Ostensibly, Steam tags are helpful, because if I want to find a list of open world games, I can find them all via the “open world” tag. But everyone who is adding tags to Steam games is not playing by the same rule book. Sometimes there is no book.
I’ve spent the afternoon looking through this gargantuan list on the hunt for tags that make this experiment worthwhile. The ridiculous, the absurd, the “Nanomachines, son”.
What’s in your recommended tags list? Mine is pretty mundane, covering a broad range of bog standard genres and a few outliers like “vampire” because I own Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2. But there are a few that demand explanation. “What is a man?” one tag asks me. I don’t know, so I click on it. It’s Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 once again. A man is apparently Robert Carlyle. Maybe it’s just because it’s my newest game, but Castlevania is rather prominent in my list. Apparently it’s "NOT Castlevania", though, because a tag told me it wasn’t.
Amid Call of Duty: Ghosts' rather negative tags are two especially informative ones: “Fish Ai [sic]” and “Dog”. The game’s next-generation fish were certainly the talk of the town, and Riley was undoubtedly the hero of that unfortunate mess. So if you like fish and dogs, you could probably do worse than Ghosts. If you like Garbage.
Some, I suspect, will only see use in one or two games. “[Glass him]” is one such tag. Telltale’s The Wolf Among Us is one of the few games where a prompt appears that allows you to savagely maul a man with broken glass, so we’re getting down to some very specific tags here. Helpful if, like me, you’re from Glasgow and you think glassing someone is the same as saying hello.
We’re getting the point where roguelike or roguelike-like is not a very helpful description for a game. It’s also the source of countless, utterly meaningless arguments on semantics. So here’s a tag that solves these problems: “Procedural Death Labyrinth”. I can’t think of a better sub-genre name.
There’s a chance that some tags are not actually representative of a game. The tags for Let’s Sing do not fall into this category: “Get Gud or Die Tryin’”, “high impact sexual violence” and “Karaoke”. Singing is a dangerous game. Best avoided, I reckon.
I think it’s safe to say that Valve might have to tweak Steam tags if there’s any hope of them being useful rather than a piss-take or an avenue for catharsis. But in the mean time, it’s good to know where I can find some “Grandma love” while I'm spending time "Vomitting [sic] into your children".