Valve's new content policy is a gutless attempt to dodge responsibility

Company's willingness to profit by selling racist, sexist, misogynistic games speaks volumes about its values

Valve has spent years trying to lower the barriers to entry on its digital storefront. From its initial hands-on curation process to the community-voted Steam Greenlight to the current just-pay-us-$100-and-go-wild model of Steam Direct, the company has been consistent in its push to allow more games from more creators on the storefront.

Predictably, that has caused some problems, one of which has been the question of what kinds of content will Valve tolerate in its store. That question became a pressing one lately when the company sent warnings to a number of visual novel developers insisting that they tone down their risqué games or see them removed from Steam. This came as a surprise to many of the developers, considering their games were arguably less graphic in their sexual content than many other indie and AAA games happily occupying unchallenged slots on the Steam storefront.

At the same time, Valve was allowing a store page for Active Shooter, a game that allowed players to step into the role of a school shooter and rack up kill counts of civilians and police. In the wake of yet another school shooting in the US, Active Shooter was drawing widespread condemnation and the sort of mainstream coverage that gives the industry a black eye. (And in this case, a well-deserved one.) Valve eventually pulled Active Shooter's page from the storefront and banned the developer.

There is nothing so racist, sexist, misogynistic, or reprehensible that Valve will step in and say, 'You know, maybe we shouldn't be helping these people spread their message and profiting from it in the process.'

But it wasn't that Valve took issue with the content of the game; instead it found that the developer had previously been banned from the storefront for abuse of the platform and returned under another name. In explaining the Active Shooter decision, Valve said it would clarify its stance on what sort of games it would allow on the storefront soon. It followed through on that today with a statement that--after a waffling preamble about how hard the problems are and how its own employees don't agree on what to do--explained it wouldn't really be doing anything.

"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. Those choices should be yours to make. Our role should be to provide systems and tools to support your efforts to make these choices for yourself, and to help you do it in a way that makes you feel comfortable.

"With that principle in mind, we've decided that the right approach is to allow everything onto the Steam Store, except for things that we decide are illegal, or straight up trolling."

There are a few simple problems with even this approach. First, it means Active Shooter (or a game like it) would probably be allowed on the storefront. There is nothing so racist, sexist, misogynistic, or reprehensible that Valve will step in and say, "You know, maybe we shouldn't be helping these people spread their message and profiting from it in the process." If you have problems with hardcore pornography, that's going to be allowed in a lot of jurisdictions, too. It's pretty much everything goes from here on out.

Second, it might seem odd to see Valve rule out "things we decide are illegal," since there are plenty of governments around the world set up to make exactly those decisions. (Incidentally, does anyone know if Counter-Strike: Global Offensive is still available in the Belgium storefront?)

Third, Valve prohibiting games that are "straight up trolling" once again introduces the sort of subjective call that the company absolutely abhors making. If I were using that as a criteria for banning games from the store, you can bet games like ISIS Simulator, Suicide Simulator, and Asset Flip Simulator would have been instantly booted rather than hosted on the storefront for months. The upcoming AIDS Simulator (from the same developer) boasts the following tagline:

"Welcome to Africa, you've got HIV! Now you're mad and want to kill all Africans that gave you aids to get revenge. AIDS Simulator is a very short first-person shooter with boring gameplay, bad graphics and generic assets."

But where I see straight-up trolling, Valve I imagine must see a valuable perspective and artistic expression worthy of supporting (minus its 30% cut of the revenue, naturally).

The logistics of enforcing this new policy aside, my biggest problem with Valve's approach is related to a passage a little later on in the company's statement:

"So what does this mean? It means that the Steam Store is going to contain something that you hate, and don't think should exist. Unless you don't have any opinions, that's guaranteed to happen. But you're also going to see something on the Store that you believe should be there, and some other people will hate it and want it not to exist.

Valve's values reflect on the rest of the industry, for good or ill. And that's a problem, because the Active Shooters and AIDS Simulators of the world should not be the face we present to the world

"It also means that the games we allow onto the Store will not be a reflection of Valve's values, beyond a simple belief that you all have the right to create and consume the content you choose. The two points above apply to all of us at Valve as well. If you see something on Steam that you think should not exist, it's almost certain that someone at Valve is right there with you."

