Today Steam launched their new community features to a limited (50,000) audience of active Steam gamers. For those that need some background Steam is the direct distribution online store run by Valve, the company behind Half-Life, Portal, Left 4 Dead, and a bunch of other hugely popular franchises. Steam is basically the place for PC Gamers to buy and play games.
Steam has been overhauling lately and has been working on making Steam more of a community. This is accomplished by letting people vote up people’s screen shots and videos, ultimately leading to the highest voted being featured on the game selection screen. I think this is a great idea, and shows people what the community is up to with their games. A lot of times people will have neat screenshots that will sell you on a game better than a press screen.
This is also where the problem lies as evidenced by the current Steam community features, all we care about is getting to the sexy bits of games – WARNING: There is probably some stuff here you don’t want your co-workers seeing, so not safe for work and all that stuff!
Lets start with an Elder Scrolls Classic –
If we can look past the borderline racist character creation that has taken up the featured spot, you will notice that The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion’s shining moments involve lacy lesbians and dead women.
If this doesn’t sell you on Oblivion, I don’t know what will.
Let’s move on to another favorite of this past year:
Well we do know what gamers want: ass shots, breast shots, and dead parents. Who cares about the cool designs of the Joker, Bane, Killer Croc, Mr. Freeze, Hugo Strange, etc. we have Harley Quinn in tight leather pants!
If nothing else, at least the Batman: Arkham City community page has some deep and insightful discussion …
Grand Theft Auto 4 – Tales from Liberty City
It seems that high fantasy RPG’s are taking the cake for the most boobs in their community pages, as was pointed out with Oblivion and as we move further onto:
Vampire: The Masquerade Bloodlines isn’t really in the fantasy genre but it is a long drawn out RPG and ends with the same result of lots of community boobs.
But not everything is all breast shots, we also have some unintentional (maybe intentional) hilarity:
I don’t seem to remember the part of Super Meat Boy where we get a strange-looking black man in bondage gear, but I never did 100% it so maybe that is my gift for doing so!
So the first day of the beta is over and the community has shown us why we can’t have nice things. It probably also may have made Valve rework their Steam Greenlight program that lets the community vote in games to be available to purchase on Steam. Considering the response to community pages, we can expect ‘Boobfest 2014’ to be the top voted game on Greenlight. But to be fair that is why these things go in to beta to see what the initial response will be as well as finding the bugs.
I’m sure they will eventually find a way to make the community pages more kid/normal person friendly as time goes on — I’m also pretty sure Valve doesn’t want developers seeing their projects plastered with smut. I’m sure a shining example is that Half-Life 2’s community profile is plastered with nude pictures of Alyx. I really doubt Valve wants this to be how their property is represented.
What this does perpetuate is the perception of the general mentality of gamers. There have been plenty of reports out there of racism, sexism, violence against women, exploitation, and the list can go on and on. So the community has spoken, and their idea of a funny joke is throwing up tits, asses, and screenshots that may not even be part of the game mentioned. Some of these games, like Batman, do actually have those scenes and angles so I suppose it is only fair they be shown.
I’m betting Valve is going to have to do a lot of thinking about how to keep this type of practice in check. They will probably have to start only allowing screenshots only from the actual game in the community spotlight. They may also do something about pictures from mods, but the Steam workshop is a big thing so you don’t want to restrict that. Regardless they are in a bit of a tight spot as far as what they want to do, and how the community will respond to it.
The community revamp is a good idea, and one they needed to do. While Valve has made most of their business decisions and profited greatly from taking the best of the community, they should also know there is a terrible and useless underbelly to that as well. Opening up game voting and game representation to every person is probably not the best idea because as we can see, a few people can ruin it for everyone: