Showing posts with label comments disabled. Show all posts
Showing posts with label comments disabled. Show all posts

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Why I'm not super excited about Valve's new Steam policy

In case you haven't heard: Valve recently announced it won't attempt to moderate the content on Steam anymore except when legally required to, or when it's "obvious trolling", whatever that is.

On the face of it, this is supposedly a net-win for queer people and marginalized creators. Supposedly I'll be able to publish as much dick as I want! But after many years of dealing with platforms, and their intentionally vague policies and selective enforcement, I've grown extremely wary of these many public statements that promise to do better, and then never do. Even if this new policy is for real, I can easily imagine a future where Valve suddenly changes its mind to disallow my games -- I'm used to being treated as a "controversial" edge case in games, and all these companies have successfully trained me not to trust them or take their word for it.

There's a lot to unpack in Valve's post, and you can read a lot of different editorials all around the internet for the full scope of those ideas. Personally I'm not interested in regulating "spam games" or "asset flips", and my analysis will focus more on my experience and attitude in using Steam as a developer.

I think one big problem with "Who Gets To Be On The Steam Store" is that it doesn't recognize how some developers are more On The Steam Store than others.

Monday, July 14, 2014

If you see something, say something

I was telling my sister about Cards Against Humanity and the rape allegations against Max Temkin.

I told her I now felt strange about accepting a free flight / hotel from them to attend GaymerX and show my half-baked game in their sponsored room. Before, I had thought of it as part of their attempt to make things right, after they finally removed the totally unacceptable "date rape" and "passable transvestite" cards from the game -- and if they were going to commit substantial time, energy, and resources into this community, then maybe that would allow for some healing? After all, I had only had fantastic interactions with the extremely helpful CAH production staff at the expo. (I am still extremely grateful for everything Trin and her team did for me and the other developers.) However, it's safe to say that their intended redemption narrative has now been somewhat derailed...

My sister said it reminded her of American Apparel ousting Dov Charney, where the institution had to rescue itself from toxic thinking and behavior, and that was the only way to do it. I disagreed with that comparison. Charney was totally unrepentant, while Temkin at least made some attempt to internalize feminism, even though he ended up getting it horribly wrong. Doesn't learning involve making mistakes, even horrific mistakes?

Yes, my sister said, but none of that should shield him from criticism... and she's right. Here's some good criticism.

The more cynical will say he consciously wore feminist language as armor to deny responsibility -- and the vast majority largely want to stay silent, whether because of CAH's clout / influence or because "there's no proof" or "there's enough drama already" and so on... but saying nothing already means you're speaking in favor of how things currently are.

So, uh, I wanted to say something. But I'm not really sure what to say, because it's not clear what reconciliation might look like? Like, okay -- I agree that he screwed up in a really big way. I don't think anyone wants to destroy Temkin. Not even the person he hurt wants that. Now what?

Should he write another post where he apologizes for his non-apology, and is that enough now? Should CAH try to sponsor anymore games events focusing on diversity and inclusivity, or would their involvement now compromise the safe space of that event? What does it mean to create a safe space in games? Can we separate Temkin's words from CAH, and if we can, then what does CAH as an institution think about this? Why was Temkin's statement wrong, and what can we educate people about it? How do the women who work for CAH feel about this? What is the current thinking about how best to practice consent? How do we read all this, next to the ongoing dialogue that happened in and around GaymerX?

Here's my bold idea: some game journalists could do some reporting on this because there might be a story here? And then journalism can serve its vital function to inform a community and promote civic discourse!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013


It's not much, but it's what I can do:

I promise not to attend PAX, ever again, in any capacity.

I promise to advise my peers and colleagues not to attend PAX, ever again, in any capacity.

I promise to help organize / build / support new institutions and communities, to try to replace PAX and counter its owners' poisonous influence on its fans.

I can't promise that my actions will matter. They probably won't matter. But that's partly the point of a promise.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Greenlight, briefly.

$100 is not a huge amount of money to me. It's okay if it's not a lot of money to you either. Being rich and having privilege is not a crime -- however, being oblivious and insensitive is a crime, or at least unethical. You should own your privilege: understand what that means and understand that others have much less or much more.

As game designers, you should already know that it doesn't matter what a rule was intended to do. It matters what a rule actually does.

And when a lot of indies are brave enough to admit they're poor, and say that this rule discourages them from submitting to Steam for their best / only chance at some semblance of financial security based on their very good and deserving work (look at any indie's released sales numbers and the pie chart looks like Pac-Man with a nearly closed mouth; that is Steam's market share) -- when they say they are in pain, I am not going to tell them their pain is their own fault, or that their pain is imaginary, or that they're better off with their pain anyway.

Poor people deserve to make and profit from games too.

So please don't shut people out, because that's just one more door we'll have to kick down.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Further Reading for "Gay (But Not Gay)..."

I'm probably going to regret bringing up the "Gay (But Not Gay) Characters in Video Games" thing all over again.

However, I feel obliged to relate the whole matter to a somewhat recent "post-gay" article and the ensuing criticism. And then there's that whole snowballing mess that is GLAAD.

I believe that no non-crazy person disputes the necessity of having some LGBTQ video game characters.

Rather, the debate, I think, focuses on how they should be represented and what kinds of gays are most deserving of representation. This is the same debate taking place outside the sealed vacuum that is video games, in a small but growing civil war within our fabulous ranks.

... Of course, Jim Sterling is still wrong.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

On All That Gay Stuff: A Statement

I, of all people, have the least interest in getting typecast as "that guy who always complains about gay stuff in video games." However, the combined weight of Rock Paper Shotgun and Jim Sterling's vast and powerful Twitterverse have motivated this statement... (plus, I'm getting bored of arguing about this)

0) To everyone who can't fathom how I could so horribly misconstrue Jim Sterling's words: have you forgotten the 3rd image he posted in his article? You don't remember? Well, here, let me link you to the image of a man getting fingered, with an effeminate anime-style gay male character photoshopped on top.

That is the face of your beautiful, tolerant, post-sexuality paradise: it's riding on a steady undercurrent of homophobia and revulsion of what gay sex represents. Wait, no, you're right: Jim Sterling included that image because he wants you to like it and be tolerant! Of course.

... or is his point that gay sex is funny / gross, so video games should avoid it -- because only normal people should have normal sex, right? However, let's assume that image is completely innocuous and Jim Sterling means completely well, as so many people have assumed for some reason. Okay: