Valve Decides To Get Out Of The Curation Business When It Comes To 'Offensive' Games

from the the-good-and-the-bad dept

As we’ve said in the past, Valve has always had a tricky line to walk with it’s Steam platform, having to straddle the needs of both the gamers that use the service and the game developers that make it worthwhile. Frankly, it’s walked this line fairly well for the most part. The platform, which was always popular, has exploded as the place to release a new game title online. As we noted way back in ye olde 2016, this popularity has also presented a problem for Steam: saturation. There are now simply so many games available on the platform that blindly wading into it and expecting to find new content you didn’t know you wanted is a dicey proposition at best. More content is an undeniably good thing, but it would be silly to suggest that the deluge of new games released in the past few years hasn’t also had a deleterious effect on the usability of the platform.

Our solution? It won’t surprise you. We advocated that Steam empower the gamers that use it to act as curators. If done properly, this would allow an ecosystem of trusted advisers among gamers that share interests to tell them which titles they should be looking at. To that end, Steam subsequently employed a curators program within the platform that attempted to build exactly this ecosystem. To date, it’s been mediocre at best.

But this isn’t the only publicized problem Steam has had in recent days. In addition, the platform has been in the news for its wishy-washy but ultimately heavy-handed approach to games that have either mature sexual content or are offensive to large swaths of people. Combinations of so-called sex-games and games that make such topics as school shootings central to gameplay have been banned, or not, often to much critique from every side from gamers.

The concept of empowering its community to serve as its own filters and the no-win situation when it comes to offensive games has now collided, causing Valve to announce that it’s getting out of the game content moderating business entirely.

In a blog post musing on the difficulty of deciding on a case-by-case basis what should and should not be allowed on Steam, Valve’s Erik Johnson explained that the company does, in fact, have a team of humans that looks at “every controversial title submitted to us,” and employees frequently disagree like Steam users do. “The harsh reality of this space, that lies at the root of our dilemma, is that there is absolutely no way we can navigate it without making some of our players really mad,” Johnson wrote.

“We’ve decided that the right approach is to allow everything onto the Steam Store, except for things that we decide are illegal, or straight up trolling,” said Johnson. “Taking this approach allows us to focus less on trying to police what should be on Steam, and more on building those tools to give people control over what kinds of content they see.”

There are two reactions that leap immediately to mind. First and foremost, this will be a good and useful experiment by Valve. Empowering customers and communities is almost always the right approach. Acting as a gatekeeper or the warden managing the walled garden is not an approach we believe in. Moreso, an approach by a company that puts its trust in the everyday customer is typically an inherently consumer-friendly one. The ideals behind this kind of move are a good one. Censorship sucks, choice is better.

On the other hand, the other immediate reaction has to be that Valve had damned well better have its user tools in order when it rolls this out en masse, because two things will happen otherwise. Most directly, gamers who are being inundated with games and content they find horrifying, offensive, or otherwise view negatively are going to be fully up in arms. It’s easy to imagine families that game together, between parents and young children, losing their shit if the Steam homepage is suddenly full of games laden with overt sexual content or school shootings.

Even more so, if you thought the floodgates had been open when it came to the sheer volume of titles on Steam previously, this is going to introduce a potential tidal wave of new games onto the marketplace. If Valve isn’t supremely prepared to empower users now with far better curating tools than it already has, the platform is likely going to take a severe dip in its usability as a place to discover games.

In other words: decent idea, assuming Valve has put a ton of thought into how this will impact its platform.

Filed Under: , , ,
Companies: valve

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Valve Decides To Get Out Of The Curation Business When It Comes To 'Offensive' Games”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

“It’s easy to imagine families that game together, between parents and young children, losing their shit if the Steam homepage is suddenly full of games laden with overt sexual content or school shootings.”

FSM forbid the kids watch the news, use FB or other social media.

There is this concept that the platform has a duty to make sure you are never possibly offended or face the consequences.