Frankly, this is nonsense. Valve does not get to have its cake and eat it, too. This is absolutely a reflection of Valve's values. Yes, the company values people having the right to create and consume content of their own choosing. It values that so much more than it values people who have survived a school shooting, or people who have lost their friends and family members to them. More than it values an entire continent of people being demonized on top of an epidemic on top of a history of exploitation. More than it values its position as a representative of the medium of video games. More than it values basic human decency.

Valve has made its values abundantly clear time and again. And as a dominant player in the PC gaming space, its values cannot help but reflect on the rest of the industry, for good or ill. And that's a problem, because the Active Shooters and AIDS Simulators of the world should not be the face we present to the world.

And if not for Valve, they wouldn't be. Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft would never be associated with these games. I don't think any ESA member would, because they all either recognize that these games are awful and have no place on the industry's mainstream platforms, or simply because they understand it's bad business to put the Nintendo Seal of Approval on glorifications of child murder or racist genocide for entertainment's sake.

But Valve doesn't. All Valve understands is that it doesn't want to make a choice and draw a line. It doesn't want the responsibility of being the biggest platform for PC games on the planet; it just wants its 30%.

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Latest comments (30)

Michael Ball3 years ago
A newspaper's publishing of an opinion article is not an endorsement of the opinions held within that article. Why do you believe it's different for the games Steam chooses to allow onto its platform?
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Eyal Teler Programmer 3 years ago
A colleague of mine told me yesterday (and I paraphrase): 'US liberals are all for freedom of opinion, as long as the opinion is theirs'. He may be on a different side of the political map from me, but I think that this applies well here.

I think that Valve does well to allow freedom of expression on Steam. If a game truly crosses the line into illegal territory, then Valve says it will deal with it. If people have a problem with a specific game, I think they should take that dev to court. It's not Valve's job to play censor.

What I do think is necessary is a clear separation of adult games from other games. Steam currently makes it very easy for anyone to access any game. While the blog promises better tools, including the ability for parents to control what their kids can access, I suggested elsewhere that Valve separate the site completely into the normal plus, and similarly have two clients, only one of which allows accessing adult content. That would make playing adult games a deliberate user decision, and make it clearer to others (such as parents) when users are playing adult games on steam.

This would require some more oversight, applying ESRB or PEGI ratings to all games, or something similar. That would be beneficial, IMO, allowing users to do what Valve wants them, which is to wisely choose what to play or even see in the store. I think that Valve should take giving users the power of discrimination a lot more seriously, if it's willing to let most anything on the store.
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Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic 3 years ago
Once again, gaming believing it's special.

Does Amazon condone the view of "Where's the Birth Certificate?: The Case that Barack Obama is not Eligible to be President"? Does Waitrose condone the consumption of alcohol and cigarettes? Does my local mini-mart condone pre-marital sex because it sells condoms and lube?

It is, undoubtedly, a side-step that Valve have done. A manoeuvre designed to force themselves out of the conversation. And there are (or will be) undoubtedly games which we wish Valve would remove because of their indecency. And there will no doubt be ways to pressure Valve on certain games, just like advertisers have been pressured to remove themselves from advertising during various Fox News shows. But Valve absolutely have the right to "have their cake and eat it too", because this is a business - just like Amazon, just like Waitrose, just like my local mini-mart. To argue otherwise is to argue "videogame exceptionalism".

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Morville O'Driscoll on 7th June 2018 10:52am

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Show all comments (30)
Chris Payne Managing Director & Founder, Quantum Soup Studios3 years ago
Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo maintain walled gardens precisely to protect their brands. They make the choice to curate the content on their platforms to reflect their corporate values (for quality as well as content). Valve's choice...also reflects on the company.
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Yeah, I gotto say a little to much effort has been made into making out that gamers need to be handheld and prevented from choosing their own titles, you can get books on nearly anything, even if most of them are shallow and poorly written, also there are TV shows and films to cater for nie every taste, many of which I find tasteless, some horrifying though probably not in the way the creator's intended, but I would not get anywhere were I to start a TV network then ban every single "housewives of" show around, no matter how distasteful I might find them.

