So as many of us know, Steam has recently launched its “Greenlight” program, allowing developers to submit their games and ideas to Steam’s playerbase, leaving the gamers to vote for the ideas that they want to see featured on Steam the most. Games that are approved will be available for purchase within Steam’s online store, allowing previously lesser-known developers to reach a wider player base with their projects.
So it goes without saying that when No Reply found out that their erotica simulation game, “Seduce Me”, had almost immediately been pulled from the Greenlight program, they were understandably upset. It was claimed that they violated Steam or Greenlight’s terms, but the only thing close to applying in the terms is a vague “No offensive material” condition on their submissions.
No offensive material?
Steam’s store is littered with games that feature graphic language, violence, and sex that surround a “greater” storyline. But if someone wants to release a glorified erotic dating sim, suddenly that’s crossing the line?
In the article linked above, Miriam Bellard (co-founder of No Reply) was quoted as saying that she felt their game was turned away because games are still seen as made “for children”, whereas a Valve spokesperson claimed that Steam has never been “a leading destination for erotic material.” Both of these arguments are ridiculous, and for the same reason.
Videogames are not seen as “for children” anymore except for a smaller, older percentage of the population who just don’t understand the appeal of games in the first place. While many big-shots at the head of publishers might not understand that their market has grown and expanded beyond what they believe their market is (18-25 year old white dudes with tiny penises), many common people do not believe that to be the case.
To claim that your videogame was discriminated against because Steam only wants games for “children” is ridiculous. Steam offers a large variety of games that use all level of ratings, and obviously an “M” rated game is not meant to be played by children.
However, to say that allowing Steam to sell “Seduce Me” on their marketplace will cause it to be the “leading destination for erotic material” is also nonsensical. As mentioned before, Steam has games that feature sex and graphic violence within them, and somehow that’s okay. While there is a difference between something like Dragon Age’s sex scenes and the sex scene shown briefly in “Seduce Me”’s trailer, it does not change the fact that those themes exist within the merchandise that they sell.
The United States is no stranger to mixed messages when it comes to sex and sexualization. People argue constantly about whether or not breast feeding should be considered as decent or allowed in public, even though the mother might be trying to do so in front of a billboard that features a half-naked underwear model. A politician attempted to deliver a speech in front of a statue within a government building that had one breast exposed in an entirely non-sexual manner, which lead to a public outcry. I caught My Bloody Valentine 3D on TV last year and was greatly amused at how they had edited the scene where Harry Warden attacks the couple having sex in the Love Motel. Any scenes featuring sex were cut, and any shots with the ass-naked woman running away were carefully cropped. But showing Harry Warden thrust a pickaxe into the back of a man’s head to conveniently push his eyeball out to display the “eye-popping” (sorry) 3D was perfectly fine. I watched Harry Warden shoryuken a dwarf woman into a ceiling with a pickaxe, but I couldn’t watch another woman’s boobs jiggle helplessly as she attempted to get away.
It’s easy to compare that to the behavior that Steam is showcasing now—feel free to showcase hundreds of people getting slaughtered (no matter their affiliation or alignment), feel free to attempt to rape Lara Croft, but heaven forbid we showcase a game that involves interacting with women and engaging in consensual sex and have that be the object of the game.
Let’s say that Seduce Me did happen to get voted to be sold on Steam—what damage does that do to Valve, aside from involving a demographic that probably has a difficult time finding good games of that genre? Even if Valve were to include an “Adult” section to their current catalogue, what difference would it make to anyone else? No one calls Barnes and Noble a rotting cesspool just because they happen to feature erotica, or a gay hangout because they sell Gay&Lesbian titles.
I can understand a bit of concern about the possibility of younger children getting easier access to adult games, however Steam (and most sites, for that matter) does not allow anyone younger than 13 to have their own account. An added level of password protection to adult games on the account could prevent access by children on their parents’ accounts, and stricter age verification could prevent any wandering eyes or purchases. If parents are unable to control their children beyond that, they have bigger problems beyond whether Jr. might have access to pseudo-pornography.
Clucking your tongue at Seduce Me for having graphic sexual images while advertising a sale on a Game of Thrones game (which features incest) or The Walking Dead (which has a scene where one of your friends is cannibalized) is just immature. Not to say that I’m surprised by immaturity from anyone within the gaming industry, but it’s especially disappointing.