I mean I get people are self centered but for fucks sake this is in line with the idea that McDonalds made your kid fat because of toys in Happy Meals!
I was unaware these kids had their own money & own drivers to take them to McDonalds whenever… or wait your kid whined so the world had to adapt to keep you from being the bad guy.

A robust tagging system is required & people willing to put time into using the tool rather than screaming how the corporation is promoting the death of puppies. Being able to tick no mature titles (with mature clearly defined & locked in – expanding definitions after the fact always makes them useless) and a few other setting that meet your specific requirements & you have a platform tailored to you.

Far to often platforms decide its easier to just race to make changes for each persons demands & making their platform a shithole. (Looking at you @Jack)

While the complaints of the “whatabouts” will get attention, standing strong is hard to do. Clearly showing how the tools work & illustrating the insanity of allowing 1 group to demand the platform conform to that groups ideals for everyone. While everyone likes to claim their only have the best intentions “everyone” doesn’t agree.

Empowering people with the tools to make it how they wish to see it & demanding they do the work is a scary thing but more platforms need to do it. If platforms insist on making everyone happy they will die off because finding anything that makes it through the 20,000 different demand minefields without pissing someone off would be nothing… there is nothing that doesn’t offend someone.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

I worry that social media has wired people of any age to overreact to anything unfamiliar or different by artificially keeping them from unpleasant/unliked things.

Hopefully with better tools, people might start to realize that the platforms were never responsible for their feelings/mental health while online in the first place.

Maybe then they’ll stop collectively acting like rabid squirrels: sprinting away or biting the faces off of anything “offensive”. 😛

I miss the Internet where no one cared if you were a dog, and no one just gave away their real name in order to be popular or more easily found.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

People feel they “win” when they impose their desires on everyone.

Some people had an issue with R. Kelly.
As far as I know, he’s not been arrested or charged with anything, but there are disturbing rumors.
They demanded Spotify stop having R. Kelly songs & somehow Spotify gave in.
They promptly offered up the next round of artists they think no one should hear because reasons.

It is a pity that some people are demanding the entire world be covered in nerf so they never have to feel bad & platforms are giving into them. If you dislike the song on spotify turn it off, skip ahead, change the channel? (IDK I’ve never used it.) Instead we have to make sure that nothing they dislike can be heard by anyone because they assume they are the only judges of peoples character that matter.

I think Mike Huckabee is a dumbass but I’ve never started a campagin to throw him off of twitter. I chose not to follow him, shockingly sometimes his dumbassery is retweeted into my timeline and I might then comment. The bell can’t be unrung and if I root for him to be silenced, I need to prepare for the long list of people who’ll root for me to be silenced next. The crap he babbles might upset me but I refuse to allow the words of a dumbass to ruin my entire life because I need the whole world to be a safe space for me.

I was tweeting at one of my “righty” friends on teh twitters… I think it sums it up nicely.

Being a chucklefuck & having chucklefuck ideas is the basis of the country. They are free to do so. You aren’t forced to root for them, share their ideals, & can point and laugh. The thing everyone seems to forget… your ideas makes you a chucklefuck to someone else.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Imposing my desires on everyone

Yeah, I’m still trying to wrap my head around what made the Masterpiece Cakes ruling acceptable. Why does a heartfelt religious belief have more weight than a heartfelt conviction of principle emerged from experience and perspective and determined by deduction? This runs parallel to the ruling on Hobby Lobby in which, again, religious owners of a public-facing company were able to sidestep laws intended to serve a society of equals, thanks to religious privilege.

I am certain that society needs to be inclusionist whether or not people have religions or creeds that say otherwise. And the act of a business violating someone’s rights on the basis of religious belief (as per Masterpiece Cakeshop and as per Hobby Lobby) problematic. This makes one group into a plebeian class and another group (those who aren’t the first group) into a privileged class.

Does that make me a chucklefuck to believe that way, or has the United States simply abandoned hope towards becoming a society of fairness and law? Are we now just a divided nation battling it out in a grand meleee, but using legislation and litigation as a proxy for actual violence? Doesn’t it then give justification to those who choose to resort to violence when their legal resources fail?


Re: Re: Re:2 Imposing my desires on everyone

You get to do what you want. You can’t force people to participate.

That case is a classic example of liberal media pushing a half truth. They do this crap all the time and people are left dazed and confused when things “seem to go sideways”.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Be careful with what you wish for, someone ELSE might get it

You get to do what you want. You can’t force people to participate.

Only within certain limits. For example, were someone a racist loser they could absolutely make a rule that none of them ‘other’ races were allowed in their house, and that would be disgusting but entirely legal. However if they’re running a public business they are not allowed to refuse service to someone simply because they happen to be a bigoted idiot and the other person has the ‘wrong’ color of skin. Swapping out ‘having the wrong color of skin’ with ‘happens to be gay’ does not change anything to any significant degree.

The fact that someone holds a ‘deeply held religious belief’ that involves discrimination should not give them any sort of pass, otherwise someone could excuse their bigotry and treatment of others simply by claiming it was in line with their religious beliefs.

‘Oh my religious belief holds that anyone not of my religion is a blaspheming heathen, and not deserving of any sort of assistance, which includes selling them products. As such, if they’re not members of my religion, they are not welcome in my store.’

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Imposing my desires on everyone

With two rulings on the books that religious belief trumps basic rights that would otherwise be covered I almost look forward to when someone not christian tries that against a ‘good upstanding member of society.’

If say a fundamentalist muslim had a ‘deeply held religious belief’ that women had no business not only being out and about on their own but uncovered, would those same judges say that yeah, they could absolutely refuse to offer service to an unescorted woman who was so indecent and shameless that she dared show her face in public?

I would hope the answer would be ‘no’ in such a case, but the desperate scramble to explain that no, this was totally different from those other cases would certainly be worth some entertainment.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Imposing my desires on everyone

I often wondered what would have happened if the fact that Hobby Lobby was heavily invested in contraceptives had come out sooner. We don’t like paying for them but we have no problem profiting from them. They also had no problem giving money to terrorists for stolen antiquities, because the religious artifacts mattered more than the law.

The ‘special rights’ they always complain about teh gays trying to get seems to blind them to the ‘special rights’ they have. If I refuse to serve them because of their religion I’ve violated a federal law. They are a protected group & can’t stand the idea that teh gays might get the same treatment they enjoy.

They claim it is an attack on their freedoms to have to treat us like people. Gays getting married didn’t destroy their families, didn’t make the sanctity of their 4th marriage any less. Hell I’m willing to be 90% of these hard liners have never met an actual gay person, just the stories told about how dangerous they are & how we are plotting to get them. Fear is a wonderful motivator.

On the imagined immortal timeline I work from… these people have always had someone to blame, hate, & treat less than human. The Irish, Italians, Germans, Jews, Chinese, Japanese, Blacks…
I am always entertained by the Black church leaders who scream about Gays getting rights making civil rights worth less or stealing it from their people.

Its not pie, if we get a slice there isn’t less for everyone else. I do enjoy that a majority of religious freedom claims focus only on teh gays and ways to avoid them, because their interpretation of bible says that they can pick and chose which of the words of god to obey.

People were given the fear that somehow gay’s being able to get married would mean we’d force all churches to marry us or end up in court. It’s sort of telling from my viewpoint that they were more fired up about fighting to keep gays form getting married than they were about the rampant pedophilia and cover-ups.

Don’t want to make the cake, fine be a prick… but don’t try to stretch religious freedom to the point where it lets you pretend the Jim Crow laws are back for teh gays.

We’d have not made it to SCOTUS if he’d refused to make a cake for the ‘darkies’ because his religion says he shoudn’t… they’d have marches & lots of screaming about racism hiding behind the clerics robes.

I can respect him for saying making that cake interferes with my beliefs (he has a provable history of his beliefs being part of his business), I think the board that heard the case was a bunch of idiots who went over the top.

