On Friday, I published a video where I talked about Valve’s new content policy. And I’m just going to state this up front: I understand why people are upset and I take full responsibility. The music /was/ too loud…. Nah. It’s because I obviously didn’t take the time to explain myself well enough.
Let me state this upfront: I believe that censorship of any kind is wrong. Censorship is evil. It harms everyone.
However, there’s big difference between censorship and quality control.
First, the thesis of the video was intended to be that what Valve has done is to intentionally mix up these two very distinct issues. Why? Because responsibility is hard and requires real, actual, human effort. And real, actual, human effort would cut into their profits. They also conflated these problems because they knew there would be fanboys defending their decision as a ‘stance against censorship.’ (When in reality, the fact that they will remove “trolling” or “illegal” content is the VERY DEFINITION of censorship, and quality control has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO DO WITH IT)
I don’t want Valve to censor controversial, but high-quality titles that have been in development for years, and are worthy of attention.
What I want Valve to do, is to merely say “No thank you,” to any random bloke with a free copy of Unity engine, a weekend of binge-watching a YouTube series called ‘Build your first Unity game’, and who lack ability or a single, original art asset.
In my last video, I used the terms “curation” and “quality control” interchangeably, and I feel like that was a mistake. When i said “curation,” I meant “quality control” in every instance.
Now, there were a ton of comments, tweets and direct messages from people who said my opinion was hypocritical for someone who believes in free and open source software. However, I believe there is fundamentally no contradiction here.
Quality control is what Linus does when he rejects patches to the kernel that break user space. Quality control is what your distro does when it decides “open source project X is too unstable to be included in our repo.”
Censorship would be someone preventing Linus from yelling at people on the kernel mailing list. He’s not censoring developers, and nobody’s censoring him. To conflate the two issues is grossly wrong. The only reason to confuse these two things is if someone in authority wants to justify their laziness and greed behind a smokescreen of free speech.
I’m not bothered by the fact that people think I’m a hypocrite, what bothers me are the people who feel I’m being disingenuous. I literally have no incentive at all to be dishonest with my opinion. I don’t say things to be inflammatory, and I don’t feel like what I believe is cynical, either. There’s way too much cynicism and far too many edgelords in this world.
I say what I believe on the channel because, well, I like to have a conversation with you. Conversation is important. And note, that I’m not some special snowflake who needs a safe space, I’m not a victim when someone calls me a name, and I don’t care what strangers think about me.
But a conversation with someone requires respect. If you believe that “anyone who disagrees with you is lying about what they think,” or you engage in name calling as a means of winning an argument, you’re not worthy of having a conversation with.
I was going to make a video out of this, but I’m done with this topic. So I’m posting it here for everyone to read.
Whether it’s activists fighting to get a title they deem controversial banned from the platform or incompetent developers submitting unfinished junk and cluttering up the storefront; it’s no secret that Valve has a content problem.
A new post to the official Steam Blog has shed light on Valve’s thought process regarding content on the Steam Store, and let’s just say that… well, I’m disappointed.
“The challenge is that this problem is not simply about whether or not the Steam Store should contain games with adult or violent content. Instead, it's about whether the Store contains games within an entire range of controversial topics - politics, sexuality, racism, gender, violence, identity, and so on. In addition, there are controversial topics that are particular to games - like what even constitutes a "game", or what level of quality is appropriate before something can be released.”
“...we ended up going back to one of the principles in the forefront of our minds when we started Steam, and more recently as we worked on Steam Direct to open up the Store to many more developers: Valve shouldn't be the ones deciding this...”
“...we've decided that the right approach is to allow everything onto the Steam Store, except for things that we decide are illegal, or straight up trolling. 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.”
If you’d like to read the full post, there’s a link in the description. They go on to talk about wanting to build tools that allow you to filter out content you might find offensive. They say they plan to coerce developers to self-categorize their content, and Valve will stop doing business with them if they’re found to be dishonest. And also mention that
I would like to point out how precisely Valve have chosen their words, here. They open by addressing the thing that has brought them such negative press; violent games. Without naming names, they were talking about, Active Shooter, which was a title on their platform that simulated a school shooting. In my estimation, it’s not the violent or controversial games that are the problem with Steam...
By creating Steam Greenlight and Steam Direct, they’ve opened themselves up to controversial titles from any old person… but the real issue is that any old person can get anything they want on Steam, even if it’s a non-functional piece of crap. So when they open their blog post by talking about “politics, sexuality, racism, gender, violence, identity, and so on,” they frame themselves as heroic champions of free speech--a neutral platform upon which anyone can have a voice… when really, the problem is that people with no merit or ability are clogging up Steam and hurting other, more deserving developer’s bottom line.
They summed up their post by saying:
“So what does this mean? It means that the Steam Store is going to contain something that you hate, and don't think should exist. Unless you don't have any opinions, that's guaranteed to happen. But you're also going to see something on the Store that you believe should be there, and some other people will hate it and want it not to exist.”
