How Valve's Hands-Off Approach Allowed the Homophobic 'Gay World' on Steam


#1

CW: This story deals with some aggressively homophobic content and depictions of sexual violence.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://waypoint.vice.com/en_us/article/7xeyvg/how-valves-hands-off-approach-allowed-the-homophobic-gay-world-on-steam

#2

Yeah it turns out coddling a toxic audience where a rich transphobic british-identity creep’s been on the front page for half a decade, obscuring your private business practices in a way that happens to not harm you nor the worst of your audience, then responding to that audience misusing your terrible voting system for their toxic bullshit by saying they can just pay to spread it instead is…

Going to result in some heinous bullshit!

Side note: There’s a game with Steam Workshop support that was front-and-center of that tab last month called “feminazi: the triggering”.


#3

A community is strong when it back by strong leadership and systems. Steam lacks that with how they easily approve games with questionable quality and allow groups hold negative views. Yeah, there still a lot of good games that are able to push these trash games out of view but it still pretty bad that their on the system at all.


#4

steam is a place where you can find a game called One Dark Night (the free one , not the 3.99 one) that let’s you relive the night Trayvon Martin was murdered by George Zimmerman. That game has been up there for over a year!

Fuck Valve

Edit: Not only do they refuse to take down all the repugnant shit on their storefront they profit off it to!


#5

This has been a problem ever since Greenlight and I’m frankly astonished Steam hasn’t attempted to moderate itself since then.
They have so much money and few if any current video game projects, I think they can bring on a storefront team to process game submissions, or at the very least change how their storefront is accepting games.
Unplayable games, asset flips, bad mobile ports, a million survival / minecraft (and soon to be pubg) clones, games filled with hate-speech or otherwise themed to harass marginalised people; in the words of sad robots: this cannot continue.


#6

They asked Jim sterling to come over to show him that they are looking to fixing the problem after he talked so much how steam has a problem and how he had to fight in court with a dev when the dev got angry at him. Obviously that was just some front news.


#7

Ye, any dive into the “Steam community” shows that it is technically illegal under German and French law so… I do wonder when that’ll be picked up and they’ll be forced to do at least some moderation of fascist iconography.

There appears to be no will to actually moderate anything (and reports from the community translation project shows that even when Valve take an interest in something like this, it seems to be based around unpaid labour and poor/abusive management) on Steam and that means the open store for anyone with money is going to end up with exactly these issues.

They boast about being one of the most profitable companies per employee. There is no excuse for inaction (or excusing this as the necessary consequence of creating a store that doesn’t block many creators from finding an audience - far bigger stores with a far more diverse selection of goods have been created on the internet without this level of problems with scams and hate speech).


#8

Exhibit AAB why I’m no longer buying games on Steam and moving as much as I can to Humble and Good Old Games.

Neither of which are perfect, but neither of which actively support, publicize, empower, and coddle the worst pieces of shit on the internet.


#9

No it’s been a problem since the Steam community feature was added where Valve refuses to pay people to actually moderate their platform. Pick a handful of terrible slurs then do a search and see how many results you get.

This isn’t something new it’s just finally being brought up.


#10

I was mainly talking about the swaths of unmoderated games appearing on the platform, we’ve known for a long time Steam aren’t sufficiently moderating their community features, that’s super awful too.


#11

Ye, the blaming of Greenlight or less restricted access for developers who don’t spend a fortune going to the right event to shake the right hands is part of a wider problem in games culture (which this horrible stuff is part of).

Someone who makes their money off YouTube ads where they go to find “the worst of Steam” or similar is no more laudable than the similar clickbait stuff that does “look what I found on sale on Amazon”. It’s value-free trash content that is designed to inflame an audience and demand that these evil developers be locked out of a place where they can openly advertise their games.

“Why can’t we have a curated store with only a few releases each week?” Because more than a few teams release a game every day and almost all of them aren’t making hate speech or scam products and so deserve access to major stores which should solve the curation issue for their customers (finding the things on their infinite shelves that are most likely to be something each individual user wishes to buy, ensuring that games are easy to find via name and that anyone trying to game the search system to mislead are prevented from doing so, that copyright infringers are purged from the system and can’t just come back next week with the same people but under a new name). The problem is not that games are being made and appearing in the store, there are infinite shelves for digital products and consumer protections should exist to make using them safe.


