Better? Maybe? – You Can Now Report Abusive Steam Tags

Steam's community isn't *always* wrong

Oh, Valve. I’d like it so very much if we lived in the world you seem to wishfully inhabit. Power to the people! It’s a wonderfully idealistic goal, but there’s just one problem with it: the Internet mutates far too many people into hideous trolls, and they use their powers to make the world a viler, more putrid place. I’m not as against democratization of game development/sales as, say, John, but I do think there need to be serious checks in place to prevent rampant misuse and willful idiocy. It is, then, good to see Valve sort of moving in that direction with Steam Tags. Doubtless, Steam needs to beef up discoverability for its increasingly labyrinthine library, but easily abused tags initially turned the feature into a giant joke. Valve’s solution? A community driven report function, naturally.

Here’s the full update, courtesy of Valve:

  • There is a new reporting option next to popular tags on game pages. You can click the flag icon to report a tag, which will downvote the tag. Right now there are four report reasons:
    • Offensive/abusive tag
    • Not appropriate for this product
    • Not a helpful tag
    • Spoiler
  • In general, tags need to be applied by more users before they will show on the popular tags section
  • “For You” / Recommended tags will only recommend tags that apply to multiple games
  • Fixed an issue where swear words would show unfiltered in some places

So Valve’s solution to a community issue is… the community. That’s not particularly surprising, but I worry that dedicated trolls could use this system for ill just as much as regular ol’ Average Joe573623420blazins could use it for legitimate purposes. I mean, what’s to stop malicious ne’er-do-well types from reporting and downvoting tags that actually reflect opinions formed on this plane of reality? It’s good that tags now need to be applied by more people before they show up on a game’s page, but I worry that still won’t stop a concerted, pre-planned “raid”-style effort from pushing dubious tags past Valve’s gates.

That said, I went ahead and checked the tags of popular targets like Fez and Indie Game: The Movie, and they’re totally spotless for now. My guess? Valve went in and moderated those personally, but that’s only speculation. Games like Gone Home, meanwhile, still sport tags like “boring” and “white girl problems,” although those are thankfully not on the game’s main page. Oh, and while a lot of it is technically against the rules, Barbie Dreamhouse Party‘s treasure trove of tags is incredible. My favorites: horror, post-apocalyptic, MLG, hardcore, grand strategy, and masterpiece.

I’m still definitely not sold on Steam Tags, but this is an improvement, at least. It remains to be seen what’ll happen when a new controversial or somehow objectionable game comes out – whether people will rush its store page and try to put a dent in its initial sales or something – but I suppose time will tell. And until then, well, at least there is an official (and very popular) “Nanomachines, Son” tag. Thank goodness for that.


    • LionsPhil says:

      That site convinced me that the tagging system is just perfect, yeah. (High streak: 15)

      Also, Deus Ex: Invisible War is tagged “Functioning toilets”. Tell me Steam tags aren’t great.

      (Cargo! is tagged “No, more Russian than that”.)

      • zain3000 says:

        Prison Architect, too. I don’t know about you, but I’m a sucker for a game with simulated plumbing.

    • phelix says:

      Apparently, people searching for Battlefield 2 by tags will enter “ENEMY BOAT SPOTTED” or “START FIGHTING OR I’LL FIND SOMEONE WHO CAN” when they want to find accurate results. That, or the tag system is broken by design.

      • dE says:

        You forgot the actual option:
        A few joke tags don’t invalidate an entire system. With very few exceptions, the tags are spot on and relevant to the game. The system works perfectly fine. Especially since you can now report insulting tags.

        According to you, these Tags are not fitting for Battlefield 2?

        Action – yep
        FPS – yep
        Enemy boat spotted – joke tag
        Multiplayer – yep
        Punkbuster – yep
        Tactical Shooter – yep
        First-Person – yep
        Co-op – yep
        Military – yep
        Shooter – yep
        Swedish – yep

        • subedii says:

          And if I browse by all the other tags it’ll take me to other relevant results (Exception of Punkbuster, but I imagine that just needs a few more relevant games to be tagged). If I try to sort by those 2 joke tags (Because you know, “Apparently people searching for Battlefield 2 by tags will enter those when they want to find accurate results”), I find jack-all.

          Not enough items tagged with “START FIGHTING OR I’LL FIND SOMEONE WHO CAN” yet

        • The Random One says:

          Swedish may be appropriate, but I find the idea of someone hankering for Swedish games and finding BF and going “Oh! That’s exactly as Swedish as I expected!” to be hilarious.

    • Frank says:

      I think like the mob. I’m at a 27 streak on my first try and could probably get 95 of out every 100 at least, I reckon.

      • dahools says:

        I thought that but got 25 out of 30, gave up there, i had a few either or ones, 2 WWII flight sims the tags matched both games i guessed wrong.

        Plus i didn’t get NBA 2k10 they were: yaoi, donkey kong, ape escape, sasha grey and tyrone.

        if you click on it now there are still some dubious ones and racial slurs in the popular tags bit if you go to add your own.

