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Jun 2, 2018

Steam’s capricious pornography rules hurt small game creators the most

Drawing clear lines and definitions around obscenity, pornographic content, and art has always been a complicated business. The current guidance from US Supreme Court on the matter of obscenity is “I know it when I see it,” a standard that relies more on intuition than specificity. For online platforms and distributors, it’s equally murky territory — and one where ambiguity can have real consequences, particularly for smaller creators.

Steam, the largest online distributor of video games on the planet (which puts it in the running for largest distributor, period), is no stranger to these concerns. While nudity is seemingly permitted on the service, pornography is not — a fuzzy distinction that has led to confusion and inconsistent e...

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