Self-Care in RUST

Disclaimer: The writing team at Corrosion Hour are not licensed healthcare professionals and are instead writing from the perspective of their personal gaming experiences and real-world interactions. For those seeking professional help or treatment, see the links at the end of the article.

Self-care is important in all things, but take heed in RUST.

Every journey has a start, a fateful path with twists and turns, and a culmination with an uncertain ending. Each of us begins our journey with our motivations, whether to pass the time, seek a fortune, or advance our position. In RUST, as with most other online games, the journey, although virtual, can exact its own type of price as time progresses.

For some, the price is primarily financial. Their journey leads them down the path of the notorious RUST Cheater, full of weekend passes, banned accounts, and lost skins. For others, it’s a huge waste of time. They buy the game, go hard on a PVE server learning the basics, and suddenly they’re missing birthdays and family events because they want to keep their rank for most Bradleys done during a single wipe cycle.

But for many, the price is considerably direr, with lasting life consequences. Allow us to explain.

In the beginning

You took the leap, bought the game, and went through the installation process. A few of your veteran gamer friends have agreed to help you ease into RUST. You’ve watched a few YouTube videos and are ready to dive headfirst into the deep end.

Navigation through the server select screen is complete, and assets are ‘warmed,’ whatever that means. The anticipation is building. You can feel the coursing tingles starting in your shoulders and traveling up the back of your neck.

You hear water… but the screen is a bit dark and distorted. You’re lying down, naked on a beach, and all at once, it becomes real. You’re here; this is RUST. The dystopian hellscape responsible for so many streamer meltdowns, tantrums, and obscenities that even some of the most experienced FPS players avoid it. But here you are.

Blossoming optimism

Once in a Discord server, it doesn’t take long for you to figure out the basic control system and meet up with friends. The PVE server is crowded, bustling, and has genuinely good vibes. 

You and your teammates settle down, create a small base, and begin introductory content such as low-tier monuments and blue card room puzzles. It doesn’t take long to quickly master the finer points of loot acquisition, game processes, and AI behavior.

Before you know it, you’re doing the Cargo Ship event, and your team even managed to take down the Patrol Helicopter. Honestly, you don’t see the big deal—how could a little player-versus-player combat change the game so dynamically and make so many people rage? 

As the wipe slows down and your first-ever wipe day looms, several team members have clarified that they won’t be around next month.  

You make the hard choice and decide to go it alone next wipe on an official server, just like your favorite streamers. Put up or shut up time, but honestly, how hard could it be?

The first encounter

1:58 PM Eastern Standard Time… First Thursday of March. The client update just dropped, and it’s time to shine. As your choice official server loads, you review the starter base design you were shown the last wipe. 

It doesn’t take much in the way of resources, and it is relatively easy to build. Your internal monologue is quite loud, with each section of your brain trying to pull at your already stressed and limited attention span. 

Is this nervousness? Maybe excitement, possibly anxiety? 

I should have peed before sitting down.

Much to your surprise, the next 15 minutes go relatively smoothly. You load in and are greeted with something you didn’t see last wipe, having joined later in the wipe schedule.

Dozens, even hundreds of players, are waking up around you, all headed towards what seems like an invisible promised land. Each player with their schemes, plans, and motives, you spend so much time marveling at their migration that a sharp, sudden CRUNCH forces you back to the real world. A single arrow, straight through your head.

No big deal. You’ve died to NPCs before, and being a fresh spawn, you didn’t have any loot. You casually pick yourself up from your new spawn location and head inland. You aren’t sure where you’re going, but you sure as hell don’t want to remain here. This is a spawn area. You know better.

A trend starts

At the start of day one, you checked out a build location near the Outpost and got a bag down nearby. A duo jumped you as you chopped down trees, but you managed to return to the safe zone before they killed you. After a few moments of quiet stalking, they seemingly moved onto a different target.

You got a single square down with a double wooden door and a TC. You have one box to your name, an empty tuna can, two grubs, and a Waterpipe Shotgun that you found in a lucky Mining Outpost loot crate

After hitting two stone nodes with your freshly crafted Stone Pickaxe, you were immediately shot in the head by a player roof camping a half square away with a bolt action rifle. Demoralized, aggravated, and a little hungry, you logged off for the night.

Day two started off, predictably, with you back on the beach and naked. Still hopeful, given that you didn’t have much and the population is down to only 266 players, you press towards the desert, clinging to the belief that with fewer people, success is almost guaranteed.

In relatively short order, you accomplished more than yesterday, complete with a Sheet Metal Door airlock. Unfortunately, since you built as the sun was going down and without prior scouting, your base is positioned less than a half square away from a rather large clan.

As you sat before your Tool Cupboard and the first Rocket hit the front door, you begrudgingly offered to move, if only to save the raiders the effort. 