    • Cloudiest Nights says:

      an RPS favorite! link to

  1. BillyIII says:

    And among top nine games marked with “adventure” tag there are zero adventure games. Typical. Role playing games tag content is bad too.

    • Shodex says:

      The actual adventure game genre is sort of forgotten. It basically encompasses anything that isn’t 100% linear shooting now.

      That said, you can add real point & click adventures to the tag yourself.

    • c-Row says:

      Role playing games tag content is bad too.

      It’s probably still nighttime in whatever realm Wizardry is living at the moment.

    • Serpok says:

      I think “Quest” is a better name the point and click genre

  2. DanMan says:

    You can’t deny that it got rid of the worst offenders, so that’s good. The next big thing it needs are synonyms/aliases: scary == horror, 3rd person == third person, …

    Integration across languages would be helpful, too: third person = dritte Person, scary == gruselig, … so smaller countries/communities can benefit from the bigger ones.

    And then we have exclusion of tags.

    • LionsPhil says:

      You’d kind of hope that the kind of supposed “top of their game” talent that Valve pull in, at least one of them would have read a paper somewhere in the field of knowledge management at some point, or at least looked at the problems with co-reference in naive tagging systems, but I guess not.

      • DanMan says:

        Yeah, that struck me as well. It’s like they didn’t even discuss it internally. Probably NIH syndrome.

      • TillEulenspiegel says:

        There’s a weird strain of anti-intellectualism among quite a lot of software developers. This manifests itself with everything from sneering at university degrees to not bothering to really research how problems have been solved in the past.

        Just search Stack Overflow, whatever, that’s all you need to know.

    • Baines says:

      Yes, variations of the same tag really needs to be addressed. I think every game that I’ve looked at has had at least one case of two or more tags for the same concept. (“RTS” and “Real-Time Strategy,” “GFWL” and “Games For Windows Live”, “Fighter” and “Fighting”, “2.5D” and “2.5D Fighter”) They aren’t inaccurate, but they do interfere with the usefulness of a tagging system.

      It also feels like something should be done about tags that are redundant to information in the game details. Being able to search and filter by stuff like “Online Multiplayer” and “Bioware” is fine, but these are things that should already be searchable without players having to tag them. (And maybe Valve should use a different color for Valve-applied tags?) It is also slightly annoying to see these redundant tags clogging up the limited space for immediately displayed tags on the store page.

  3. AngelTear says:

    As pointed out in the comments to another article some tags that weren’t technically offensive but still controversial, like “Feminist” have been removed, possibly because they are controversial (as in, “We Valve don’t want to take side and push one side of the argument away”) or because they were often used as insults, or in order to troll.

    Good to see, on the other hand, that the LGBT tag lived, even though there’s only 4 games associated with it, and it takes a manual search to make it show up, there’s no trace of it in the global tags page.

    • DanMan says:

      I have a problem with all the acronym tags, as I have no idea what LGBT even stands for, which limits their use. I’d prefer people would tag “First Person Shooter” instead of “FPS”, but as long as both are there, it’s ok.

      That said, tagging it as “First person” and “Shooter” instead would be even better for searching.

      • AngelTear says:

        You can always use a search engine, or even something like Urban Dictionary. If you game, you are very likely to know the word FPS; and if you’re at all interested in sexuality/sexualities, LGBT (Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transsexual, often spelled LGBTQ or LGBT*, where the Q stands for queer and the * stands for “other non-standard sexualities”) is an acronym you’ll surely be familiar with.

        To me, Yolo is a much more obscure acronym – and one I wish I never learned the meaning of – but if you’re on the internet, it’s not hard to know this kind of thing.

        • DanMan says:

          Yet, if you tag that with “sexuality” or “sexual orientation” instead, everyone can understand it immediately.

          • Premium User Badge

            The Borderer says:

            Except that transgender/transsexual is a gender identity, not a sexual identity.

        • Premium User Badge

          The Borderer says:

          Actually LGBT is supposed to mean lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender, with transgender defined as people who challenge traditional assumptions about gender. It’s also supposed to be an inclusive and self-identifying term.

          • joa says:

            Transgender people don’t “challenge traditional assumptions about gender” — they are mentally the opposite gender to their physical body. It’s not some kind of politically correct game about defying gender norms or whatever, it’s a medical condition.

          • Universal Quitter says:

            @joa – No, not everyone that identifies as transgendered is a person that is “mentally the opposite gender of their body.” You’re looking at this like a big on/off switch, and I assure you that for many people, it is absolutely not.

            I could see how being transgendered could be considered a “medical condition,” if it was something that was solely an expression of gender dysphoria, but it isn’t. There are many, many sub-labels that fall under the T in LGBT, and they all mean something different to each person that identifies with them. They all don’t want gender reassignment, though some of them do, some prefer to transition up to the point of surgery, and some don’t “transition” into anything at all.

            I know it makes one’s brain hurt less to have all of these neat categories and divisions for people, but that doesn’t make them real. It doesn’t make the habit any less stupid or harmful.

          • joa says:

            Actually it’s biology that came up with fairly neat divisions and categories for people. Do you think biology is harmful and stupid?

          • Premium User Badge

            The Borderer says:

            @ joa
            You are confusing transgender with transsexual. Transsexuals are part of transgender (Should they choose to be) but they are not the whole. Transgender is an umbrella term to apply to transsexuals, transvestites, cross dressers, drag kings/queens, genderqueer and anything else that isn’t hetronormative male/female.

            As for biology, it can only manage male or female 99.7% of the time. some of the 0.3% do pass as male/female but the rest can’t and/or don’t want to. Things have thankfully moved on since the days of compulsory corrective surgery at birth, which is why it all seems new if you are not aware of it.

      • HadToLogin says:

        But First Person Shooter isn’t same thing as software that is tagged with First Person and Shooter tags.

        For example, Skyrim easily can get First Person and Shooter (it do have archery, you could also say magic is just different kind of guns) tags, but in no way it’s First Person Shooter.

    • LionsPhil says:

      But weren’t you also just arguing in the previous article on this that the set of possible tags should be restricted?

      • AngelTear says:

        I was arguing that people should have stuck to objective descriptions of the game, and avoid insults and judgements of values, whether positive or negative. The fact that a game deals with feminist (or LGBT) themes is not a judgement of value, it’s an objective feature of a game, at least until people don’t use feminist as an insult the way they use gay as an insult).

        I still believe that.

        I was proposing to limit the choice of tags to a set of pre-definite tags as a practical solution in order to reduce abuse and trolling, and I can’t see how that’s in conflict with what I’ve written. I think they eliminated a “good” one, is all I’m saying. Still, if they manage to solve the issue this way, all the better, although I agree with the article in that I have my doubts that a community-driven solution can be effective against a community problem.

        • joa says:

          I don’t think ‘feminist’ is a useful tag at all – because people disagree a lot of about what is feminist and not, sexist and not and so on. One person’s sexist game is another’s female-empowering game.

          • AngelTear says:

            I didn’t mean to use the word feminist as the opposite of sexist. By feminist I meant “deals in feminist issues”; whether it does that well or not it’s still yours to argue. But if the game is particularly interested in gender roles, patriarchy and all the themes that generally belong to the realm of feminism, there should be a tag to indicate that. A synonym is fine, if you can indicate a better one, by all means do, but I haven’t see any actually used to replace it.

          • TWChristine says:

            While I think you do make a good point, I also feel like this degree of semantics can be applied to probably most of the tags. How many times have we heard someone say “Well that’s not a REAL’s an action game with role-play elements,” or any other thing along those lines. I kind of feel that perhaps the tagging system would be better if the devs were the ones picking which ones they wanted to use, in such a way as we were able to see what they were actually meaning. (Note: I don’t particularly care one way or the other about tags, so if I’m mistaking how/who gets to use them, that would be the reason.)

          • Universal Quitter says:

            Man, you’re just full of wisdom today, but the labels we use to divide games (FPS, RPG) up are rather arbitrary, too. Sometimes, they don’t even really makes sense. How is RPG, which can mean either “with a story,” “choose your own story,” or “with persistent character stats,” a distinct category from 1st person shooter, who’s defining attribute is the camera angle?

            I don’t see how such silly phrases and words are in any way superior to “feminist” as a tag. In fact, in a lot of cases, it would tell me far more about a game than F2P P2W MMOFPS set in a postapocalyptic, zombie horde survival scenario crafting platformer universe. With voxels.

            When any given Bethesda game basically fits half of the genre labels and tags that steam has, it’s a pretty good sign that the metrics we’re all relying on are complete shit.

          • joa says:

            Well I suppose I would not really be against it if the tag was applied to work that the authors saw as feminist. I guess the main problem I see is that the tag could simply be applied to all games with ‘strong’ woman characters or whatever – and then you’re making a political statement instead of just stating a fact.

            And I don’t think RPG and FPS and so on are completely useless. I have a very general idea of what I’m going to get with each. It’s not perfect, but then no labelling system is. Genres of film and music suffer from the same problem.

        • Shuck says:

          How many games are unambiguously dealing with feminism as an issue? Not enough to be worthwhile as a tag, I suspect, especially given the trolling possibilities that would clutter the categorization (so tagging every game with a female character, or developer, or…). It would be interesting to have tags that describe themes and issues being discussed in the games, but it seems that Valve are looking for tags that describe the mechanics and mood rather than themes or issues (which are more subjective and more easily abused).

      • Geebs says:

        But, what if there were people whose opinions were better than everybody else? Of course, they’d know who they were because they themselves were also better. I think those people should be the ones to censor the system. We could call them “the Watchmen”.

    • Lars Westergren says:

      I tried to tag Batman: Arkham City as “Sexist”, but wasn’t allowed to. I actually didn’t want to troll, I thought it was a fair description. Still a good game.

      • Geebs says:

        I think it would be more appropriate to tag Arkham City “crass”

        • Lars Westergren says:

          Yep, I can go with that. There are powerful women in the game. It’s just that they wear spray on costumes, and the camera is glued to their asses in cutscenes, which starts to grate after a while.

    • Rindan says:

      I didn’t get to see the feminist tag before it was yanked, but a friend of mine did. People were not using it well. I don’t think it was taken down because Valve is upset by games with feminist theme. I think it was taken down because it was being horribly abused and they would rather not have it at all until they can fix the system than to have the tag being used by angry 14 year old boys upset at women because they are not getting laid.

      I personally like the system. They just need to work out the kinks. Even the mild jokes are not horrible. A few of my favorites are, “Nanomachines, son”, “Rome wasn’t patched in a day”, “Procedural Death Labyrinth”, “Walking Simulator”.

      • The Random One says:

        When I see people talking of “Procedural Death Labyrinth” as if it was a joke tag, I don’t know whether to laugh at the defenders of the word Roguelike the expression was meant to appease, or to cry because it means the chance for one of my favourite genres to get a description more fitting than “similar to a game released in 1985” has floundered.

        Unless they were using it for Dark Souls. Then it’s funny.

    • bit_crusherrr says:

      It’s not in the global tags because that only shows popular tags. If only 4 games are tagged it it’s not a popular tag.

  4. SkittleDiddler says:

    They’ve gone and censored the “Diva Dev” tag? That’s too bad. I thought it was really a fitting descriptor in some cases.

    • LionsPhil says:

      “Broken” is gone too, so I’ve used “Buggy” instead. Because, seriously, don’t buy HOARD, anyone. The netcode broke in some patch or other, and devs are gone forever into the black abyss of mobile.

      • SkittleDiddler says:

        I’ve tagged a dozen or more games with “Buggy”. Also, “Console Port” and “Abandonware” have been pretty popular with me.

        At least Valve are still allowing for “Walking Simulator”. That’s a good one.

        • HadToLogin says:

          I kinda wonder how “Abandonware” tag can exist on Steam.

          But that might be because I always assume “Abandonware” means “Not-being-sold”. And there’s always some F2P games, I guess.

          • SkittleDiddler says:

            “Abandonware” as in released and then abandoned by the publisher or developer. Maybe I’m using the wrong word for that. “Shovelware” perhaps?

          • TechnicalBen says:

            Sadly Hammer Fight never got any additional content… so could be “abandoned”. Though “Abandon ware” usually only applies when there is zero ownership information around. The kind of Games GOG has trouble getting on their site as the owner vanished/sold to an unknown company.

        • Dances to Podcasts says:

          Sounds like a good opportunity to replace the ‘supports controller’ that Valve so far used with ‘requires controller’. Would save people some money.

      • LionsPhil says:

        I’ve found another good one: Buyer’s Remorse.

        Oh, hello Brink! What a surprise seeing you here.

    • Jac says:

      Please explain to me how the tag “diva dev” can ever possibly be a useful classification.

      • The Random One says:

        Mmmmmmmaybe you’re trying to make a documentary, and you’re really lazy?

  5. kwyjibo says:

    Barbie Dreamhouse Party‘s best tag is Rouge-like.

  6. BTAxis says:

    I mean, what’s to stop malicious ne’er-do-well types from reporting and downvoting tags that actually reflect opinions formed on this plane of reality?

    The way I see it, tags are NOT a place for expression opinion. They are a place for summarizing a game’s content on an objective basis. That means tags like “colorful” or “cartoony” or “shorter than 10 hours” would be fine, while tags like “boring” or “awesome” are not. Opinions don’t improve discoverability.

    • kwyjibo says:

      How is “cartoony” an objective standard?

      • BTAxis says:

        Well… how is it not? At worst you can disagree on whether it is, or is not, cartoony. That’s fine. This is why most systems I’ve seen have tag weights. It’s not the same as passing a value judgment on the game, which is what’s happening with the Steam tags.

        • kwyjibo says:

          Well… how is it not? At worst you can disagree on whether it is, or is not, boring.

          • BTAxis says:

            I think you’re rather severely missing the point here. I suppose it’s my fault for not communicating well enough.

          • DanMan says:

            The same stuff is being discussed on the Steam forums all the time. The thing is, you should not be judgmental with your tags. If the term entails a rating, like awesome, bullshit, boring, fun, you should refrain from using it. Better write a review about it.

          • Grygus says:

            I think his point is that using “cartoony” to describe something does tell you something about what it’s like, even if you disagree with the tag – you may or may not find World of Warcraft cartoony, but it’s certainly not Skyrim, for example – while “boring” tells you nothing, because that’s used by someone to describe every game ever made. One is a (perhaps inaccurate) description, the other is simply opinion.

          • BTAxis says:

            It’s about adding descriptors to a game that might be used to find other games that share one or more properties. I realize objectivity is hard to achieve in that context (and my use of the word in my first post was ill-advised), but trying to describe an aspect of the game – such as the art style – is more useful than describing your feelings about the game.

        • Baines says:

          “cartoony” is arguably too vague to be helpful.

          While it might be easy to assign without complaint, it is questionable how useful it is when searching/filtering. It could mean graphics, physics, gameplay, story, or any combination. Even within graphics alone, it can mean multiple things, and in some cases it may specifically be relative to other games within the same genre.

  7. onsamyj says:

    Valve is so lazy. You can say their policies about freedom for devs and users, but that’s just an excuse. Like, there is awesome feature of Steam Cloud. Why not force it to every game? And how about checking if it is actually working (I lost saves, man!)? Greenlight is only kinda working. And now tags. Sigh.

    Between totalitarian stores of Microsoft and Apple, and anarchy of Steam, there is happy medium of democracy of some sort. Curated stores on top of Steam can work, I think, but that’s just catalog for “recommended games from RPS”, for example – basically, you can do it already.

    • Greggh says:

      Doing that takes manpower. Anarchy, as you put it, is less straining for their current corporate structure and business model.

    • mrwonko says:

      Sure, some of it probably stems from “we can’t handle all this ourselves”, or “laziness” as you call it. But Valve also genuinely believe that there are valuable new ideas in the community they wouldn’t have come up with themselves.

      If you’re interested in that, watch some of the Steam Dev Day talks. I think they talked about this either in the “Community and Communication in Games-As-Services” or the “Embracing User Generated Content” talk.

  8. Tei says:

    The problem with tags is that reflect what people know about games. So are another popularity contest. I find the idea interesting, but I have to change the language of steam to make it work on my machine :(

  9. Pich says:

    no fun allowed.

  10. Lacero says:

    I’m trying to push the “Architecture” tag for games like gnomoria and the sims and such. Mainly in the hope we get more games in that area if they have a definition. Join in :D

    Also “Interactive Cutscene” for various AAA games like the new Tomb Raider, but I don’t expect that to go anywhere. It’s very cathartic though.

    edit: gunpoint needs “Noir” too.

  11. MaXimillion says:

    Time to start reporting every game tagged roguelike that doesn’t fit the Berlin interpretation I guess.

    • The Random One says:

      People are taking Procedural Death Labyrinth as a joke tag. I told you we should be using Random Death Dungeon.

  12. DrManhatten says:

    If Steam were really serious about power to the people they would allow to sell/gift played games to other people or have a 14-day refund period. Everything else is just gimmicking.

  13. Metalhead9806 says:

    What is your problem MR. Grayson? Valve releases a community driven feature, stumbles then completely fixes it with another community driven option and you go ahead and call Valve out on moderating?

    That’s a load of bull… maybe just maybe the people in the community that want games to be tagged properly reported the crappy tags? I know thats what i did… i went through every freaking game i own and ones i didnt and reported every idiotic troll tag on the service.

    I find it insulting that you would let such a small percentage of morons shape your thinking of the community as a whole. Maybe, just maybe we have more good people on Steam than idiotic bad apples… Don’t let the small percentage that makes up the vocal minority convince you that the entire community is shit… its insulting and not appreciated sir.

    • subedii says:

      It’s almost like some of us were saying “this is literally the first few hours into the beta, aren’t you going COMPLETELY apoplectic over things that are going to change? Shall we wait a little bit before raging?”

      Honestly, I feel like everyone just ignored the possibility that a beta that’s less than 12 hours old might be subject to change.

      • The Random One says:

        If Google created an update that posted all my Gmail messages publicly on G+, you can bet I and all other users would be angry, no matter how much it was a beta and it had only been live for twelve hours. (Even though no one would be on G+ to read the messages.)

        This isn’t as big of a deal, but the larger you are, the more of a responsability you have towards your software. It doesn’t matter that it was tagged as beta if the tags were already appearing on game pages.

        • subedii says:

          By Jove you’re right!

          And similarly, if Gmail altered their software to give me cancer, I’d be incredibly vexed!

          I’m sorry, but that is a ridiculous analogy. This has not leaked my personal e-mails or private details, it’s a freaking beta for tagging games under different categories, and it’s being tested to see what can be changed.

          For that matter, they’ve probably already reacted and changed faster than Google generally have.

  14. SkittleDiddler says:

    Valve are removing any and all tags that could have a negative connotation. Seems like a lot of people are butthurt over others labeling their favorite games as broken or abandoned (even when warranted).

    What’s the point of implementing tags if it’s all going to be rainbows and puppy dogs?

    • subedii says:

      Because tags aren’t about opinions, they’re about sortation.

      The point is that I can now sort between SHMUP, Survival, Horror and Spectacle Fighter, and not just have them ALL lumped in under the amorphous “Action” genre. I can subdivide strategy into TBS and RTS, and I can even look up “Stealth” based games specifically.

