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The Public Good

Just when I think it’s safe to put it down, something ‎happens that makes me pick up my This Is What The Fourth Estate Is Here For sign.

Screenshot of the Framerate Police Steam page. Via NeoGAF.
Via NeoGAF.

 

PC gaming critic TotalBiscuit has started up a new curation group on Steam, called The Framerate Police. The group seeks to identify which games on Steam are locked to 30 FPS‎. It states that it does so purely objectively, without prejudice; games that don’t need 30 FPS, like Guild of Dungeoneering and hidden-object titles, are thus lumped in with the underperforming AAA monoliths one would expect the group to target.

Subsequently, firestorms. Blood and thunder. Developers blocking the group on Steam while ‎gamers rage, rage against the dying of things they maybe could have gotten points on Reddit for. A catastrophic concatenation of hopes and dreams. How dare TB, etc. etc., love this industry, mumble mumble, indies.

I’m always amazed when our collective Stockholm Syndrome rears its pale head, but I guess I shouldn’t be.

Name-and-shame is a longstanding tradition ‎in media. It’s how we stop certain things from happening — by picking a thing our audience might want more information about, for the public good, and telling them who is doing that thing.

It’s a technique with a terrible, terrible reputation, mind you. Many media outlets are guilty of using name-and-shame techniques to reveal personal information about individuals — a foul, disgusting invasion of privacy and a thing that should not happen.

But when it is used properly — when it is pointed at governments and companies, public entities that want to take our money — then we absolutely should know how many bureaucrats are getting six-figure salaries from the taxpayer. How many publishers are putting their games under launch-day review embargoes. And how many devs are locking games to 30 FPS.

The Framerate Police have stated that they’re going to start including genre information with the games that fall under their purview, so that it’s easy to tell which games are the Guilds of Dungeoneerings and which are the Arkham Glitchfests. A fine choice.

‎Let it be on us to remember that not all devs are the hero-programmers and gatekeepers of fun from our childhood, and that separating the hero-programmers from cynical profiteers requires knowledge — knowledge that the Framerate Police and other members of the Fourth Estate are more than happy to provide.

Can I put the sign down? I’m putting the sign down. Path of Exile is calling.

Jesse Mackenzie is the Managing Editor for aybonline.com. He often writes while listening to the gentle hum of Star Trek engine cores. He can be reached at jessem@aybonline.com, and his opinions are his own.

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