There is a large base of voters who feel that they are under attack for their beliefs… and kind of they are, because they use their beliefs to allow them to behave in ways that if done to any other group would violate several laws.

Wendy Cockcroft (user link) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Imposing my desires on everyone

Yeah, I’m still trying to wrap my head around what made the Masterpiece Cakes ruling acceptable. Why does a heartfelt religious belief have more weight than a heartfelt conviction of principle emerged from experience and perspective and determined by deduction? This runs parallel to the ruling on Hobby Lobby in which, again, religious owners of a public-facing company were able to sidestep laws intended to serve a society of equals, thanks to religious privilege.

Eh, per their point of view they were being forced to involve themselves in something that violated their consciences.

I am certain that society needs to be inclusionist whether or not people have religions or creeds that say otherwise. And the act of a business violating someone’s rights on the basis of religious belief (as per Masterpiece Cakeshop and as per Hobby Lobby) problematic. This makes one group into a plebeian class and another group (those who aren’t the first group) into a privileged class.

That plebian/privilege thing can flip in the blink of an eye. This is why I’m opposed to creating protected classes of anything since those who fall outside it are unprotected by default.

Does that make me a chucklefuck to believe that way, or has the United States simply abandoned hope towards becoming a society of fairness and law? Are we now just a divided nation battling it out in a grand meleee, but using legislation and litigation as a proxy for actual violence? Doesn’t it then give justification to those who choose to resort to violence when their legal resources fail?

Fairness and law are differnt things these days; the Golden Rule applies: whoever has the gold makes the rules. Time was, Christians were so persecuted the best they could do was hope to win people over by their good example. Fast forward to more recent times and you’ll find Quakers and Mormons going through the same thing but gradually became accepted by demonstrating the virtues of personal integrity and sober living that won them acceptance in society. Muslims are experiencing the same thing, gaining converts in the most surprising places.

I’m researching for a blog post on the culture wars and it seems to me that Saint Ronald of Reagan, by wedding capitalism to religious authoritarianism, has poisoned the well for people of faith since we’re now all being tarred with the same brush. The Evangelicals used to stand for decency and integrity. They opposed slavery. However, since they threw their lot in with the Movement Conservatives, they’ve lost their religious mojo and turned into fascist authoritarians of the most appalling kind. To make matters worse they’re not even bovvered as long as they get what the want; Supreme Court judges who enact their reactionary agenda. Restricting their information sources to echo chambers (though they often claim to check out other sources the ones they give the most credence to are their own) only serves to consolidate and intensify their toxic nastiness. And they wonder why they’re losing the culture wars? tl;dr: when the number of real human beings who have suffered at their hands reaches a quorum they will be put right out of business — and they’ll have no clue as to why.

hij (profile) says:

Popular for being popular

There is another potential problem. It may make it harder for developers to introduce something truly innovative and different. These kind of community based rating systems tend to demote ideas that are too different or that only appeal to a group not already steeped in the culture. That already happens to an extent, but it could make things worse.

Thad (user link) says:

Re: Popular for being popular

Maybe. Though I think critics often have bias in the opposite direction: they play so many games that are so similar that when one comes along that’s different, they’re more inclined to give it high marks.

Remember Black and White? That’s a great example of a game that got much higher marks from critics than from players in general.

I.T. Guy says:

Valve has their sh*t together. Although I never really used their platform to find new stuff. That’s what blogs and YouTube are for. I have been wanting better tools in the app so hopefully they come up with something good. They have a pretty good understanding of their customers and what they want.

It also opens the door for developers to create and not have the censor monkey hanging over their heads in every controversial decision they make.

Anonymous Coward says:

If I’m being honest (and anonymous) I only use Steam to check for new VR games with (currently tame) adult content as these are banned from Oculus home.

I have no objection to a bunch of new smut being added – surely they can implement a simple applied-by-default smut-filter option in the users profile to keep it away from innocent eyes?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Historical realism. And also remember, in the middle ages, a female knights armor only consisted of armored breast cups held on by a leather strap, and metallic bikini bottoms. Proof of that was all that was needed to protect her. Proof of this was published on cover of Dragon Magazine years ago.