      Whether you agree with ALL the entries in any specific category, it’s a very useful to have those delineations when you’re looking for something a bit more specific to your tastes.

      • CookPassBabtridge says:

        @subedii – agreed. We already have steam reviews for user opinion. There is no way in hell that I would overlook a game just because it had the TAG of “buggy”. But if I read 4 reviews all saying “cannot finish x mission because of game breaking bug”, that I would be interested in.

        • Baines says:

          A tag of “buggy” can make you more likely to look more carefully at the reviews or the forum.

          And, honestly, Steam can probably use a “broken” tag (which apparently Valve removed?), because some of the games that Steam sales go beyond just being “buggy”. Not that Valve necessarily want consumers to easily express such sentiments in such a visible method.

      • SkittleDiddler says:

        But tags are ultimately supposed to help prospective buyers make wiser purchasing decisions (why else put them at the top of the store page?), and labeling a game as broken or abandoned — when fully warranted — can be helpful in that context.

        Anyway, tags of that sort don’t necessarily amount to simple opinion. Would you argue that Takedown isn’t a buggy, broken mess? Or that Stardrive wasn’t abandoned by its developer in favor of another project? I’m all for removing misleading and trollish tags, but AFAIC customers need to be made aware of possible negatives right off the bat.

        If the tagging system is supposed to be used purely for sorting purposes, then Valve better start censoring positive praise terms like “Fun” and “Best Simulator Ever” along with the ones they don’t like.

        • CookPassBabtridge says:

          I would ignore a tag such as “fun” as much as I would “shit”. Ultimately I want to be able to pick out all the Military RTS games without the Space-based ones, or all the Post Apocalyptic RPG’s without the shining knight / princess ones, because right now Steam is TERRIBLE for that.

          Once I have a shorter list, THEN I will read your scathing attack on its buggy unfinishedness, should that indeed be the truth, in the review section. Feel free to vent your spleen on a 2000 word rant, I may even applaud. However, there are more than enough outlets for people’s opinions on the internet. Its not as though dissenters are being silenced, and god knows it takes a great deal to shut the less helpful ones up anyway.

      • taristo says:

        That seems to be the go-to defense, but is not at all what Steam said: link to
        “Apply genres such as “Puzzle”, themes like “Military”, or attributes such as “Difficult”. Or, come up with entirely new concepts to apply in categorizing products.”
        “Q. Can I tag a product with any word?
        A. Yes, the system is intended to support a broad variety of concepts, genres, and attributes. The tag you apply may not appear to other users until enough other people have applied the same tag to that product.”

        It is also not at all what is happening seeing as tags like “Awesome”, “Beautiful”, “Fun”, “Underrated” and so on get to remain while even exact opposites like “Overrated” disappeared: link to
        Basically, Valve is removing every tag that could hold negative connotations and leaving all the others up.

        Also reviews get brought up, but I don’t see those as particularly helpful since you might as well pick the worst and best “review” on any one game and they just differentiate between “Recommended” and “Not Recommended” and you will find either on all games. If a tag like “Bad”, “Broken”, “Overrated” etc. gets picked enough to make it to the top I would pay attention since it isn’t just some guy that really hates or likes the game but a majority opinion and then one could look into it. I found most tags very fitting for the given games, but as mentioned above they are removing any with negative connotation whatsoever.

        • CookPassBabtridge says:

          When I buy a game, I read a number of reviews, not just the first one that comes up, or the one with the most “helpful” votes. I do research because I don’t want to chuck money away.

          I am surprised that anyone is claiming they would be influenced by opinion tags, either positive or negative, when looking for something to spend their money on – and especially the idea that a tag would be more influential in a decision whether to buy than a well reasoned review. How much attention do you pay to Metacritic user reviews, with a big “0” next to them and “worst game evarrr buggy POS”? If you’re sensible, the right answer is “very little”. A tag gives you even less information, and the idea that you would automatically filter out a whole slew of potential games based on one does not strike me as at all in your interest.

          • taristo says:

            I have very little use for “professional reviews” nowadays. In fact I don’t think I’ve read one or based a purchasing decision on one for at least 2-3 years. I personally trust an aggregated user score on Metacritic or something like those tags a lot more than specific reviews, or at least if they are especially high or low it points out that I should pay attention. Certain people can have specific pet peeves or have no idea what they are talking about in regards to a game they have to review, but when a mass of people decided something is unilaterally good or bad I think that is worth a lot more. I don’t pay single user reviews much mind (which is why I find the Steam review system rather useless) but an aggregate of them can be quite helpful.

            I do the same with things like movies too, I found the IMDB user score to be generally accurate (if a movie has over an 8 I can usually at least appreciate it for its qualities, 5-7 are often average and those under 5 tend to often suck) and only in few instances to deviate too much from what I think, especially with newly hyped releases.