Yet somehow 18 rated games have been literally banned from sale in many stores and digital storefronts, despite having R18 films that could make a billygoat loose its lunch right next to them (frankly some that can do that are R15 nowadays), gaming will never mature as an entertainment category unless it plays by same rules, that means commercial companies should not as a general rule be the judge and jury for a titles release, nor does allowing a title for sale on a platform count as an endorsement of the content, the availability or lack of therein of distasteful material does not remove said distasteful trait from society, this is basically a problem of education and upbringing.

I'm not a great fan of censorship, and with any luck games with distasteful themes such as racism simply will not sell well, the makers will go bankrupt and be forced to re-examine their hollow shell of a life, and if they do that's a problem for society as a whole not just games, pretending they dont exist wont make them go away, bear mace ... that's a better option :p

Btw the author of this comment neither encourages nor endorses the use of bear mace, and no responsibility for incidents will be accepted :D
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Marc Christian Espinola Berestein 3D Animator 3 years ago
I’m really glad a giant like Steam offers such variety of video games, regardless some people disagreeing with the content. Always keeping the mind open is key for what we are doing here: art.
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Helder3 years ago
Good on valve. Best news to hit gaming in a while, in my opinion. Let me make my mind on what kind of media I choose to consume.
The fact that this is controversial is pretty weird, the fact that the entire games media is against this is even weirder, but such is the times we live in, where those who proudly wear the badge of moral authority find this outrageous and seem to be hell-bent on censoring what kind of media the public is allowed to consume.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Helder on 7th June 2018 5:27pm

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Dariusz G. Jagielski Game Developer 3 years ago
The problem with this article is that you either want Huniepop, etc. on Steam or not want things like Active Shooter (which as I've personally confirmed wasn't made by berdyev, despite what Valve's saying) or AIDS Simulator. One or the other.

Censorship is slippery slope. Sure, right now you may want to take down stuff like AIDS Sim or Active Shooter, but what next? Games that you don't like because of what devs' worldview is? Or because they angered your favorite politician or news anchor?
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Andrew Jakobs Lead Programmer 3 years ago
@Eyal Teler: Nah, wouldn't want 2 different clients, but I do think it would be better to have a separate section for those games, and only allow them to be visited with a verified account (like any mature game).
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Daniel Trezub QA Analyst, Ludia3 years ago
Is "Empathy: The Game" on sale on Steam right now? Oh, wait, there's no such game. That can explain a lot of the souless comments here...
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Keldon Alleyne Strategic Keyboard Basher, Avasopht Development3 years ago
Censorship is slippery slope. Sure, right now you may want to take down stuff like AIDS Sim or Active Shooter, but what next? Games that you don't like because of what devs' worldview is? Or because they angered your favorite politician or news anchor?
This is a non-sequitur.

It's like saying, "bread is a slippery slope. If you let people sell bread, what next? Selling crystal meth to teenagers?"

This supposed slippery slope only exists in a fearful imagination. It's like that silly idea of gateway drugs. Real world doesn't work like that.
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Markus Hofer Creative Director, BLACKISH3 years ago
I'm on Valve's side. You being easily offended should not prevent others from publishing their work. Even people with bad taste and stupid ideas should be able to express themselves freely.
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Helder3 years ago
@Keldon Alleyne: and this, is a strawman.

Look, all people are saying is that giving anyone the power to censor content is a bad path to go down, simply because the sensibility line is a blurry one, and what's offensive to me may not be offensive to you. You're entitled to your opinion that certain pieces of media are offensive and foul, but you're not entitled to dictate or make the moral judgment of what kind of media the public should consume, that would start getting in the freedom of speech and freedom of expression territory, generations of human beings have fought and died for the liberties we have today, to take power away from tyrants and put them in people's hands, and saying that such power shouldn't lie in people's hands because it could offend them is a fallacious argument.

In the end of the day though, Valve is a business and they can run it as they see fit, if you don't agree with it, vote with your wallet, in the modern society its where the true power lies.
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David Canela Game & Audio Designer 3 years ago
@Keldon Alleyne:

I'm afraid your rebuttal of the slippery slope argument is flawed. While you're right that the slippery slope argument is often abused, in this case of "censorship", it is indeed very appropriate, here's why:

In this case the only lines similarly clear to selling bread vs. meth are whether you sell legal games or illegal ones, a distinction Valve is going to keep making. Beyond that, though, it's super muddy waters and to properly assess the fish that swim in them in an intellectually serious manner would take a large amount of work (considering games can be much longer than movies, for instance) and any such assessment would still be super subjective and culturally tinted. In such an environment, making errors of judgement and slipping down the slope is extremely easy.

