Head Shots

Why is Valve's decision to keep Steam open so baffling for some?

YouTube
Spoof image of Gabe Newell in wildfire throwing discounts around
Steam Summer Sale - The opening minutes

Valve's decision on keeping Steam an open platform, without any policing governed by emotional states of whomever, whenever, has encountered friction from the most unlikely of sources, including journalists, which saddens us to the core.

Let's face it, once journalists start calling for censorship, you can bet your behind there's something foul afoot. Well, either that, or they're really disingenuous with their motives. How did we get to this though?

Well, the entire ruckus started with a charity's insistence on Valve taking down the controversial game Active Shooter, which simulated a high school shooting. The developer Revived Games was eventually booted from Steam, although for different reasons altogether.

Steam has been under a spotlight since, not least for their confusion regarding whether to allow games with sexual content on the platform. And just like that, world and dog gave themselves the legitimacy to decide, or even worse, force Steam to decide on those fine shades of right and wrong.

Valve replied in a monumental fashion, or at least we think they did. In what's certainly one of the most admirable examples of a large company tackling an extremely sensitive problem, Valve decided to err on the side of openness, which is effectively the gamer's side.

So who should be allowed on Steam? "Valve shouldn't be the ones deciding this. If you're a player, we shouldn't be choosing for you what content you can or can't buy. If you're a developer, we shouldn't be choosing what content you're allowed to create."

I swear, somebody should engrave this on the first tablet of gaming. Valve have never looked bigger in my eyes, yet their decision doesn't seem to sit well with everyone and I'm having trouble comprehending why.

Isn't it in the interest of every gamer to make their own choices? Isn't it in the interest of every developer to creatively toy with every concept, regardless of how someone may find it offensive or what current circumstances suddenly make it a taboo?

ValveSpoof image of Gabe Newell in wildfire throwing discounts aroundSteam

The pro-censorship train keeps hooting at titles such as AIDS Simulator, as if it was the source of all the bad in the world. I happen to have a very dark sense of humour, so I immediately chuckled and even wanted to download the game.

Why? Well, first, because I thought it was developed by Eric Cartman. Secondly, the game's description is just as funny as the name. "Asset Flip, Very short, Poor performance, Zero effort cash grab". "Graphics: Doesn't matter, the game runs like crap even on Titans".

Now, how is that not funny? And even if it doesn't sell a single copy, why would it not exist? If we make feelings the driving force behind censorship, we will be diluting the entire medium of games, until it's nothing but a socially acceptable soap opera. I don't want that. You don't want that.

Thankfully, not everyone is against Valve in this, with Brenda Romero being among the first to stand in Valve's defence. "I am against any form of censorship, and support Valve in having an open platform", she tweeted.

Replying to VG247's enquiries, Romero said that "some of our most important works have been deemed highly offensive by broad swaths of the world. Games like GTA, Wolfenstein, DOOM, Mortal Kombat, Bully (same sex kiss), God of War (sex), The Sims" have all indeed kicked up quite the dust when they launched. Most of those controversies are laughed at now.

Much like that phrase incorrectly attributed to Voltaire, Romero concluded by saying "To me, it comes down to this: I may not like your game, but I support your right to make it." Amen sister, amen.

AltCharSpoof image of Gabe Newell in wildfire throwing discounts aroundSteam