We Let Valve Monopolize PC Gaming and Now Steam Sucks

When Steam first launched, everyone hated it.

Looking back, it’s not hard to see why. Steam was notoriously unreliable, buggy, awkward to use, and would often spend a million years patching before letting you into a game. In addition to all of that, it was required to play Valve games like Counter-Strike and Half-Life 2. At the time, the idea of having to load an external program to play a single-player game was unthinkable.

Yet in time, Valve managed to make it work. They fixed up the service, included a number of new features, got large companies and indie devs alike to release their games on steam, and offered numerous sales. For a while, it looked like Steam was going to save PC gaming. It was good for developers, it was good for modders, and it was good for customers. Nobody could imagine a future where Steam wasn’t amazing, and Valve wasn’t the savior of PC gaming.

So why does Steam suck now?

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The Cost of a Hobby: Why Let’s Players Are Using Patreon

As more and more LPers resort to using Patreon, arguments over whether they should do so or not continue to crop up.

For a long time, people have debated whether doing LPs should just be considered a hobby, or if people should make money off of it. The argument against making money off of LP videos was that LPers were simply using footage of games other people had made, rather than creating original content. But is that really true? Many LPs go above and beyond just showing footage of the game, and modern LPs are often more about the LPer than the game. In addition, many developers have expressed an interest in LPers covering their game, as it tends to raise awareness of the game.

Even so, there are people who feel that LPers aren’t true creators, and feel they shouldn’t monetize videos or use services like Patreon. An argument I often hear suggests that Patreon is intended for artists, writers, and people creating original content, not people talking over a video game. I’ve also heard people argue that making LP videos isn’t a real job, as it does not require much work. However, this argument tends to ignore the time and money investment involved in making an LP. Let’s quickly break it down.

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The Unnecessary Failure State

For as long as I can remember, people have naturally accepted that games must always have some kind of failure state.

If you take a fireball to the face in Mario, you die. If you get bit by a dog in Contra, you die. Run out of lives and it’s game over. You have to restart the level, or world, or sometimes the entire game.. The punishment for not doing well in a game is dying, and many people will measure a game’s worth by how often it made them die and go back to a checkpoint. For as long as there have been games, there have been deaths, game overs, and fail states.

So why is this?

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Pillars of Eternity and the Language of Transphobia

Update: As of writing this, the joke has been patched out of Pillars of Eternity

TW: Transphobia

Transphobia exists in every aspect of our culture, right down to the words we use to describe trans people.

There’s been a bit of commotion as of late surrounding a certain transphobic joke which showed up in the game Pillars of Eternity. The Mary Sue did a write-up on it which explains it far better than I could, so I won’t harp on the actual joke too much. What I do want to talk about is what it represents, and how it ties into the term “trap” and its usage in gaming and anime communities. The basic gist of the joke was that a man slept with a woman, found out she used to be a man, and was so horrified that he ran off a cliff.

People leapt at the opportunity to defend it, of course, and on a basic level I can see their argument. It’s just a joke, yeah? They don’t really mean anything by it, it fits into the time period in which it occurs, and it doesn’t really harm anybody. These all make sense, if you simply take the joke at face value, within a vacuum, out of any greater societal or cultural context.

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The Problem With Toxicity and Cynicism in Video Game Criticism

Criticism is inherently cynical.

A critic’s job is not to just blindly praise a work, but to analyze it and discuss both positive and negative aspects of it. This is how art criticism has worked for a long time, and has been seen in criticism of movies, books, TV shows, music, paintings, statues, and just about any form of art. And yet, video game criticism is often not just cynical, but toxic and overwhelmingly negative. Many self-proclaimed video game critics view criticism not as a means to analyze a game and discuss it, but to punch it down and ruthlessly mock it for the amusement of others.

Now, this form of criticism exists in other mediums. But most of these critics are open about what they are: comedians. Their job is to make fun of things and joke about it for the amusement of others. But this doesn’t mean they don’t like a thing. They are simply making fun of it for the amusement of others.

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