Seegras (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Scantily dressed barbarians? Bad Fantasy. Because most barbarians (unless you count amazon indigenous people and middle-african tribes) weren’t scantily-clad, ever.
This is not a viking. Nothing of it is anything viking, neither clothes nor axe nor bow. THIS
is a viking. Or this:

Max (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Learned long ago that all “loved it” reviews are utterly worthless; not even worth the time wasted reading them. I only read the “hated it” reviews – if multiple ones raise issues meaningful to me then the movie is probably utter shite indeed. If several of them fail to complain about anything I’d see as a problem, the movie might even be worth watching…

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

I really don’t understand these complaints.

Yes, there is a lot of garbage on Steam. There are also filters, curators, user reviews, Metacritic scores, featured games, related games, lists by developer/publisher, etc.

And that’s only on Steam itself.

You also have easy access to written reviews, video reviews, streamers, communities for specific games or series or genres, etc.

I’ve never had a problem finding “actual quality products” on Amazon, for example, which sells millions and millions of products and has similar sorting, browsing, and filtering tools to Steam.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

I take it you were never a gamer back in the ’80s.

The Nintendo Entertainment System, which was considered the pinnacle of home video gaming at the time, had some of the shittiest, boring, lackluster games on their console. Renting was always a bitch because everyone had always rented the good games, leaving you with only the shit games to pick from. It was that or you don’t rent any game that weekend.

Grab yourself a pack of NES ROMs, load one at random and the chances of it being a decent game are near-nil. But we still loved the hell out of that console, because what few good games it had were absolutely fantastic masterpieces that still continue to inspire developers and entertain gamers to this day.

This problem has existed long before Steam. At least with Steam, even though we have hundreds more shitty games than you’d have found on the NES, you’ve also got hundreds more good games that you can play instead. Hell, I’m a Linux gamer and there’s more fun games available for my OS on Steam than I could ever afford to buy, despite the handicap of being a third-class citizen in the eyes of developers. There’s also no shortage of “shelf space” on Steam so the rest of the neighbourhood isn’t going to buy up all the copies of that game you really want.

Overall, I’d say things have improved. Don’t like shitty games? Don’t play them!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

What the hell kind of revisionist history is this? Open publishing nearly killed the industry with the great video game crash because of just endless streams of terrible or outright broken games (sound familiar?), and Nintendo jumped in with their Nintendo Seal of Quality as an assurance that the game works. The value of that seal went down over the years, but it was instrumental in changing the momentum of the entire market.

If all you’re going to come up with is saying things like Elevator Action or whatever other non-mainline NES games are terrible, then sure, your opinion is your opinion, but it’s not on the same level as the asset flips or scam games hitting steam now.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Agreed. The ridiculous amount of garbage on Steam does nothing aside from lowering the quality of the service. I would love to be able to go to Steam and browse the new releases and see a handful of games that with real effort put into them, good or bad, rather than a pile of borderline unplayable trash consisting of bare-bones asset-flips and glorified flash games.

Anonymous Coward says:

post-gamergate sensibilities

To many gamers these days, it seems that the most ‘offensive’ games are the ones that are perceived as pushing “SJW” politics of some kind. Last years Mass Effect: Andromeda was a financial flop for largely that reason, and the upcoming Battlefield V could well suffer the same fate.

Perhaps expanding the content rating system might help quell some of this anger. How about grading games on a scale of 1 to 10 for “progressivism” so the anti-progressivists wont be rolling their eyes at the ceiling and screaming “blasphemy!” whenever they see African Vikings or one-armed midget female swordsmen inserted into a historical setting as if by some kind of conspiratorial affirmative-action quota — and conversely, so the people that appreciate such inclusiveness can show their support for it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 post-gamergate sensibilities

We can let Battlefield V be the next test of whether injecting a dose of progressivist politics into video games is a net positive or negative, and help answer the ongoing question of whether a more inclusive/diverse/politically-correct game will attract more new people to the franchise than the number of existing game fans that quit in disgust at having been “pwned” by the SJW crusaders once again.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 post-gamergate sensibilities

They can include it if they like… I just don’t like it when they presume people who don’t like the politics-pushing in games are all horrible people.

