ANYTHING LEGAL ALLOWED ON STEAM
Apart from trolls, obviously…
A GAME THAT WAS VIEWED by many as the height of bad taste, a simulation of a school shooting, called ActiveShooter, was pulled from Steam after a week of protests. However, the initial cited reason was not the offensive content, but rather the creator’s history of copyright infringement, review manipulation, and customer abuse. Not what we were expecting. This has led to Valve clarifying what it will—and won’t— allow on Steam.
The blog post includes this nugget: “We’ve decided that the right approach is to allow everything on to the Steam Store, except for things that we decide are illegal, or straight-up trolling.” And this gem: “The Steam Store is going to contain something that you hate.” It then pulled a few titles that, presumably, were straight-up trolling. These included AIDS-Simulator (not what you might think, but just as bad), ISIS Simulator, and Suicide-Simulator.
Steam is the world’s largest PC games distributor, so this is important stuff. It is trying to pitch itself as a conduit, rather than a gatekeeper, as do Google and myriad others. Content is controversial, rather than simply “bad.” It’s a tough call, and Steam has left its options open with the trolling clause, a suitably wide definition that will enable it to pull anything that draws too much heat, while still espousing free speech.
Valve has fudged the issue somewhat, but it’s difficult to know what else to do. It is clearly unwilling to act as judge and jury on all its content; this way it can at least weed out the most troublesome. However, its rather nebulous policy statement has pleased few in the process. And this is without touching on its inconsistent and often prudish view on sexual content (leading to some comical onscreen censorship), which looks as if it has possibilities now—it is legal, after all.