Again, their words chosen carefully; begging that cricitism of this policy should be cast as a call for censorship. Which it isn’t. I don’t care if there is tastelessly violent or sexual or politically charged content on Steam, so long as it’s worthy of being on Steam. What I want is for Valve to have standards. For games to be playable, and functional.
Valve’s laissez-faire attitude might be making them money for now, but it’s damaging their reputation. Despite what they might want to think, games on their platform reflect on their brand and show just what kind of company they are. Developers are moving to other platforms and not even bothering with Valve’s hands-off, anything goes frathouse of a storefront. And I don’t blame them.
Content discovery on Steam is a joke. They plan to build an algorithmic solution that shows you content you’re likely to want to see, but we all know how well that works. Don’t we? Don’t we? Don’t we?!?
So yeah, to summarize, I think Valve really needs to step up and have a minimum threshold of quality before we experience the PC gaming bust of 2019… but I want to know what you think? Are Valve being lazy or do you think they’re the white knights of free speech?
In a way, I kind of feel bad for everyone who works at Microsoft. It’s a zombie corporation. Dead, yet still somehow animated.
Today Microsoft is completely irrelevant in the technology world, by my estimation. They no longer innovate and have been totally left behind.
Their products offer nothing new: Office365 is a mere rebranding of Google Docs, Xbox One is a mismanaged hardware clone of the PlayStation 4, and Windows 10 is a Frankenstein's monster of desperately copied features from other, more well-received platforms… and, oh right, Microsoft doesn’t care about it anymore.
So when I heard that they wanted to buy GitHub, I kinda chuckled… then got a smidge worried.
Say what you will about GitHub… (and I know some of you are fairly critical of their platform...) but it has become a huge part of the software development landscape. Especially given that it’s a convenient web frontend for managing your software projects.
GitHub’s founder and CEO Chris Wanstrath announced his resignation in August and the company has been unable to fill the position, since. Mounting pressure and a high executive turnover has led Microsoft to open serious talks with the company over the possibility of acquisition. There are also rumors that Xamarin founder and Microsoft executive Nat Friedman might be a contender for the CEO job. Interestingly, Friedman currently helms Microsoft’s development tools division.
It’s unknown whether the talks are still ongoing, or if Microsoft is willing to pay the rumoured (and frankly obscene) 5 billion dollar pricetag for GitHub.
Update:Bloomberg reports that Microsoft has agreed to buy GitHub. No details yet, though they're expected to make the announcement as soon as today.
So, that’s what we know. And, now I want to take a second and explore some of the wildly successful acquisitions from Microsoft’s past in order to, uh… understand what a GitHub owned by Microsoft would look like? (Really, it’s just to make fun of Microsoft)
First, and the one that still stings the most...
A company with a nearly unmatched portfolio of outstanding games that, since their acquisition by Microsoft, haven’t released a quality anything. And Microsoft has fully squandered the intellectual (quote) “property” that came along with their buyout. Banjo-Kazooie? Nada. Conker? Nope. Perfect Dark. Don’t remind me.
A VoiP and video chat client that, Microsoft bought and subsequently mutilated. What was once an independent, decentralized peer-to-peer technology was transformed into a centralized and Microsoft-owned network. Not to mention, the client has all the hallmarks of a Microsoft user interface. Messy, befuddled, and lacking any cohesion.
A company that Microsoft bought for 7.6 billion dollars (which, fun fact, is an unfathomably disgusting number of dollars). Less than two years later, they wrote off the majority of that 7.6 billion as a an ‘impairment’ (which is moneycult speak for ‘mistake’), oh yeah, and then they fired 7,800 people in their ‘devices’ division. But at least they got all them sweet, sweet patents.
Raise your hand if you believe LinkedIn is a relevant, contemporary social network. Nobody? Yeah. That’s what I thought. Yeah. In 2016, Microsoft bought LinkedIn for $26.2 billion dollars. Wait a minute, what? [Check piece of paper… $26.2 billion on piece of paper]. Yeah. $26.2 billion [gag] dollars. Wow. Okay. Gonna go to hell now. So, what has Microsoft done with LinkedIn as a part of its portfolio? Like… nothing.
The creator of Minecraft and nothing else, Microsoft bought Mojang for $2.6 billion, and what have they done with it? They made the Windows 10 edition of Minecraft. And that’s it.
So I think the lesson we’ve learned is this: Microsoft are a corporation without a cause or a purpose. They exist for literally no reason, acquire technology in order to build inferior versions of said products, and they are actually a drain on innovation, creativity, and speech.
So what would a GitHub owned by Microsoft look like? Bob. Microsoft Bob.
So that’s just what I think, but I want to know what's on your mind. Let me know how you feel about a possible GitHub merger on Twitter @TheLinuxGamer.