After a few choice words, an agreement is made, and you open your doors. You’re called quite a few things for your diplomacy and efforts, including one particularly nasty racial slur as you’re turned to and summarily executed. 

At the moment, you’re not mad. Maybe shock might be a better adjective. But as you stand on the beach alone, you watch several hours of work vanish, and you can’t see yourself continuing. Not today.

A toll is taken

The third time’s a charm, or so they say. You spent a good portion of the night and most of the day at work, coming up with a different plan to make it on your own. 

You found the sleep that you were able to manage last night a bit disrupted, with echoes of complete strangers, demeaning you, questioning your worth, and living up to the perceived culture of the game. You know that you shouldn’t let it get to you, but more than once on the job today, you found yourself needing extra resolve when dealing with annoyances. You felt lessened.  

After dinner and helping the kids with homework, you sit down at your computer and, for the briefest moment, hesitate to press the power button. With a smile and a smirk, you rationalize the feeling away—being devalued by arrogant kids who, to this point, probably haven’t experienced real hardship. Regret isn’t in the RUST player lexicon unless it’s through retribution.

The anger you couldn’t find before has instead found you. You’re mad at yourself for allowing it to happen.

The cracks form

From the third day forward, you feel the change. Your subconscious purpose is no longer enjoyment, fun, or even revenge; it’s superiority. Through the days and weeks, you continue to fall to the more experienced, better-geared players. You take the hits, but you persist. Every loss is a lesson.

Eventually, you even manage to befriend a few neighbors, teaming with them on a full-time basis, if only to feel less isolated in this… pass time. And pass the time you do, racking up hundreds of hours in the coming weeks and months. 

As the dynamic of the team evolves through experience, so too does your darker sense of humor and openness to verbal aggression. Through the conflicts and shared experiences, your team becomes more and more vitriol in their interactions with outsiders, even garnering yourselves several community bans for explicit or extremely toxic behavior.

When you’re at work or home, you’ve noticed that your patience, even with your children, has thinned considerably. Your wife has mentioned several times that you’re considerably colder in responses, sometimes bordering on overly harsh to prove unnecessary points. 

Everything in life has devolved into a form of competition. A few members of the squad, often thought of as softer or more casual, have begun to peel off and venture to other games. With whom you’ve spent countless hours in Discord and the game, these former brothers are now mocked and poked fun at for being quitters.

They just aren’t committed; honestly, they’ve really let the whole team down. Good riddance.

People begin to notice

At your quarterly supervision session, your boss made the snide comment that you seem physically tense and tired most of the time and that it is beginning to show in your billable hour quota. He recommended that you take some time off while things are slow to recharge and come back fresh and focused. 

He doesn’t realize how weak he is… how weak he sounds, making recommendations about things he is clueless about. You wish he would just shut the hell up and mind his business. This is the kind of crap that causes the left eye to start twitching, and it will persist for the rest of the day.

Maintaining your composure through these incessant verbal interventions, both at home and at work, is getting harder and harder. If it isn’t the wife constantly nagging that you’re spending too much time with your online friends, it’s your work buddies complaining that you blew off bowling night again. 

How many more weeks will they believe you’re attending your kid’s recital?

I… notice

The team seems to be falling apart. All we do anymore is argue because no one listens to a damn word I say. The team is all a bunch of whining kids, never willing to take the risks we must take to be the best. 

Maybe I should say to hell with them all and leave Discord. We’ve been wiped three times in a week across two different servers. What would I even be missing out on by leaving?! Getting woken up at 5 AM to calls that we’re being raided? Telling my son to go back to bed while I shout orders into a microphone, and days of work are erased by some offline bads again?

Maybe she has a point… we hardly talk anymore, and when we do, there is nothing but venom and resentment. At this point, the bags under my eyes are a mainstay, and after the team’s last huge fight, I had to patch a hole in the drywall. 

It all sounds like a scenario about an alcoholic father squandering the love of his friends and family as he feeds his addiction. But I haven’t touched a drop in years. What the hell happened to me?

Please, help me

Whether it’s a shame for my actions or embarrassment for the same, asking for help has never been easy. I know I could just uninstall this nightmare from my life, but the pride and the promise to myself are still there. How do you remove yourself from a self-imposed prison sentence? 

So much time was spent. So many friendships are fractured or discarded. So much trust was lost. 

Maybe those who moved on weren’t lacking dedication to the group but were more true to themselves. Perhaps it’s time to pull back the veil of self-deception and cast my eyes to the light. But where does one muster strength where only vanity lingers? 

How hard a thing to say. I’m sorry. Perhaps I am too late. Someone, anyone. Please, just give me a sign.

