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VR News: Steam to Allow Adult Content

by Beth Divine 7 Sep 2018

This story first broke in June 2018, but it is worth commenting on as it invites some discussion on how far a hosting platform should go to control the content available on its site. How much control is too much, and how much freedom does it take to overstep the bounds into dangerously enabling territory?

Steam, and its owners Valve, came under fire recently when a school shooting game, called Active Shooter, was released. In the game, players prowled a school, armed to the figurative teeth and with a simple mission – kill as many children and teachers as you can, with presumably bonus points for hitting certain targets. Following a barrage of protests – understandably, given that America’s last school year was plagued with so many active shooters in schools that it almost became not-news – the game was pulled, with the platform referring to the game’s creator as a ‘troll’. Which surely he or she must be? Who, in their right mind, would ever think that such a game could be considered okay even for one second?

However, notwithstanding this entirely sensible bit of censorship, the powers-that-be at Steam and Valve have decided to tweak their controls, just a bit. The site now says that anything goes, as long as it is not illegal or ‘straight up trolling’’. This means that adult content is in, as long as it portrays nudity and sexual activity in a consensual and reasonable manner, and despite the worries of gaming site Rock Paper Shotgun’s blog that the decision was ‘jaw dropping’ and that: ‘Unfortunately, this also means they’ll likely be taking a similarly hands-off approach regarding wildly sexist, racist or homophobic content.’ Uh, no, guys, because wild sexism is usually trolling or troll-based (trolls don’t get laid enough, all that pent up sexual tension turns into keyboard aggression, rape threats and ‘your mom’ jokes, don’tcha know?) and racism and homophobia are both crimes. Which makes them illegal. So, adult content, yes, go for it; hate crimes, no thank you, not today (or ever, to be honest…)

The founder of the now-owned-by-Facebook Occulus, Palmer Luckey, approves the move, tweeting ‘Bravo,’ to Steam, adding ‘This policy is going to be a huge boon for VR software, particularly adult content. Getting onto a platform with visibility and reliable payment processing is practically a pre-requisite for success in the games industry.’