Chaturday: The Seeming Lack of Non-Trolling Offensive Games

I’ve been thinking long and hard about Valve’s new policy regarding offensive games and how this could negatively affect their user base, by which I mean I haven’t been giving it much thought at all. My attention, however, has turned to the idea that Steam will be flooded by horrifying, bullying, aggressive, abusive, games designed to be abusive and bullying, because the media told me to prepare for it and when have they ever published sensationalist material?

If you consider the history of offensive or controversial games, the list is actually pretty small once you filter out the titles that were deliberately cobbled together in a week by a guy using pre-built assets. A guy whose motivation is little more than a stupid joke for his friends or to intentionally bait the games press into writing outrage clickbait about his title, thus increasing its sales potential from zero to three because such coverage rarely results in sales if the game is genuinely awful.

Even then, what you are left with is a pile of games that were controversial for other reasons than its direct content, like Persona 5 bullying streamers or Baldur’s Gate pushing a low quality expansion. You just don’t see serious developers, or even semi-serious indie devs, trying to create games in the same vein as Active Shooter Simulator. As incredible as it may sound, there isn’t much money in that sort of controversy, and the negative blowback can be more damaging than any potential sales revenue. Just ask Konami what it thinks about Six Days in Fallujah.

Which leads us to the group that will for the most part be making these games: Tiny fly-by-night indie developers that nobody has ever heard of before, virtually indistinguishable from the troll accounts. If a game like Active Shooter is submitted again to Steam, would it even be given the consideration that it might not be a troll title? Or Gay World? I have my doubts.

I suppose the goal here is two-fold to discourage troll developers: You’re spending $100 to submit a game that has a high chance of being flagged and dumped as a troll game and you’re not getting that $100 back. If, by chance, the troll game gets through the initial screening, odds are it will either be drowned in the sea of Steam games and nobody will see it or the wrong person will see it, raise a ruckus, and we’re back at square one.

Will that discourage trolls? Hell no, and to further my point I point toward the Something Special for Someone Special, a wedding ring in Team Fortress 2 that broadcasts a global message to all servers upon activation. The ring costs $100 and that price hasn’t stopped thousands of people from purchasing it and some using it to broadcast messages like “Anne Frank has accepted Adolph Hitler’s apology ring,” because those messages aren’t checked. $100 for a joke is nothing for a large swath of people, even if the payoff is people see it for five seconds and then it’s gone.

The developer behind Active School Shooter denies that his game was meant to troll the public, a claim that ultimately falls on deaf ears considering his previous list of published titles including White Power: Pure Voltage and Tyde Pod Challenge. Most trolls will deny that they are in fact trolls, meaning Valve will need to use their critical thinking skills to determine if the next Active Shooter Simulator is a troll game.

On second thought, Valve only declared the game a troll title because of its association with Ata Berdiyev, so we might be doomed in that department.

Otherwise I have no opinion on the matter.

You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.