Valve’s decision to no longer censor games on the Steam store is facing a test Brazil. Local officials are calling on the company to stop selling an indie game that features a right-wing presidential candidate beating up his political opponents, including gays and feminists.
The game, Bolsomito 2K18, lets you take control of a parody of Jair Bolsonaro, a Brazilian politician who may end up winning the presidency later this month. The 2D side scroller pits your character against wave after wave of so-called “corrupted” government forces, including activist groups.
Not everyone is amused by Bolsomito 2K18’s gameplay. On Wednesday, Brazil’s Public Ministry of the Federal District and Territories called on Valve to pull the title from the Steam Store because, it says, the game promotes hate against gay and feminist movements amid the backdrop of a presidential election.
Is the game actually hate or satire? Well, it may not matter. In June, Valve announced it would stop censoring games over their controversial content. “We’ve decided that the right approach is to allow everything onto the Steam Store,” company executive Erik Johnson said at the time. “If you’re a player, we shouldn’t be choosing for you what content you can or can’t buy.”
The only exceptions are for games found to be “illegal or straight up trolling,” he said. Whether Bolsomito 2K18 applies to either isn’t clear. So far, Valve hasn’t publicly commented on the game, which began selling on Steam on Oct. 5.
Bolsomito 2K18 comes from a mysterious indie developer called BS Studios, which couldn’t be reached for immediate comment. However, Brazil’s Public Ministry of the Federal District and Territories has decided to investigate who the developers are.
The Bolsomito 2K18 game itself doesn’t appear to be a major understaking for BS Studios. The title features low-end 2D graphics and barebones gameplay mechanics. Nevertheless, reviews for Bolsomito 2K18 have been largely positive, but perhaps more for its political stance.
“The media is trying to make this a bad game, but don’t buy their ideas,” writes one reviewer. “10/10 just for the courage to make a fun game about the actual society and their flaws.”
However, at least a few Steam users are worried the game will incite violence in the real world. “It’s a shame that Steam allowed such travesty to be released in the first place,” says one review.
That said, Bolsomito 2K18 is not the first politically themed game to arrive on the Steam store. The platform also sells numerous titles depicting US President Donald Trump. To prevent content you don’t like from filling up your Steam store recommendations, Valve has introduced new controls that can help you better filter out certain game categories.