A step back

Not all wounds are physical, though some will scar you for a lifetime. Sometimes, the smallest slights can send someone, with or without a predisposition for mental health disorders, into a frightening tailspin. Everyone has moments that challenge them in ways that they don’t fully understand, and they are often left unprepared to cope with such trauma.

In the case we’ve just lived vicariously, although semi-hypothetical, our player in question set himself a task to experience for himself what he viewed so many others do on social media. 

Children and adults are impacted in this way every day, whether it be through advertisements inviting them to visit the fastest roller coaster in the state or a professional RUST player boasting on Twitch how easy the game is. 

Ultimately, the origin of the message holds no relevance in the grander scheme. What mattered was where the journey afterward led you.

While atypical and certainly a tad extreme, this scenario isn’t at all unrealistic. Something said or done spontaneously in a moment of stimulation can set others or ourselves down a path gravely unintended. 

  • It wasn’t the weakness or worth of our player that sparked all of those other players to bully him into self-compromise. 
  • It wasn’t willful ignorance that sparked his sense of conviction.
  • It wasn’t a desire for malice and hatred that drove him from a thoughtful husband and provider seeking adventure into a self-loathing, hollow figment of his former self.

Retrospectively, the feeling of betrayal that he ALLOWED himself to feel when those close to him chose to look out for their best interests—his anger was internal because he wasn’t strong enough to let go, as they did. 

He feared showing weakness at the moment, as he had when those hateful neighbors had come knocking so many times before. How many times can a person be knocked down, trampled upon, and left to bleed out in a ditch before enough is enough? 

However imaginative the game setting is, every kick, every shot, and every stranger’s harsh tone adds to the metaphorical shackle, binding us further to feelings of anger, embarrassment, and even hate.

You aren’t alone.

This concept transcends the game of RUST. Situational portrayals can be seen in any game across the MMO spectrum. So long as an environment exists where anonymity is met with free will, the capacity for reckless hate and cruelty can exist. 

If the reader takes anything away, we hope that if any part of you, even for a second, related to or recognized the trickle effect that the actions of others had on our ‘player,’ you know that you are not alone. There is an entire demographic, just like you—and me—quietly coping as best we can.

While most cases will end in the game being uninstalled, the computer is turned off, or simply logging off until tomorrow, the desire was consistent. Time away. A moment to breathe and think about what happened and why. 

It’s important to realize that this type of behavior exists before you enter into a similar world. 

  • For parents, it is vital to recognize what a massively multiplayer game exposes your children to.
  • For individuals, especially those at higher susceptibility to anxiety, depression, or bipolar tendencies, it is equally important to know when you’re being thrown to the wolves.

Self-edification is probably the best way to prepare yourself for this genre. Our player got into the game because of a social media site. YouTube, where not editing out the most hateful, racially charged, and toxic behavior before posting your video, will quickly earn its demonetized status. 

Social media platforms do not adequately prepare us for the imaginative toxicity of our fellow humans. Only the real world or our virtual ones give us a glimpse; it’s often too late by then.  

Seeking assistance

As a veteran of RUST, I can say that my own journey was full of parallels to that of the one detailed above. Some of it, I would venture to speculate, was even a direct description of real-time events. For me, admitting that I had let the game have too much control took longer than any rational person would want it to. 

It impacted my home life, my quality of sleep, and sometimes even my professional life. Those extra toxic 8-hour online raids are a killer on your sleep schedule when you must work the next day. 

Fortunately, my wife had the foresight to see what I was doing to myself. It just took a lot of overcoming my self-deception and pride to see.

Outside of our individual private circles, there are non-profit organizations set up specifically to help not only with the trauma associated with potential online gaming but gaming addiction itself. 

Organizations such as:

  1.  Rise Above the Disorder provides anyone in the gaming community with help and support and begins the dialogue necessary to get you on your own personal road to recovery. 
  2. Healthy Gamer has wonderful resources for gamers and parents seeking help on their path or behalf of a loved one.

Final thoughts on self-care in RUST

Regardless of the form help comes in, we can all use a little support. Even if you believe that your gaming lifestyle is under control and you are mostly unaffected by the assorted trolls in your day-to-day life, perspective, and self-care are everything. Take care of yourselves and each other. 

Take a moment to join our community and consider dropping us a line in Discord; we love to chat about anything and always enjoy check-ins. 

Be good to each other, always.

No Limit Llama's avatar

About No Limit Llama

An aspiring woodworker and web designer. Father, husband, and Rust veteran. Llama has written op-eds and official game documents for over two decades. The earliest writings were on Asheron’s Call, followed by World of Warcraft and eventually Rust. The vast majority of his indoor time is spent running Rust servers or helping friends with their Rust-related projects. He enjoys working around the house, continuing his education when time permits, and creating new processes to simplify activities of daily living for his friends and family. He has an incredible wife, a dog, three children, and one granddaughter.

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