Patrick Klepek has a post up on Waypoint, discussing a homophobic game that unsurprisingly managed to get onto Steam. He sums up Valve’s issues with content moderation very well. I’ve trimmed the quote just to remove the name of the game.
…is a symptom of a larger disease. Steam’s “new releases” tab is full of trash, and while you can be generally sympathetic to Valve wanting to allow all sorts of creators an easy path to publishing on their enormous platform, it doesn’t absolve them of the responsibility to make sure it’s a platform that doesn’t promote hateful speech.
The MRA garbage I wrote about last year, Dating Lessons, is still up on Steam as well. Anyone working at Valve should be embarrassed to have their salary funded by getting a cut off of sales of this trash.
A few weeks ago, Mic Fok got a weird email. The person writing it claimed they’d been playing Overwatch on a PlayStation Network account for more than six months, but the password had changed recently. But why would Fok know anything about this random dude’s account? As it turns out, they’d “purchased” Fok’s account through a website called PSN Games, one of many businesses trafficking in the selling of cheap games by sketchy means.
The individual who bought Fok’s account was an Overwatch fan named Bennett Eglinton.
“Hello I purchased overwatch from psngames.org and this email was used as the account info,” reads an email from Eglinton, sent in early March. “However the password I was given for the PlayStation Network sign in no longer works. Did you happen to change it? Can I get the new info.”
As Patrick mentions in the article, this is a great reason to use unique passwords everywhere with a password manager. I use and recommend 1Password despite them switching from standalone purchases to a subscription. You should also use the free Have I been pwned? service to check all of your email addresses for public account credential leaks.
Patrick Klepek interviewed the developers of Homefront: The Revolution who are surprisingly still updating the game almost a year after it was released. This comes as a shock because it was received poorly by both the critics, and while it found some audience, most of the gaming public as well.
I’m mostly interested in the game because it’s set in Philadelphia. Not many games are set there, usually choosing more recognizable cities like New York or San Francisco which was the setting for the first Homefront game.
Watching Austin Walker’s quick look of Homefront: The Revolution when he was still at Giant Bomb was heartbreaking. It seemed to lack any flavor of Philadelphia, no genericized Philly Frenetic, and it was just an unfinished mess of gameplay ideas borrowed from better games.
Hearing that the game is still being updated is a bit of solace, maybe there is something in there worth playing the next time it goes on sale.
“When you have big red letters on your profile announcing everyone you have a ban, the experience is never going to be good,” said Oliveira. “If you don’t suck at a game, they will right away point a finger at you and accuse you of cheating. You get told so many times that ‘Once a cheater, always a cheater.’ I knew I did it, I knew I would never do it again, and I wanted to prove that that was not me. But how do you do that? How will they believe you? Yeah, no. It’s the biggest badge of shame a person can have in an online world.”
Oliveira found himself taunted when playing games, years after his initial offense. He couldn’t shake the stink, and Valve offered no recourse. He was, for at least seven years, a cheater.
Bizarre to me is that everyone interviewed agreed the policy was generally acceptable.
This program lacks nuance. Policies against cheating are good, but without more granularity in enforcement it’s kind of ridiculous. Someone who cheats at Counter-Strike for ten minutes shouldn’t necessarily be punished the same as another person who cheats for a month.
A few years ago I asked at a Valve GDC booth for job-seekers if they ever had room for online community managers. It’s not surprising the Valve employee thought the idea of them hiring an online community manager was ridiculous after reading this article from Patrick. The one-size-fits-all kind of anti-cheat enforcement has the stink of developers making community decisions all over it.
Now we know where Patrick Klepek went. In a post for Vice Gaming, with fellow Giant Bomb alumnus Austin Walker, Klepek confirms that the rumored variation of the Playstation 4 with improved horsepower would be announced on a very busy September 7th:
Sony will reveal the first details on an upgraded PlayStation 4 at a September 7 event in New York, French gaming website Gameblog reported today. VICE Gaming can confirm that it’s heard the same information from multiple sources familiar with the planned rollout for the new machine. These sources chose to remain anonymous because they are not authorized to speak publicly about Sony’s plans.
It is with a heavy heart that I begin to say my goodbyes, readers. It’s been an honor to be part of Team Kotaku for the last two years.
Today is my last day at Kotaku. Tomorrow, a new journey begins. Though I can’t talk about where I’m headed yet, if you follow me on Twitter, you’ll know soon. I’m staying in journalism, building on my work over the past decade, but my byline will appear elsewhere. It wasn’t an easy decision, a sign I’d made a good decision to start writing for Kotaku in the first place. You were part of that, too.
I’ve been lucky enough to work at some truly memorable places over the years, but my time at the last two stops, Giant Bomb and Kotaku, have been the most gratifying yet. In various forms, from reporting to podcasts, I’ve done my best work because I’ve been surrounded by people who pushed me to do better.
Can’t wait to see what Patrick does next. It has been entertaining to watch his career go from a new guy at 1UP to an extremely well-regarded writer for Giant Bomb and Kotaku.
Patrick Klepek has this fascinating article covering two developers who come to find they’re working on almost the same premise for a game:
Perception, where you play a blind person who taps a cane to see around them, was revealed last week. Soon, an email went around indie studio Tiny Bull. “Panic started to spread among the team,” said CEO Matteo Lana. Why? Tiny Bull had been making Blind, a game with the same premise, for more than a year.
It all started when a Tiny Bull programmer was surfing new Kickstarter projects and came across the one for Perception.
“He sent me a message saying ‘Hey, this game looks a bit like our game.’” said Lana. “And I went ‘No, that is our game.’ It was a bit hard. It was quite a blow at the time.”
This kind of thing happens all the time, a few years ago it was the “year of the bow” when every game coming out seemed to feature bows and arrows regardless of the setting. Even Battlefield 3 added a crossbow. Is this the year of indie games with a visual aesthetic that can’t be played by people who are actually blind? Fortunately there are other developers who make games where all the gameplay is aural.