13 minute read

Steam Reverses Decision to Remove Pornographic Games

Last Updated: November 4, 2020

Abby Willmarth

Abby Willmarth has worked with several anti-trafficking organizations to educate and mobilize churches and individuals to fight trafficking. Over those years, she began to see just how many ways trafficking connected to porn. Now she works at Covenant Eyes to create educational content that helps people find freedom from porn. She lives in Michigan with her husband and two sons.

The online gaming store Steam, owned by Valve, distributes thousands of video games for Windows, Mac, and Linux. A combination of faster distribution to consumers, a versatile suite of tools for game development, and more relaxed content and licensing restrictions makes Steam very popular with independent developers in particular.

However, these benefits for indie game developers also mean that many Steam games contain nudity and sexual content. Some even give their players the ability to rape, sexually coerce, and commercially exploit women. Because of the sexually exploitative content this platform hosts, the National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE) named Steam on their Dirty Dozen List.

In mid-May, Steam announced they’d be cracking down on the pornographic content available on their platform. They told certain game developers to remove the sexual content from their games or they’d be removed from the Steam Store.

However, yesterday they reversed this decision, stating their new policy is to “allow everything onto the Steam Store, except for things that we decide are illegal, or straight up trolling.”

According to Valve, “Taking this approach allows us to focus less on trying to police what should be on Steam, and more on building those tools to give people control over what kinds of content they see.”

It also allows them to continue profiting from these games that promote sexual exploitation.

“Steam’s decision to allow any pornography into their environment is disheartening,” says Ron DeHaas, CEO of Covenant Eyes. “We know the negative effects of pornography and exploitative content, but regardless of the detriments, Steam has decided this content is OK. By allowing such interactions in their games, they normalize sexual exploitation.”

“I was hopeful with their prior position that the world at large was experiencing an understanding of what we have always known to be true: pornography and sexual exploitation are directly connected, and every action should be taken to prevent exposure to such content. I hope that Steam will reverse their decision and realize that they have an opportunity for their impression on the minds of many to build up society rather than exploit it.”

Dawn Hawkins, Executive Director of the National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE), also states, “Companies across all industries—including Google, Hilton Worldwide, RevContent, and more—have made intentional strides to refrain from perpetuating sexually exploitive or degrading messages against women. Steam has taken the opposite approach, and has decided to give a green light to the sexually violent and degrading games on its platform.”

For those interested in asking Steam to stand against the sexual exploitation of women, NCOSE has provided some easy action steps you can take.

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  • Comments on: Steam Reverses Decision to Remove Pornographic Games
    1. N.L. on

      Good day to you.
      I am N.L., a person who enjoys gaming. I also have a strong enough moral fiber to stay away from games that promote obscene messages and communicate an overall disdain for humanity and traditional relationships.
      Therefore, Steam’s decision to not bother to monitor the ‘maturity’ of the content that is sold on their platform is not surprising. It is disappointing.
      Steam’s decision is disappointing because it is a video game market that is accessed by millions of people over the country and perhaps the world, a market where major big hits can be found as well as niche titles that draw in respectable audiences and revenue. Due to its library and popularity, Steam would be known as the market to go if one wanted the latest in new releases and upcoming ones; any game, franchise longevity notwithstanding, has the potential to be the next favorite title.
      And for me it was; if it weren’t for Steam I would not have discovered well-done indie titles, big-name games and classics that I could enjoy for the first time in my life. Steam was a library where there was rarely a day that I didn’t discover something new about it.
      But those days are gone now.
      You know, it’s one thing for the developer of the market (Valve) to design and potentially release a game that puts the player in a shooting role, in a school of all settings. It’s another thing to not care about exposure to sexual content and even other adult elements like drug use, unbridled violence and the filthiest language in the entirety of the English language being in games marketed on Steam (and a large number of them don’t even have ESRB ratings! Also they’re ‘novel’-genre games; that is, games where all you do is make choices and decisions while character portraits talk. Some decisions/choices have you look at a still picture to emphasize whatever situation is going on at that point in the game).
      This is why I deleted my Steam account, and while I have cut off all access to games I know I will enjoy, this is worth it because it’s my sanity and moral fiber on the line; in this era of #MeToo, in this era where more than ever, video games are in the line of fire for driving individuals to do despicable things like shootings, in this era where what it means to ‘love’ and ‘be proud of one’s physical figure’ and even the individuality of women are constantly having their meanings rewritten over and over, it isn’t worth it to be a customer to a market that would care less if, thanks to the controversial games on its platform, someone’s life is permanently changed for the worse.
      And while one may think it’s only games that objectify females/see females raped is the major concern of using Steam; that is, use the platform and if you’re browsing content to buy/download, one of such games may pop up in the search results or recommendations, trust me, it’s just the tip of the iceberg. Before I continue, let me say that if you don’t know what a ‘furry’ is I am so pleased for you (and I hope I haven’t made you curious enough to even want to know what one of those are). Why I’m mentioning this is important because the sexually deviant games aren’t the ones that objectify/disrespect the female figure; there are those where the main player can flirt, fall in love with, and even do the disgusting with anthropomorphic animal characters. Also, these insidious games can be downloaded through their official sites, and for some reason the people that made these games to begin with market them on Steam, and the market’s pleased as punch to look the other way! As for how I know the games can be downloaded through their official sites, I know that because I paid a visit to them.
      Steam may think they’re staying on neutral ground with their decision, but where the dignity of females, of traditional relationships and human urges, and even humanity itself, is concerned, they actually have taken a side: the side where humans are nothing other than indiscriminate fleshbags whose sole purpose in their lives is to sexually satisfy other humans. And don’t get me started on ‘Parental Controls’ or whatever, because that doesn’t even solve the problem by a long shot; it’s nice to have so young ones and people that hate such adult content don’t have to deal with them on the market, but even those controls don’t extend to the market catalog. What needs to happen is a mass exodus of people from the video game marketing giant; gamers will have their interests, but a large number of them needs to know that objectifying females and designing them for the purpose of being sexually assaulted is a big deal, and cannot be ignored in a society where we’re seeing the likes of Bill Cosby, Roman Polanski and Harvey Weinstein pay the price for the sexual assaults they’ve committed and the dreams they’ve broken over the years. That same number also needs to know that the human body was never created to have sexual relations with non-human creatures, and there is absolutely no pride whatsoever in seeing oneself as some non-human creature, and even having sexual fantasies over them (We are humans for crying out loud; it is our kind that discovered fire, invented the light bulb, invented the telephone, built works of art like the Statue of Liberty, the Eiffel Tower, the Empire State Building; why lower ourselves to the appearances of creatures who care about nothing else than survival of their species and suitable territory to inhabit?). Also, video game developers that don’t make games for the purpose of sexual gratification or any other adult-themed reason need to be informed to sell/distribute their games through their official websites, or via other digital shops where the risk of running across such sordid content is really low (like the Microsoft Store… for now).
      Steam, through their decision, has made it clear to the people that rely on it for entertainment through gaming; they only care about profits, not doing their part to stem sexual deviancy and disrespect in the communities they operate in. Gamers, be they religious or non-religious, need to let Steam know that sexual content is far from OK to distribute with impunity on their market, lest they may have several PR problems on their hands, followed by a gradual descent into irrelevancy.

      Reply
    2. Susan Carter on

      My kid has Steam! What should I do?

      Reply
      • Chris McKenna on

        Hi, Susan – although this is an unfortunate move by Steam, there are pretty strong parental controls that you can use to limit exposure to these the more violent and pornographic games on Steam. You can follow these instructions for setting those up.

        Regards,
        Chris

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