clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Let’s all play the game about ‘90s internet porn that got banned on Steam

New, 4 comments

Because you’re oppositional, too

You Must Be 18 or Older to Enter is a game about porn. To be clear, it is not actually porn, a rather important differentiation. In a landmark obscenity case, the threshold test for pornography was famously articulated by Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart as “I know it when I see it.” Unfortunately, it appears that the digital games distributor Valve has a harder time making the distinction between art and base titillation than a 50-year-old judge back in 1964.

According to one of the game’s developers, Valve’s distribution platform, Steam, recently removed You Must Be 18 or Older to Enter from its online store on the basis that it was porn (which, again, it is not). This is a conspicuously bad decision, and one that betrays a deep lack of nuance about art and entertainment in general — something that seems relevant to the largest digital distributor of PC games in the world. What entertainment is about is not what it is; horror games, for example, are typically games about murder, but they are not actually crimes (except in the case of Friday the 13th, which is a travesty).

Dismissing a game with obvious artistic merit as porn is an especially poor precedent to set within a medium that has long struggled for artistic recognition. But if you’re anything like me, this will only make you want to play the game more. The good news is that you still can — and you should, because it’s great. Even better, it’s free!

Hot stuff

Just in case there are any lingering questions about the salacious nature of You Must Be 18 or Older to Enter, it is useful to note that it is a) made partly out of ASCII art, and b) a horror game. You play as a kid who’s home alone in the 1990s and decides to log on to AOL and look at porn for the very first time before his parents return. It’s a painfully realistic experience in how scary, thrilling and confusing it is to the young mind of your protagonist.

Rather than axe-wielding murderers or otherworldly monsters, the jump scares in You Must Be 18 or Older to Enter revolve around the paranoia of getting caught by your parents in flagrante delicto with the hottest pics a 14.4 baud modem can download. After all, what is getting attacked by a serial killer compared to having your mom walk in on you while you’re gazing slack-jawed at milfs? Survival, here, means avoiding the sort of embarrassment that at least feels like being stabbed by a thousand knives.

So can you get away with it or will you and your parents share a moment that none of you ever want to remember? There’s only one way to find out! If you’re playing it at work, do remember that this is a game about porn (about!), and there will briefly be some sexy noises — and some even sexier question marks and plus signs. Rowr.