Promote to a very small minority of people, and you get a very small amount of sales. Your game flops. It’s just business.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

They get lost and tend to give up. This is the business model of Costco

What’s the problem? It’s been working extremely well for Costco. If the average Steam bill becomes as high as the average Costco bill, because people can’t stop piling stuff into their carts, Valve should see greatly increased profits.

Anonymous Coward says:

A fair move by Valve

This is probably the most profitable and fair angle for Valve.

They’re never going to please all the anti-censorship crowd (developers like ATLUS also censor themselves for console port sales viability). They’ll also never please the censorship crowd because they are never happy with whatever is taken down, either.

If bad things can’t exist, good things can’t exist. They’re just two sides of the same coin and it isn’t just for creative works to be taken away just because they’re disturbing to some.

At least books get away from this argument (the vast majority of the time) because people know they aren’t real and too many of the best books already have seriously disturbing things in them: 1984, Fahrenheit 451, for some related examples.

Maybe we can’t do anything about the things that are real and disturbing, but at least we can always turn off the TV, get out of Netflix, close the browser, eject the disc, uninstall the game, block the troll, flag the spam, turn off the computer, lock the phone and shut our eyes.

All creative ideas should exist freely so that everyone can judge those ideas’ merit for themselves. If it’s just one creative work, no one’s put a gun to our heads to force us to “enjoy” it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: A fair move by Valve

You fail to consider all the massively deranged snowflakes who believe they have some kind of right to live in their own world where nothing they encounter can possibly offend, disturb or challenge them – and that everyone else should be forced to live in this aseptic world of theirs, while we’re at it.

In any kind of sane universe, there should only ever be one single answer to anything they demand: “fuck off and die!”. Unfortunately, no sane person would call the universe we happen to live in one of those.

Anonymous Coward says:

There's Only Two Ways This Can Work Well and Steam May Likely Ch

Hopefully Steam stands by their yes-to-all-but-trolls-and-illegal-content to the fullest extent. As we’re all aware Steam recently pulled out of allowing many games with sexuality as their focal points. They cited that said games are now outside their Terms of Service. As such we have to ask “will there be a ToS update?” If yes, fine, we’ll wait and see. If not, then they are curating more than they promised. When this new stance goes official will the (Hunnie?) Pop? game publisher get to resubmit all their games with no worry of rejection?

Alternatively Steam could take a completely reactionary approach to curation, only purging what gets the most attention. This is sort of what they do now. That leads to the question of how much attention is enough to do something? News coverage? Legal threats? EU prodding? Without the above clearly defined then we don’t know what actually is acceptable.

In short; Valve probably won’t stand by this policy as much as they make it seem. For every exception they end up making they’ll notice how stupid their idea was.

Anon E Mouse says:

Re: Re: There's Only Two Ways This Can Work Well and Steam May Likely Ch

They weren’t pulled, yes.

Their creators “just” got some nasty emails from Valve, stating they had up to arbitrary date to modify their game so it conformed to Valve’s guidelines. No word on what part of the guidelines were being broken. Nothing on why some games which were on Steam for several years with no issue were getting these mails now. Nor was there any explanation why games which cleared everything with Valve long before being published were suddenly breaking something. No replies to questions on what rules were being broken or wtf was going on, either.
Then the deadlines came and went, no game was pulled, and this blog post appeared.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: There's Only Two Ways This Can Work Well and Steam May Likely Ch

This is internal to Valve. There were employees that may or may not have been influenced by others in choosing games to target for takedowns.

You have to read between the lines of the original blog post. There was internal conflict in Valve because of those takedown notices and it was sorted out to this conclusion.