Hence, it is a valid concern, and in an activist age of twitter-mobs and shitstorms, it honestly takes zero imagination to think of special interest groups trying to exert pressure and de-platform stuff they don't like, it just takes a little memory (regardless of whether you agree or disagree in any specific case).

Ultimately, that doesn't mean a totally hands-off approach is the right way to go in these current times, but I disagree with dismissing this slippery slope censorship argument as a factor. While I wouldn't place any bets anymore that our societies are resilient enough to endure the downsides of maximizing free speech, the alternative has its own risks that go beyond ruining artists who didn't deserve it, but actually providing rhetorical ammunition precisely to the kind of people that make curation so tempting in the first place.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by David Canela on 7th June 2018 11:25pm

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Michael Ball3 years ago
@Daniel Trezub: Whatever personal struggle one might have for me to empathize with, the ideal process of overcoming it probably doesn't involve the removal/blocking of products from a digital games distribution platform.
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Klaus Preisinger Freelance Writing 3 years ago
Aids Simulator:
A product trying to connect with the audience on a raw emotional level, whilst `promoting itself akin to 1970ies exploitation cinema. Beyond that, most things on screen are murdered.

Plague Inc.:
A product which uses a very abstract visual language to create an intentional emotional disconnect from what you are doing: murdering the entire planet in cold blood with planned precision not seen since Nazi Germany.

God of War:
A product which tries to pass off feel good family values as a justification for, once more, slaughtering everything in your path.

So what is your poison then? Being cheap, loud and gross out? Being sociopathic? Being the hypocrite? Or is it a matter of production value? Was the U.S. Army's mistake not filming My Lai in 70mm cinemascope?

Having thought about it, Valve is right not trying to be a content police driven by the online puritan police. If real legal problem arise, Valve has a good track record of resolving them. But historically speaking, the limits imposed on Valve came from governments, never from civilians gathering on online platforms. The developers of porn/violence games have no problem with it, the consumers have no problem with it, the governments have no problems with them, so why should Valve? Neihter me, nor the pope, not anybody in between is going to change that. Which is good once you think about it. Most importantly, do not pretend wanting to protect people once you realize they do not want to be educated by you and do not listen to you..
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Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic 3 years ago
Re: Active Shooter, the article should be updated with this
"We rejected Active Shooter because it was a troll, designed to do nothing but generate outrage and cause conflict through its existence," Valve communications boss Doug Lombardi said.
This is in addition to the article's stated reason that
it found that the developer had previously been banned from the storefront for abuse of the platform and returned under another name.
so even if the developer hadn't violated Valve's Developer ToS, it would've been removed anyway.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Morville O'Driscoll on 8th June 2018 12:49am

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Bonnie Patterson Narrative Designer, Writer 3 years ago
The question is what Valve is willing to "deem illegal", given that they operate across many, many countries with radically different laws about acceptable material for public consumption, including hate speech.

It's worth noting the actual definition of hate speech. It's not about what material might be considered "offensive" - no one legislates for hurt feelings. It's about material that is intended to intimidate protected groups, or to whip up fear, resentment and hatred of those groups, or that could not be reasonably considered not to do that. An example of that might be something like using the myth that African immigrants all have AIDS without pointing out anywhere that the myth is untrue.

The big disconnect between older generations and technology tends to mean that games only get assessed on their content if they're sent for rating review or pointed out by a barrage of outraged parents, and games don't have to be rated to go on sale. So part of the reason Steam hasn't had more legal issues is simply because no-one's reported some of their content to anyone outside Steam itself.

Requiring games to get a rating before publication - and actually displaying it on the store page - might be a good step in weeding out the blatant neo-nazi propaganda and other actively illegal content, but I'm not sure how much that costs and whether it would viable for indies. Ideally, this could be combined with a parent-targetted education program that explains how not all games are suitable for an eight year old.

And let's face it, a lot of this crud is just someone cobbling together a game that they definitely intend to be racist/misogynous/homophobic and then selling it on the merit that "If you buy this, you are fighting against the evils of Political Correctness! (If you do not give me money, you are a liberal cuck.)" And then they scream either "Misandry!" or "White Genocide!" and claim censorship when you point out that it's turned out to be exactly what they intended it to be in the first place.

