ANY­THING LE­GAL AL­LOWED ON STEAM

Apart from trolls, ob­vi­ously…

Maximum PC - - QUICKSTART -

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.

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