Ultimately, no games were pulled, developers were given notice that their games were NOT being taken down and to dismiss the earlier takedown notices. But maybe heads rolled or at least got a BIG talking to at Valve. I hope the employees responsible for putting those takedown notices out have got their heads on straight now.

This could have been a BIG PR fallout from Valve if they didn’t respond to the kerfuffle specifically like this, but I’m very relieved more thoughtful Valve staffers prevailed.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: There's Only Two Ways This Can Work Well and Steam May Likely Ch

In short; Valve probably won’t stand by this policy as much as they make it seem.

That didn’t take long:

"We rejected Active Shooter because it was a troll, designed to do nothing but generate outrage and cause conflict through its existence," [Valve spokesperson Doug] Lombardi told the site. […] "And to be explicit, while the developer behind it was also a troll, we’d reject Active Shooter if it had been submitted by any other developer."

There’s certainly evidence the developer is trolling, but no reason to think every "school shooting" game would be. Everyone used to have a Doom-level of their school in the 90s, just because it was a familiar place and the level-generation tools were free. If the premise of the game is that demons are overrunning the world, they’re going to be in schools too.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: There's Only Two Ways This Can Work Well and Steam May Likely Ch

You really trust a press troll like that?

He claimed up and down how soon Half-Life 2 was coming out back in the day, only to say “oh, wait, it’s delayed”.

He’s a hypetrain loose cannon that Valve can’t dislodge from themselves.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Sex games

It’s frustrating that sex games (or rather games that feature sex) remain in the same pool of controversy as rampage killing simulators and racist propaganda games. The end result of eschewing sexuality is the peep-show boob-physics elements of fighting games which mirrors the gratuitous nudity in US Cinema circa 1970-1990 because people were that easily buzzed by skin.

(Not to be confused with the gratuitous nudity in Spanish cinema post-fascism, which was mostly a giant backlash to Franco’s extreme censorship laws)

It really is a matter where more art makes for better art. By creating bad sex games we’ll improve at creating sex games so they’re less-bad to creating good sex games. In the meantime we’ll also see where games that aren’t sex-games can happen to feature sex (and discuss love, sex and relationships) without having to create a surreal patch of censorship. (Dollhouse games like The Sims franchise come to mind.)

(The same can, interestingly be said about games that discuss real-world issues, or are set in real-world violence hotspots. We’re very critical of games that try, and hence most games create franchise-centric antagonists, or stick to historic favorites. I think bad games about real conflicts will ultimately lead to good games about real conflicts.)

Anonymous Coward says:

The blog post from Valve was very clear: They want to make money off of doing nothing.

The company is co-opting the same kind of language as genuine free-speech supporters and hiding behind that as an excuse to further remove themselves from managing their store, leaving it up to the users to play, review, tag, filter, and curate the store themselves. Valve wants countless hours of free labor to go into making the store usable when they, as a multi-billion dollar company, could easily hire staff and create systems and tools for said staff to curate games so that blatant controversy-baiting games and no-effort asset flip garbage stays off the store.

The only thing that Valve cares about is making lots of money. They should just come out and say it to our faces instead of trying to dupe us into thinking that they actually value free speech and free expression.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

I’d rather have them work on Half-Life 3 (or something else that’s good) than abandon being a developer altogether because they’re too busy curating.

And no matter what curating they do, no one will be happy with it. Get rid of malware, asset flips and literally broken games, get better at that part, for sure. But it does no good to start censoring, because it NEVER ENDS. You can’t please everyone because people never run of of things to hate and be offended by.

It’s a fool’s errand to get rid of “all the bad games”.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

So far we've only seen bad games

When it comes to certain kinds of controversy, not only games featuring school shootings but also games that feature terrorism or terrorists, and games that reflect fringe ideologies (say, the Left Behind games) is that very often they’re not good enough to appeal to gamers outside those who are looking to verify that given ideology.