Obvious trolling is obvious. But what's also obvious is that nobody at Steam ever looks at many of the games they publish, so how they plan to filter out content that's illegal or trollish without actually looking at it...

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Bonnie Patterson on 8th June 2018 1:56am

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Adam Campbell Product Manager, Azoomee3 years ago
The problem I have is that there still isn't a clear policy. So it can't really be a win for anything.
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Danilo3 years ago
I am with Valve. Freedom above all. And they said that illegal games and trolling (Offensive) games will still be banned. So, racist, sexist, misogynistic is in the trolling (offensive) side in my opinion. But games with sexual and mature content should not be censored.
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Keldon Alleyne Strategic Keyboard Basher, Avasopht Development3 years ago
@David: The reason why the slippery slope is unrealistic is because we all possess the cognitive capabilities to differentiate the two.
it honestly takes zero imagination to think of
Sure, we can all think of it. Doesn't make it any more realistic. These are all irrational fear-driven positions that are very far fetched.

It is in effect saying, if you take one step in the direction of censorship, then no matter how ridiculous continuing in that direction is, or how far removed the feared outcome is from one step, it is a reasonable likelihood because of the small step.

It ignores all specifics about the real-world concerns and considerations themselves, and only looks at the one thing, censorship. But given exercises of censorship are not just done for the sake of censorship, the real-world motivations must be taken into consideration.

And when you compare the feared outcome to the current use-case for censorship, it is unquestionably an unrealistic fear.

@Helder: A strawman argument is when you defeat a position your interlocutor did not take as if it was their position, then conclude that your interlocutor's position has also been defeated. That is not what I did. What I did was translate the non-sequitur to illustrate how unconnected the two conditions were. It is very easy to mistake an analogy or illustration with a strawman argument, but they are not the same.
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Zidaya Zenovka Blogger, Writer, freelance artist. 3 years ago
"A libraries willingness to encourage literacy by lending books some of which feature racist, sexist, and misogynistic subject matter speaks volumes about its values".

I'm all for less racism, gender-based hate and believe people should respect each other more but if you expect me to get behind banning art I don't agree with you're not going to get very far. If someone doesn't like a game they can do the mature thing and not buy it. One persons racism is another persons parody. Unless something is against the law or outright racist propaganda I'd rather Valve let the consumer do the deciding what content they wish to see and what content they don't. I can't help but wonder how you'd react to a book burning at a branch of your local library. I bet you'd be the first on there decrying 'censorship' yet here you are encouraging a form of it.
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Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic 3 years ago
I posted this in a couple of the Era threads on the subject. I think it's an interesting enough post that I'd like to share it here, too:

I think the argument that
Valve would allow a game that actively promoted racism as one of its core themes to stay on their store.
is actually going to drive the "are games art?" discussion way further than anything before it.

If a game is "designed to do nothing but generate outrage and cause conflict through its existence" then it'll be kicked out on grounds of Trolling (this is what happened to Active Shooter).

But what if a game generates outrage and causes conflict as a by-product of its existence, even if its themes are fairly overt? D. W. Griffith's "Birth of a Nation" is, well, pretty crazy:
The film's release is also credited as being one of the events that inspired the formation of the "second era" Ku Klux Klan at Stone Mountain, Georgia the same year; it was used as a recruiting tool for the KKK, along with the trial and lynching of Leo Frank for the 1913 murder of Mary Phagan in Atlanta.
In 1992, the Library of Congress deemed the film "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" and selected it for preservation in the National Film Registry.
And Amazon are selling the Blu-Ray release. Is it full of hateful content? Well, from everything I've read, yes (I've not watched it). Yet few entertain the idea of banning it entirely, and The New Yorker actually raves about it, in both raw technical terms, and in emotion:
The shot of a former slave-owner, under siege by a posse of freedmen for his son’s membership in the K.K.K., holding his grown daughter by the hair and raising his pistol above her head—he’s preparing to kill her if the blacks breach the door—has a harrowing and exalted grandeur that surpasses the film's specific prejudices to achieve a classical moment of tragedy.
Again, though, there's no doubt that it promotes racism, as I note above. Even the SPLC notes its influence:
Sooner or later just about every Klansman worthy of his robe sees the silent film classic Birth of a Nation,
Lost in the outrage and the obfuscation of "all alt-right games are going to be allowed" is the horrible fact of life that problematic work should be allowed to pass through for sale, based on artistic merits and wider cultural value. That's why it's problematic. If people stopped with the extreme idea that
people who commit hate crimes, tend to have been active in promoting hate speech in many different media's prior to committing the crime.
and looked at this with more nuance, maybe we'd legit be able to start thinking about the lines where artistic merit in videogames start and stop.

