Playing With Steam Sales

Games retailers play games with us. Double cash back for your used game, so long as that cash comes back to us in the form of a used console purchase! Or my favorite, the toy store offering all games at super discount of their games, only they stocked a mere five titles — one of which was good, and it's sold out. I get it: They want to get us excited about doing business with them. Ideally, they want buying games to be as much fun as playing games.

The folks running the Steam put extra effort into this, and probably get extra room to experiment due to being part of a forward-looking private company in a generally forward-facing industry. Steam encourages programs to help us laugh about how much time we've wasted via Steam. They toy with us via flash sales. And then there are the sale games themselves, voting for your favorite game to get a discount, or getting tokens for trading game items and coupons — tokens that might be worth more coupons.

Somehow Steam has done something more, though. We are experiencing emergent play based around their sales.

I've gotten used to seeing friends rise through the ranks of games writing to show up on pages like Kotaku. I like seeing friends get recognition, even if it also means getting exposed to comment sections from more mainstream sites. But today is the first time I've seen a Kotaku post book-ended by Tweets from my friends. I've noticed this happening in social spaces all across the internet, though: We are not just joking about our silly and irrational experiences with Steam Sales, we are to the point where we playfully imagine new ways for Steam to help us gladly give them our money.

It started with jokes and schemes. Jokes about the pile, about getting games that we'll never get around to playing while they're cheap. About filthy enablers getting us to admit that we really wanted to give Steam that money all along.

And schemes. Schemes to never buy a game while it's publisher's games were all on sale over the course of the week, but waiting to make sure the game itself didn't get a deeper discount. We form groups to get package deals, and sometimes there's an extra license in the deal that we kick over to a friend in need of some entertainment. You combine fun and strategy, though, and out pops something that looks a lot like a simple game.

And that's not the only Steam Sale game we're making up. Over the years, we've started to make games about enabling game purchases, especially Steam purchases. GWJ being such a marvelously positive and outgoing place, we got into giving people gift copes of games. Sometimes games from their wish list, or games we think they might enjoy. Sometimes games that the recipient doesn't even want. Sometimes games that nobody wants.

We are beyond simple emergent games of bowling for pedestrians in an open world; we've gone from general emergent play onto deviant play. We have emergent trolling of Steam gifts. At the GameStop down the block, I can only imagine this happening as part of some elaborate hidden-camera or sketch comedy show, where a friend would browse the store, maybe make one or two considered purchases, and then they'd leave. Except as they opened the door to leave, I'd spring at them, stuff Secret Of The Magic Crystals under their arm, and run away, laughing maniacally.

[Side note: Please do not pitch that idea to GameStop's board of directors.]

We now have over 4,000 posts on a GWJ thread specifically titled as discussion about gifting games. I just visited our Summer Sale Gift-All thread today for the first time. Honestly, I haven't really had time to check any threads except the Front Page and the Writers Guild for weeks now. But somehow I've personally received free games off my wish list every blinking day since the sale started.

You people are monsters — adorable, playful monsters. I love you and thank you, and I'm sure Steam does, too.

Comments

And now every time I see SotMC gifted, I'm going imagine the gifter doing that to the giftee.

Sometimes games that nobody wants.

I wouldn't say nobody.

I have been following the Steam sale thread pretty closely and I have been awestruck by the generosity of goodjers.

Just another reason this place feels like home.

IMAGE(http://i.imgur.com/RpGjZ.png)

Beware they await to strike.

momgamer wrote:

And now every time I see SotMC gifted, I'm going imagine the gifter doing that to the giftee.

That is EXACTLY how I gift them

I just noticed I received my first gift not from my brother!! Woohooo!! Time to go thank the gifter via PM....unless Audiosurf is an inside joke here, and I'm out of the loop...in that case...grrrr....

I'm suprised the originator of Shalalm Baskur hasn't had a few mercy gifts tossed his way I would have if I hadn't blown my $100 gifting budget 3 days into the sale.

Quite. Unfortunately I blew out my out my budget by 50%, only spent 25% of that on myself. Which is actually kinda nice.

Here there be monsters!

IMAGE(http://i16.photobucket.com/albums/b23/cobble75/crystals.jpg)

That blasted thread got four new pages of posts since I put this up last night. Tribbles, that's what you are.

I have a winner for the "Goodjer most unimpressed to have received Secret of the Magic Crystals" competition. I felt like Ray Liotta talking to Joe Pesci.

Maq wrote:

I have a winner for the "Goodjer most unimpressed to have received Secret of the Magic Crystals" competition. I felt like Ray Liotta talking to Joe Pesci.

Hey I resemble this remark!

I've been busy at work at haven't/cant' follow the thread for most of the day. It's the reason I haven't been around there much, since the weekend (stupid blocking GWJ at work, no cell phone in the office, grumble grumble grumble).

I owe you something you actually want at some point, Tiger.

Stele wrote:

Just another reason this place feels like home.

This might not be the EXACT place for it, but the game gifting basically cemented the fact that I'm extremely glad with the choice to join this community. I might only be a few months in, but just the sheer positivity in basically every thread I've hopped on has been overwhelming. I've been a part of other online communities that seem like a well knit group but eventually break down from drama (real or misinterpreted), but I've yet to stumble onto anything like that around here. Might be I'm checking the wrong threads

Basically, just wanted to say good on ya, goodjers!

Cobble wrote:

Here there be monsters!

IMAGE(http://i16.photobucket.com/albums/b23/cobble75/crystals.jpg)

Dude, you named names? I'm just glad you can't get tagged twice around here. I'd be down for Pony Princess, although I think it was Elycion that got me started on this kick when he refered to me as m0nk3ybrony

Don't forget, we've also coined the term Gifthausered in that thread too!

That white elephant image is perfect. Well done to whoever crafted that!

Rezzy wrote:

That white elephant image is perfect. Well done to whoever crafted that!

Agreed. I think during the last winter sale Faierie Solitaire was being tossed around a fair bit as well.

It's stuff like the Gift-All thread that restores a little bit of my faith in humanity every time I read it.

Rezzy wrote:

That white elephant image is perfect. Well done to whoever crafted that!

I took some time in MS Paint to an original CC image by "Frits" on Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/hikinga...

To be fair, the thread started as general discussion about the Steam sale, but I renamed it when I realized that of the multiple hundreds of posts that popped up one afternoon, the majority of them were about giving or receiving gifts.

It's interesting that I've gone from checking the daily sales and flash sales for my own sake to solely keeping an eye out for inexpensive games I could send to other people.

Because I'm buried under a huge backlog of PS3/PSP/Vita games, I don't really buy that many Steam games. Though, I did buy several from steam during these sales. Ys Origins, Ys Felghana, and a few others, but they were all ones that were on my wishlist already that I just needed to pounce on while they were on sale. I gave my brother a copy of Ys Origins while it was $8, even though he will probably never play it. (Maybe my nephew will though.)

Other games on my wishlist haven't dipped low enough for me to purchase them, such as Endless Space at $30. I'm not seeing myself get to that one anytime soon.

kazriko wrote:

Because I'm buried under a huge backlog of PS3/PSP/Vita games, I don't really buy that many Steam games.

It's like you're daring people to buy you games ... or was that your plan all along!?

Steam: The gift that Goodjers keep on giving.