We’ve seen that line crossed before. The GTA series looked at organized crime and gang life and gave players the freedom to rampage if they wanted to. (Most didn’t or did only as directed or when it was strategically useful to do so) Numerous management and strategy games examine maintaining a criminal syndicate (which looks a lot like maintaining a corporation). In C&C Generals was one of the first places I was able to see suicide bombers as (groomed) units of warfare, and not ideological madmen who hate our freedoms.

I’m not sure it’s possible to create a good game about rampage killers (though so far we’ve only seen games in which one is a rampage killer, not really exploring scenarios that feature rampage killers.) But I think such games are going to only remain a fringe phenomenon until we see games that are good enough to appeal to players who aren’t necessarily invested in exploring the rampage-killer scenario.

The same is true for any other game that pokes at controversial issues. They have to get good enough to appeal to players outside that small interest demographic before they’re really going to affect society at large or change minds.

Gary Mont (profile) says:

Security Hole.

(Admittedly slightly off topic.)
But NOT a rant! Just a question.

My ignorance in this field – hacking – is impressive, but having found no assurance to the contrary, I’ve always wondered why platforms like Valve/Steam are never considered as a security risk.

I assume it’s because they affect mainly kid’s computers, so nobody really cares because everyone knows that kids don’t have sensitive data on their PCs and that kids are just incorrigible pirates anyway…. /s

After all, these platforms try to force gamers to play online, where they can be monitored, and they apparently gain administrative rights on PCs via installed software, to insure that gamers are not using pirated software versions of the games.

If this installed software detects a non-legal copy of a game being launched, it has the ability to prevent the launch. I assume this is an administrative privilege.

To play offline, you need to get permission through the installed software’s dialogue interface, else no play is allowed.

I would think that the very fact that these platforms run proprietary software with administrative rights on gamers’ PCs, while the computers are online, offers bad actors a simple, unprotected venue for illegal access and secret surveillance of millions of computers.

Perhaps such platforms actually have only limited administrative rights… but even then, this appears to be an open and obvious doorway for nefarious practices by governments and other criminal organizations and groups.

What assurance is there that Valve’s mounted software is impregnable to intrusion and outside control by bad actors?

Steam’s Screenshot-Uploader application, for example, runs as soon as the PC is booted, and remains running in the background until the computer is turned off, whether you launch one of their games or not.

Valve “allows” this background application to be turned off through the Steam Interface On-line, but the stated process does not actually work and the application remains active after following the instruction for turning it off.

Nor will Steam actually respond to any post that demands that this aspect of their installed software be turned off, or for that matter, any post that does not praise the company and its actions as being a gift from Gawd.

Could such a background application not be used by law enforcement to scan for illegal pornographic images, or by government searching for words in email, or edited text files, that might be used by terrorists or drug dealers?

What assurances do we have that such platforms as Steam, do not simply record everything a kid or adult does on their PC and deliver it whole to government for extra income.

Just asking.

Gary Mont (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: "Just kids"

I’m 68 come December.

Oblivion (pre-SteamDVD) Not controlled by Steam.

Skyrim and SkyrimSE

All controlled by Steam.

I hate being forced to allow privileged parasites to exist on my computer, just so Corporations can check my pockets for contraband. But so far, its the only way I can play these games:)

In my opinion, its this kind of “You don’t really own what you buy.” legislation that encourages people like me to search for “parasite-free” hacked versions of games on P2P networks.

MrL0G1C says:

2 different arguments

There’s 2 different groups here:

1. Don’t censor anything group
2. Stop flooding Steam store with trash group

Group 1, the Don’tCensor group doesn’t understand that group 2, The NoTrash group has nothing against not censoring, they merely don’t want the store being filled with asset flips and crap games that were made in a day or a week by a single individual.

The Don’tCensor are so rabidly anti-censorship that they will support any trash thrown on to steam so long as the developers make it controversial in some way. Don’tCensor need to understand that ill-intentioned developers are exploiting them by deliberately making their games controversial as a form of advertising and they get this daft vocal group to back their games.

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...