#12

And that store actually exists and is called Gog. :smile:

My personal advice, if you can buy games from itch.io you should consider it. They’ve done a pretty good job of catering to indies and giving them good tools to work with. I haven’t seen it be a problem on there yet but I would like to imagine the people running that would not allow their platform to turn into the cesspit that is the Steam Community. They even have a nice looking client for downloading games.

I used to think it was the Steam friends feature that was keeping me tied to the platform but now that I’ve switched almost completely over to Discord I find that to be not the case.


#13

I probably already posted about this at some point, but a few years ago, I looked through the Glassdoor reviews of Valve out of curiosity for what the working culture there is like. One frustration expressed frequently in negative reviews was how the company does internal performance reviews when it’s a flat structure with no traditional supervisors to look over your work.

The general gist is, everyone is assigned one random other employee to review their work over the past year. And that person will be anonymous, so you won’t know who is handling your performance report. The Glassdoor reviews describe several problems with this, chief among them: because you don’t have a known entity to present a performance report to, your work needs to be immediately tangible and heavily visible so your handler will notice it.

My impression from what they described is, this and the flat hierarchy creates a work culture where iteration and upkeep are largely discouraged in favor of starting and finishing small new projects that have a clear impact on the company’s bottom line, because the latter is going to be far more noticeable than the former for your handler.

This explains a lot of things about their actions and priorities as a company, such as why they’re constantly introducing new features and mechanics into their platforms like Dota/TF2/Steam but almost always abandoning them right afterwards. And also why they seem completely disinterested in spending much time filtering out extremely low-quality software or moderating their communities for bad actors.

Even if that particular system isn’t a direct cause of these issues, it’s still indicative of the culture problem with the studio that leads to a slow degradation of their existing platforms, and I don’t see that culture changing until it starts to severely affect their bottom line (i.e. you should try to avoid buying through Steam if at all possible).


#14

What’s this about?


#15

TotalBiscuit’s been a top curator, appearing on the front page of Steam, for around four or five years now.


#16

Yeah. We ban the use of the totalbiscuit lul emote in our twitch chat for a reason. No time for gamergators


#17

My personal advice, if you can buy games from itch.io you should consider it. They’ve done a pretty good job of catering to indies and giving them good tools to work with. I haven’t seen it be a problem on there yet but I would like to imagine the people running that would not allow their platform to turn into the cesspit that is the Steam Community. They even have a nice looking client2 for downloading games.

Agreed. I’m a huge fan of itch.io as a platform. There’s a lot of cool stuff on there. And it’s a great way to support devs a bit more directly.


#18

itch.io doesn’t take the kind of cut Steam does from their devs, either. The few times I glance at the storefront and find something i want to support, I try to check itch.io for a listing.

The culture itchio’s cultivated just produces far more interesting content more regularly. The masturbatory “real games or shitposts” mindset doesn’t dominate the same way there, so you get both aesthetically and mechanically more experimental stuff more frequently. Plus “free” tends to mean far less insidious & more rad shit than it tends to mean on Steam, even shovelware feels less gross/exploitative on the whole.

Itchio’s aight. Got its own problems and suspicious happenings, but its economy isn’t built inseparably upon those issues.


#19

I would have asked which rich transphobic british-identity creep.

Honestly, a lot of the time it feels like Steam and Valve never left the caustic juvenile gaming community of 2008.


#20

You know, as much as pointing out what a shitty company Valve is (and they really are) is important. As I was reading this article, I was thinking “this space also could’ve been used to write about a game from a marginalized person who’s work doesn’t get any attention”.

As I said, I get that it’s important to point that stuff out, but to me it feels that much more time is spend talking about bad games on Steam, than it is trying to lift up work that might actually deserve some more attention. I know this is also part of a larger issue about what type of reporting gets more attention and what have you, but I’m really, really tired of this stuff.

I don’t have a real solution here either, but maybe if you already mention stuff like this, also at least put out an article about a small game that hasn’t really been talked about? That would be really cool.