Battling Depression and Motorcyclists - A Look at Steam Greenlight Submissions


Valve Corporation’s Steam video game delivery service has always valued community participation. From an integrated Steamworks profile system, to a communal marketplace for in-game purchases, Steam possesses many features which support customer input.

However, Valve’s strongest implementation yet appears to be “Steam Greenlight.” The Greenlight system places a gallery of in-production video games online for users to explore, and gives them the opportunity to vote on whether they would purchase a chosen game. The greater support a product concept receives, the higher the chance that Valve will officially integrate a product onto Steam.

Currently, several dozen products have received the support they need for Steam publishing. Over 50 products have been “Greenlit” - or confirmed for store publication - and 30 have been published. As Valve continues to confirm Greenlit content, several submissions prove especially promising:

Road Redemption - During the 1990s, the critically acclaimed “Road Rash” series pitted players against computer-controlled motorcyclists in an over-the-top street race. Over two decades later, “Road Redemption” looks to bring the original gameplay back into contemporary gaming. Set in a criminally infested Midwest, players attempt to gain control of a violent motorcycle gang through fatal, high-speed races. Like the original “Road Rash,” players are granted a variety of weapons in order to combat their rivals. Baseball bats, chains, katanas and shotguns are all viable tools in free-for-all races. Likewise, motorcyclists are given a sophisticated combat system in order to counter their rivals’ blows: a well-placed parry, for instance, can send a bloodthirsty enemy straight into an 18-wheeler. “Road Redemption” plans to take motorcycle racing online as well: hosting both free-for-all races and team-based objective modes.

RIOT – There are very few video games that attempt to address deep societal and ethical questions. “BioShock,” for instance, critiqued Ayn Rand, while “Deus Ex” explored notions of trans-humanism. “RIOT,” however, looks to explore political science by creating a riot simulator. Based on a variety of in-person experiences with modern protests, “RIOT” studies how demonstrations are created, and why protestors and authorities confront one another. Players are given the opportunity to play both sides of a variety of riots - some more violent than others - and strategically plan how to embrace the other side. Some players may choose to act viciously as riot police, inevitably causing the protest to break down into chaos. Others may play as peaceful demonstrators, keeping the police at bay and reaching a more stable compromise. “RIOT” allows gamers to understand how political demonstrations operate, without actually injuring themselves in the process.

Routine - Since the early 1990s, survival horror video games have remained a staple in the gaming industry. “Routine,” however, looks to further advance the genre by emphasizing a non-linear, open-world experience. Isolated on an abandoned 1980s moon base, in “Routine,” players are forced to investigate their fellow crew members’ disappearance on the “Lunar Research Station” moon colony. “Routine’s” engine successfully manipulates gameplay mechanics in order to create a mesmerizing experience. The game lacks HUD features, for instance, and uses a permanent death system. “Routine’s” shading system similarly plays with the environment, creating an eerie, lonely feel to the architectural design found within the base. Routine has already been “Greenlit” for release, and there are additioinal plans in place for Oculus Rift support.

Depression Quest - While many contemporary video games take pride their focus on realism, most fail to properly explore the realm of mental illness. “Depression Quest” uses an adventure game format to tackle the real life issues found from experiencing depression. Players are given a dynamic fictional story, which alters the protagonist’s depression based on user choices. Filled with over 150 random encounters, players are forced to analyze their situation and work towards bringing their protagonist to recovery. In the process, colors become more lifelike as the character’s depression lessens, while images become more static as the protagonists mental state worsens. “Depression Quest’s” real power, however, comes from its real life response to depression. Players who choose to purchase “Depression Quest” also donate a percentage of their contribution to “iFred” - a charity focused on combating depression and the cultural stigma thrust upon its victims.


Philip Wythe

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