Also, as an aside:

Everyone's assumed every single Valve member of staff who vets Steam games is pro-LGBTQ, pro-sex, pro-consent, pro-abortion, pro-tits (anime or not) - the Western Liberal ideal, essentially. What if they're not? What if some people are fine with LGBTQ, but against abortion? What if they're pro-sex work, but not pro-porn? Anime tits were bad a few weeks ago, but The Witcher's tits were fine - why was that, hmmm? This side-step of Valve's forces all content to be appraised the same, regardless of who is considering it. And that's a stronger force for good (liberal values), than for bad, I think.

Edited 3 times. Last edit by Morville O'Driscoll on 11th June 2018 5:27am

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Bonnie Patterson Narrative Designer, Writer 3 years ago
Here's how you get a book into a library.

First, you have your idea and write your manuscript.

Then you package up an outline, a cover letter and a sample chapter and send it out to agencies, looking for one that will represent you. The agents read your plan and sample, and if they think it is publishable - if it's well written, likely to sell and is legal in your particular zone of publication, they will start to show it to publishing houses.

With the agent's recommendation behind it, the publishers will read it and, if it's good enough, assign an editor to work with you to bring it the rest of the way up to snuff. If you try to include material that's too alienating to your audience, too unethical for the publisher to print, or over the line into hate speech, that editor will take it out. This does not mean they eradicate all variance of thought - argument is not the same as hate speech, but if you want it to stand as argument, it actually has to be based in facts.

There is no point in free speech unless you have something to say that is in the public interest.

"I like to pick on minorities so I can feel special and important and show everyone that I am better than gay/trans/black/women people" is not in the public interest.

Once the publisher has agreed to publish the book, they send out trade copies to the buyers for various bookstores. The buyers read it and if they feel it is suitable, they order x copies for their various branches etc.

If it sells enough copies or gets good enough critical reviews from reputable sources, someone from the board of a library or group of libraries will then order a copy and again, they will read it. If it meets with their approval, it will finally wind up on the shelf where your hypothetical burning can happen.

(Also, FYI, local libraries don't have branches any more, not enough funding).

Now, let's look at what it takes to get a game published on Steam:

1) Write game
2) Pay fee
3) Press upload.

Steam has not said anything, as yet, as to what their definition of trolling is or what guidelines they will issue to staff about identifying such products in a consistent manner.

Nor have they said anything about hiring more people to review incoming games - evidence to date suggests that only a few games are checked by Steam staff before they go on sale. There have been numerous reports of games in the cheap seats that have gone on sale when they don't even run, and that is a far clearer line to draw than trying to judge whether they normalise myths about minorities that make it acceptable, in the minds of some, to be discriminatory or violent against them.

Because that's the crux of this thing. As I've said a million times before, it's not about what offends people.

It's about what kills them, and that's been happening more and more recently.

Of course, games don't create monsters out of players. But just like any other form of media. if they repeat a common trope often enough, people just accept it as the truth. And a lot of those tropes have been rearing their ugly heads recently. And being accepted.

Just look at the way that hate crimes have been climbing in the USA over the last two years. It's not that people in political authority are going out and beating muslims, or trashing transgender people's homes. They're not even saying directly that it's OK to do those things.

But they are pushing the tropes that allow people to believe that these hate crimes aren't crimes, but heroic vigilantism. The ideas bubble around in the depths of the mind, and for those who are subconsciously looking for violence, they bubble to the surface like this:

"If you keep muslims out of the country, muslims in the country must be a threat. If they're a threat, it's OK to stop them."

"Ban transgender people in the military? It must be because there's something wrong with them. If there's something wrong with them, it must be OK to beat them down."

"Of course the black kid must be a gang member with a gun."

"Of course the brown guy hates America."