            Otherwise I usually base my purchase decision on things like Gameplay on YouTube and the general consensus of people I generally trust on several forums. If all publications stopped reviewing games tomorrow that would be no fat off my back, since I’ve witnessed enough deception and petty one-sidedness (both negative or positive) from said to generally not pay them any mind anymore.

  15. Turkey says:

    I doubt there’d be even half as much of an outrage over the tags if it wasn’t for Gone Home. That game attracts unbelievable amounts of hate. It’s like a hate magnet.

  16. Xocrates says:

    Why is NBA 2K11 tagged under SPESS MAHRENS?

    • TechnicalBen says:

      And lesbians…

    • Kitsunin says:

      And yet NBA 2K13 is no longer tagged as yaoi.

      This saddens me.

    • Scumbag says:

      Some will possibly see this as racist, but whenever I see the small thumbnail of the 2k14 version I keep thinking its Killing Floor related. I swear at first glance the guy in the photo is doing a Fleshpound impression.

  17. mehteh says:

    Good to see “console shooter” or “console focus shooter” are sticking around on appropriate titles like Crysis 2 or BFBC2

  18. Oakatsura says:

    Seriously just make it so you have to be Level 20 Steam Level to be able to leave tag comments and have written at least 100 Recommendations with a Power Level of 100 Achievement. That will stop 99% of the Trollites.

    • edwardoka says:

      Steam Level has precisely nothing to do with the validity of opinion or likelihood to be a troll or an objective measure of someone’s ability to apply useful meaningful attributes to games.

      At best it’s a representation of “I have put a lot of effort into collecting hats and trading cards”.

      • subedii says:

        Yeah I’ve been on Steam for maybe 6 years, have a couple hundred games, some serious play time, and one or two reviews. My Steam “level” is about 11. And that’s because I went out of my way to collect a couple of those holiday badges, and even that I’m doubtful I’m going to bother with in future.

    • LionsPhil says:

      The funniest thing about this suggestion is that I’d almost put money that most of the comedy tags are /v/’s doing, and that those same people are going to have put enough effort into gaming systems and just plain playing vidya to have high Steam levels.

    • The Random One says:

      Or just charge people $100 to be able to post tags!

  19. Faxanadu says:

    Speaking of tags, would be great if RPS had tags about the article AND THE GAME the article is about, on front page.

    I really, really don’t have time to check every RPS article and read what it is about – and I can’t believe I’m a minority.

    That’s why I’d really appreciate a way to see instantly whether the article is about my kinda game or not.

  20. Frank says:

    “but I do think there need to be serious checks in place to prevent rampant misuse and willful idiocy.”

    This is a beta and it’s been less than a week. I feel like you’re blowing this out of proportion. But yeah, in the long run, it’s hard and costly to get a system like this set up right, and iteration is key. (In my head, I’m comparing it to StackExchange, but I guess there are tons of sites with similar features.)

    Yeah, they must’ve done FEZ et al by hand. The list for And Yet It Moves (one of my favorites, along with FEZ) is still a mess.

    • DanMan says:

      Tags are not a new thing though. You should know what to expect, which tells you what features should be in place.

  21. CookPassBabtridge says:

    I don’t know if anyone mentioned it, but they need to revise the way lists of games are handled. The tags get you in the right ballpark, but you are still then left with that dreadfully clunky “1-10”, “10-20” system. Its major failing is that you could be on list “40-50”, view a game, and then when you go back to the list it puts you back at “1-10” again, meaning you have to search through to find your place. It would be much better if the games could be displayed either as a grid, or at least if it remembers where you were.

    • Frank says:

      The Steam store’s navigation of everything, not just tags, has been atrocious for ages. I think they must have borrowed it from the Xbox or some non-browser based junk.

    • DanMan says:

      Agreed. There should be a list view like you have for your library – or in the shop search, for that matter.

  22. Lemming says:

    Most useful tags I can see being used: “GFWL” “Uplay” “GFWL now removed”

  23. jfrisby says:

    I think this has been helpful for stuff that was incredibly disorganized, like most of the main genre tags becoming meaningless. Having a Point & Click tag is a boon to the classic adventure game genre. But the freedom of the system was initially even more promising than that – I think the system would have self corrected with some time. Developers should embrace custom tags like “not a game” and own them, run with them for marketing.

  24. zain3000 says:

    The way I see it, for the tagging system to be effective it needs to maximize useful user-specific information and minimize curation duties for Valve. Here is my proposal:

    1) In order for a tag to be associated with a particular game, it needs to be added independently by an arbitrary amount of users (let’s say, 10, for argument’s sake). This helps weed out the more egregious tags such as #YoLo$wagBewbs. Obviously, through a concerted effort on part of a small group of malefactors, this initial hurdle could be overcome, but we’ll address this in the next step.

    2) Once a tag becomes associated with a particular game, users have the option to add personal flags to tags which they find offensive or useless. Any further games associated with said tags will not display them. This puts the power in the hands of the user to determine the tags he/she finds of value. For example, if a particular person finds the tag LGBT offensive, they have the option to prevent it from being displayed on all games that carry the tag, while those who find that tag useful can still benefit from the information it provides.

