Extra Punctuation

Extra Punctuation
Why Nobody Has the Time to Make Greenlight Work

Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw | 13 May 2014 12:00
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So I appreciate Steam Greenlight for being the closest thing to a completely democratic process. Unfortunately, just like real democracy, it loses something in practice owing to the fact that people are idiots. You only have to look at YouTube and see what gets massively popular - screaming dolts and rip-offs. It's the inherent problem with opening up a system for everyone on the assumption that they might possibly be a struggling artist, when they could just as easily be a scammer, or a lunatic, or just a really bad artist who works solely in imitation 8-bit graphics.

In theory, this shouldn't be a problem, because the stuff that's truly good should be naturally rising to the top by word of mouth. But in practice, nobody has the time to play every single indie game that comes out on Steam to find the hidden gems. Maybe you can give every single game five minutes of your time, but there are a lot of games that need a bit more than that to get good. FTL, for example.

Maybe this is where the gaming media takes responsibility. Instead of going straight to the outlet, the audience can get recommendations from the critics whose opinions have generally been proved to gel with theirs. That would be me, hopefully, if you're reading this. I believe Gabe Newell once stated in an interview that he felt the future of Steam may lie in 'curated stores', wherein a media outlet or critic puts together a little page with links to all the games they actually want you to play, and take an itty bitty cut from the sales. Sort of like how fashion boutiques work. The audience uses their favorite shop owner as a filter for the specks of gold in the bewildering ocean of new releases.

But the problem with this is that I still consider it fruitless to attempt to play every single indie game that's ever released anywhere, so I would in turn need to have titles recommended to me before I can recommend them on. Somewhere at the start of the chain there has to be someone playing every single game that comes out, and I just don't think that's a reasonable thing to ask of anyone. Well. Maybe it would make a good form of prison labor? Just throwing that out there.

I dunno. There's something to be said for TV channels, and a scheduled stream of content over which the audience has little control. There's a lot of piffle you won't have any interest in, but every now and again you'll be exposed to something you wouldn't have thought to look for, and be converted. But I think, crucially, you watch television comfortable in the knowledge that every program has had to jump through hoops like you wouldn't believe to get onto the schedule, and therefore you can be certain that the creators are taking things seriously. Maybe that's all Steam Greenlight needs: a few more hoops. Like you can only apply if you write a 23-stanza poem on why your game deserves to be played. Or perhaps just jam a corkscrew through the back of your hand.

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