"Of course it's not rape to suddenly switch to anal with your girlfriend."

"Of course the transwoman is trying to trap you."

There are better stories to tell, and they're easy to see if you only bother to look at other people.
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Jeff Kleist Writer, Marketing, Licensing 3 years ago
@Bonnie Patterson: Valve hasn’t hired actual customer service agents, take weeks to solve the simplest issue via email for their “highly qualified”staff, and have phone support only in Australia, where it took a court order to get it established

Why would they spend money on such things as people to review content when they won’t spend it on things companies a tenth of their size consider mandatory?
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Bonnie Patterson Narrative Designer, Writer 3 years ago
@Jeff Kleist: For once, I don't actually disagree. If Steam is a storefront, it should provide the services necessary for a store, including accessible customer service. If Steam is a publisher, it should perform the functions of a publisher, including quality filtering and legal management of its content.

Amazon is a decent example of a company in the same position, allowing content from any source to be added freely. The difference is that Amazon have staff and additionally, selected a set of customer reviewers considered "reputable" and instituted a program to reward them for examining the content and quality of author-published material on the site. It's not perfect either, but someone somewhere has at least made an effort to think through the potential problems.
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Jeff Kleist Writer, Marketing, Licensing 3 years ago
@Bonnie Patterson: I’m glad we agree, I don’t think I phrased it quite right. Valve has a long history of spending as little money as possible on anything, so basically I was trying to point out that they won’t spend money on this ;)
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Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic 3 years ago
@Jeff Kleist

Cannot speak for the Aussie phone support, but the rest is out-dated info/misinformation:

Typical response for Account Security & Recovery is the longest at 1.50 days. Yes, I know emphasis on typical, but regardless a far cry from your "take weeks to solve the simplest issue via email".

Late Edits:

There have been numerous reports of games in the cheap seats that have gone on sale when they don't even run
Incorrect reports. This has never happened with a game on initial Steam approval. What has happened is that either there's been a mistake during the patching process (I think there was a Ubi game where this happened) or unscrupulous developers have very specifically changed the depot after a game has been released.
The difference is that Amazon have staff and additionally, selected a set of customer reviewers considered "reputable" and instituted a program to reward them for examining the content and quality of author-published material on the site.
As you note, Amazon isn't perfect, but their standards are just as vague as Valve's have been. We can all agree that Birther books are racist, correct? And we can all agree that Birth of a Nation must be, if it's used as a Klan recruiting tool? And I would say that both examples assuredly fit your statement that
just like any other form of media. if they repeat a common trope often enough, people just accept it as the truth. And a lot of those tropes have been rearing their ugly heads recently. And being accepted.
Yet Amazon still sells them. Amazon's storied cast of content reviewers are fine with the deeply racist ideals held within.

I absolutely agree that "there are better stories to tell" and that Valve need to do more to promote them, and help the consumer find them. But I also think this conversation lacks nuance until we can point to the game equivalents of Birth of a Nation or Atlas Shrugged (non-Bioshock version), and ask questions about what, really, is acceptable in gaming.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Morville O'Driscoll on 12th June 2018 2:48am

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Jeff Kleist Writer, Marketing, Licensing 3 years ago
@Morville Yes, a response, where someone cut and pastes you a form letter. To get a real, human written response has taken a minimum of three emails. My minimum interaction from initial email to resolution with Valve support has been seven days, the maximum four solid weeks. I’m sure I still have the emails if you really need proof. This is simple, idiot stuff like “you patched in the serial for this old game, and I need to it to get tech support, so please tell me since it doesn’t show up in Steam” The latter was a case of buying a game from BestBuy and one of their employees has helped himself to my serial, and they had no more copies. It took four weeks, despite all required information per the faq being in my original submission, to have it assigned to my account.
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Tak none, Abertay University3 years ago
Writing a bunch of nonsense. Do people who think these adult games should be removed actually played the games themselves? All of them are censored and there are no 18+ contents on steam. 18+ patches are released exteranlly outside of steam, fan made and even some of them doesn't have it

So stop bringing up bullshit and makes excuse trying to get rid of what ppl enjoyed. what we enjoyed is none of your concerns, we get you have girlfriends and such great but not all of us are lucky. some of us are bound to be alone for the rest of our lives and we don't need people who act all high and mighty babysitting us.
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