The best way to experience Steam’s torrent of new releases is @microtrailers, a Twitter bot which indiscriminately tweets about (most) launches with cut-down six-second versions of their trailers. With no curation and no adaptive algorithm, it gives a raw look at the range of modern games, the big-budget alongside the no-budget, the flashy alongside the plain, the serious war game alongside the horny anime puzzle game. It’s so great that Valve copied it for their Steam Labs experiments. Troublingly, when Valve launched their algorithmitated Micro Trailers last week, the original Twitter bot went down. Did they kill it to replace it with a worse version? Naw, relax! It was a technical hiccup and the Steamy treat is back, baby.
The Twitter bot is run by Ichiro Lambe of Dejobaan Games, the gang behind excellently-named games like AaaaaAAaaaAAAaaAAAAaAAAAA!!! – A Reckless Disregard For Gravity and Elegy For A Dead World. He’s also been working on odds and ends with Valve, including Steam’s Micro Trailers experiment. Which made it seem weird that the bot died on Thursday the 11th, the same day as the Steam feature went live.
I was on holiday last week so I missed most video game happenings, but upset over its apparent demise was a big blip on my digital radar. Steam’s take on Micro Trailers might be more useful for some, with pages separating games by genres and popularity and such, but all that’s contrary to what I like so much about the Twitter bot (even if it does miss some releases for whatever technical reason).
The Twitter bot gives a great look at what’s actually coming out on Steam. I like that no clumsy algorithm is curating by meaningless genres or popularity. I like seeing so many games I’ll likely never play, just to know this variety exists. I like trailers crunched down to six seconds, enjoyable in themselves as short bursts of who-knows-what. I adore when it posts great-looking games I’d otherwise have never seen. I like that it’s just there on Twitter, slipping games into my regular Twitter stream of jokes and photographs of rocks. I am delighted when it posts games or trailers so strange that I shout “WHAT?” and show everyone in the RPS treehouse, as I do several times per week. I was sorry to see it go. I am delighted to see it return.
“Ah, @MicroTrailers is down accidentally, not permanently,” Lambe tweeted on Friday. “My bad. It’ll come back up on its own soon!”
And indeed it did. Go on, get over there.