitbart isn’t Fox News-style “news, but from a conservative angle”, where there are parts of the organization that do opinion and parts that do legitimate news - they are extremely open about the fact that their purpose as an organization is to wage a culture war, with everything they publish, no exceptions, being part of a no-holds-barred scorched-earth war against their liberal and progressive enemies.
I don’t feel that an author can give an interview about their game there and then turn around and complain when someone writes a piece analyzing the gender-politics implicit in their game’s design decisions. If anything, I feel that the RPS coverage was extremely cautious and even-handed in light of that fact.
In fact, going by the dev’s comments on the RPS article, he’s extremely open and blunt about the fact that Rimworld’s structure and coding is intended to aggressively push his positions on modern-day culture wars over gender (he couldn’t resist re-litigating them in his post, even.) And that’s fine as far as it goes - there’s nothing wrong with writing a game with a heavily-politicized message like that, even a really partisan one - but you can’t then turn around and say “oh wait no, what is this, why are people reading politics in my game?”
(Some people might avoid your game because they disagree with its politics or find them repellent. And that’s their call! That’s up to them! Any detailed coverage of your game ought to touch on both its overt and implicit politics, regardless, so people can decide for themselves if they think it’s smart and worth looking into, or dumb and detracts from the overall experience.)
Maybe he thought he’d managed it as a quiet dogwhistle thing and didn’t want anyone outside his “tribe” to be aware of the underlying politics he was pushing with his game? That’s all I can parse out of his objections (and the objections of some of his supporters.)
Like… they’re trying to claim the game is apolotical; and I get that there’s a sort of thing here where people with hard, firm political views just see them as the way things are (you can see this in his post, again, where he digs in and gets all “this is just how genders ARE, these are just FACTS”)l… but I find it hard to buy; he knows other people disagree with those views, which is pretty much all you need for something to be politicized, and if he’s giving interviews to fucking Breitbart he can’t claim ignorance of the fact that asserting his views in his game like this is making a political statement.
And that’s something interesting and worth discussing! I don’t think that it instantly renders Rimworld TOTALLY AWFUL DO NOT PLAY. But I also think that anyone with strong feelings about those things deserves a chance to know about it; and that, beyond that, it’s interesting to dissect a game’s structure to get a sense of how cultural assumptions about gender and the like can be encoded into it, often inadvertently or on a level that isn’t immediately obvious.
Or, in this case, deliberately, but you get the idea.
I also think that there is a biiiit of projection here from people who accuse the RPS article of being some kind of agenda-driven hit piece. It was, again, an extremely cautiously-worded and narrowly-phrased analysis of the game’s implicit assumptions about gender, mostly avoiding any sort of conclusions. But a site like, say, fucking Breitbart exists solely and deliberately to produce agenda-driven hit pieces; and to someone who has been wallowing in that for too long, I can see how they might start to view the entire world through that lens, and assume that any sort of coverage that says anything they disagree with at all must be just a liberal version of Breitbart’s culture-war salvos. But reading this article in that light sort of requires… not reading it at all. Or ignoring everything else RPS has ever written about Rimworld.
Obviously the author has a perspective - everyone has a perspective! - but for the most part it was a nuanced and careful look at the sociopolitical dimensions of game mechanics.