steam view page
February 7, 2019

Despite Filters, Steam Lets Users Access Porn Games in Two Clicks

Steam is a popular video game platform that is used by millions of underage gamers.

Unfortunately, Steam also facilitates sexually exploitive video games with themes of childlike sexualized characters, sexual assault, and more.

Currently, Steam provides “filters” to remove “mature content” but these filters are little more than initial speedbumps on the way to sexually graphic content.

When an individual signs up for a Steam account, they are not prompted to enter their age, making it impossible to gauge what age-appropriate content to display. “Adult Only” games are not automatically included in their products—but other games with “Nudity” tags are included. Currently, the Steam Store does a poor job at defining “adult only” as all games with nudity should be classified as “adult.”

Also, games with all forms of sexual content from nudity to graphic sex acts are still advertised and made available with an easy click in the browsing results, as seen in the screenshot below.

Even pornographic video games with clearly portrayed penetrative sex acts are accessible with a mere two clicks, despite having filters turned on.

Click 1:

Click 2:

Such content is degrading and harmful to users of all ages, but especially the millions of minors who regularly use Steam. Exposure to and participation in these pornographic and objectifying games can be especially damaging to children. Research has demonstrated that children are more susceptible than adults to addictions and to developmental effects on the brain, making them especially vulnerable to pornography addiction.[i] Internet pornography use has been linked to increases in problematic sexual activity at younger ages and a greater likelihood of engaging in risky sexual behavior, such as hookups, multiple sex partners, anal sex, group sex, and using substances during sex as young adolescents.[ii]

Recommended Policy and Platform Improvements

The National Center on Sexual Exploitation urges Steam® and its parent company Valve® to create parental controls that are lockable, so that children are unable to see and access content their family determines inappropriate.

We also ask that Steam creates an 18+ category on its website in which all games with any amount of nudity or sexual content are stored. All accounts should have this 18+ category disabled by default, and require an extensive opt-in to view it so that children are no longer automatically exposed to this content.

Finally, we also call for Steam to reverse its “allow anything” policy, and to reject selling games that normalize or glamorize sexual violence and exploitation in the future, no matter the age of the user.

Take Action: Email Steam Executives Here


[i] Frances E. Jensen with Amy Ellis Nutt, The Teenage Brain: A Neuroscientist’s Survival Guild to Raising Adolescents and Young Adults, (New York: HarperCollins, 2015); Tamara L. Doremus-Fitzwater, Elena I. Varlinskaya, and Linda P. Spear, “Motivational Systems in Adolescence: Possible Implications for Age Differences in Substance Abuse and Other Risk-Taking Behaviors,” Brain and Cognition 71, no. 1 (2010): 114–123.

[ii] Debra K. Braun-Courville and Mary Rojas, “Exposure to Sexually Explicit Web Sites and Adolescent Sexual Attitudes and Behaviors,” Journal of Adolescent Health 45 (2009): 156–162; Peter and Valkenburg (2007); C. Marston and R. Lewis, “Anal Heterosex among Young People and Implications for Health Promotion: A Qualitative Study in the UK,” BJM Open 4 (February 4, 2016): 1–6; Emily R. Rothman, et al., “Multi-Person Sex among a Sample of Adolescent Female Urban Health Clinic Patients,” Journal of Urban Health: Bulletin of the New York Academy of Medicine 89, no. 1 (2011): 129–137; E. Häggström-Nordin, U. Hanson, and T. Tydén, “Association between Pornography Consumption and Sexual Practices among Adolescents in Sweden,” International Journal of STD & AIDS 16 (2005): 102 – 107; Svedin, ibid.

National Center on Sexual Exploitation

Founded in 1962, the National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE) is the leading national organization exposing the links between all forms of sexual exploitation such as child sexual abuse, prostitution, sex trafficking and the public health crisis of pornography.

Further Reading

Related