    As per the first point, any tags that make it past the initial phase of needing to garner 10 independent users can be blocked on a per-user basis. Minimum work for valve, maximum utility for users.


  25. Optimaximal says:

    And until then, well, at least there is an official (and very popular) “Nanomachines, Son” tag.

    …containing Airport Simulator and Bus Simulator…


  26. Borsook says:

    We also need an option to tag duplicate tags, sometimes games have: Real time strategy; real time battles; real time tactics… you can get up to 5 tags on a single game with just one meaning…

  27. Baines says:

    On a related note, does anyone have an even remotely useful “Recommended for …” page on Steam?

    I bothered to check it for the first time. First it listed thirteen games, every one of them from my wishlist. Then it listed three recent recommendations from friends. The first of those wasn’t even a recommendation, but rather a “Not Recommended” game.

  28. Wedge says:

    Nanomachines tag not on Planetside 2? What?

  29. Reginald XVII Archduke of Butts says:

    I think the use of tags says more about the mentality of the people using them than anything else.

    Take for instance attempted insults like “White girl problems” for Gone Home and “Gay Agenda” for Hate Plus.

    On one level, they could be considered insults. On another level, they could actually end up as endorsements for minority gamers who don’t spend time reading game journalism like RPS.

    “White girl problems” certainly isn’t wrong for Gone Home, but as an insult, it backfires. Take, for instance, the sheer volume of games devoted to insecurities one could label “White boy problems”. So, labeling a game “white girl problems” could, despite its intention as an insult, end up saying “Hey, do you want an alternative to games about white boy problems? Maybe this will interest you”.

    Likewise, labeling Hate Plus with “Gay Agenda” isn’t really incorrect either. A Christine Love game without LGBT-sympathetic points of view just wouldn’t be a Christine Love game. But considering how under-exploited LGBT is as a market niche in gaming, as a genderqueer gamer myself I’d see a tag like that and go after it like a bird dog. “Oh, a game that actually deals with LGBT issues? Must give that a look”.

    So, on one level it sucks that the peanut gallery is acting like a bunch of shites. But on the other, there is the positive externality that their poo-flinging at games which dare to appeal to someone who isn’t an angry white boy makes it much easier to identify games which everyone else can relate to.

  30. Vexus says:

    Nice article. I’m so used to PC Gamer kissing Valve’s ass, this is rather refreshing. Still, no one seems to realize this is just a publicity stunt and Valve doesn’t care if their juvenile moba community makes a mess of Steam.

  31. tewi says:

    They removed the “Derek Smart” tag from all of the 3000AD games. I find that disappointing but also hilarious.

    • taristo says:

      If you want to know more, he had a small mental breakdown over his newest game not being very well received, upon which he wrote this and did a “scorched earth” policy all over that forum deleting topics/posts (and also reviews tagging them as abusive or off-topic – there is a link to one in his own post: link to ) and banning an awful lot of people with Steam Mods apparently helping him to do that too: link to (last time I looked that thread was 14 pages long, now it’s 10)
      One part of it was to remove any tags that could even slightly be constituted negative from any of his games (for instance even “Mobile port”). Valve seems to be fully compliant with this kind of stuff and actively acting against their customers to keep a few developers happy.

      • LionsPhil says:

        I guess that new leaf he turned over flipped right back. The first comment is golden:

        “The person who said it was okay to turn the other cheek, never got slapped hard enough.”

        You mean…Jesus? The guy who was crucified? Literally crucified? Not ‘some people on the internet are being mean to me’ figuratively crucified?

        Edit: Hah! From that review: Mr. Derek Smart’s Marketing Masterclass.

      • LordOfPain says:

        Thanks for posting that. It’s like watching a car wreck in motion. Someone at Valve should have stepped in and stopped it. From what I could see, some of the bans were ridiculous. Don’t look at comments if you can’t hack them. Let proper moderators do the work. You should never be able to delete or ban just because you don’t like what someone says.
        (One reason I always find RPS’ little note above the comment box so amusing…)

    • subedii says:

      The Derek Smart tag really should have been allowed to stay. It’s not anyone else’s fault that his own name is something that scares people away, any more than they’d avoid titles from other publishers.

      That said, in its stead the highest rated tag appears to be “scam”, it’s not like he can say THAT’S an improvement.

  32. edwardoka says:

    I had hoped that the “overpriced” tag would have stuck. Whilst subjective and potentially abusive, it is actually a useful attribute, both for potential purchasers and as a possible indicator to developers that they’ve got the price point wrong.

  33. Universal Quitter says:

    I’m sad now, because I LIKED DayZ being called a “walking simulator.” Sometimes people take a certain amount of pride in the quirks and follies of things they enjoy and relate to.

    I mean, is anyone REALLY not going to buy a game because of a handful of sarcastic tags? Are you happy now, STEAM? YOU BASTARDS!