There’s an Alex Jones game on Steam, and it’s just as much of an embarrassment as you’d expect

InfoWars host Alex Jones now has a game on Steam⁠—the same Alex Jones who fundraised for and attended the January 6 protests that led to the storming of the US Capitol building and who owes $1.5 billion to the families of murdered children over defamation.

It won’t surprise you to hear that Alex Jones: NWO Wars is not a good game, but its warmed over meme jokes have accrued over 400 positive reviews in just a few days. Reading them is awesome⁠—they have the energy of those commenters on Reddit all trying to be the funniest guy in the room by saying the same thing, and AJ:NWOW seems to be cresting a wave of memetic popularity, yucking it up on the platform after a more limited release last November.

The best thing I can say about the Alex Jones game is that it took me about 36 minutes to beat, well within Steam’s two-hour refund window. Also, fair is fair, the pixel art is bafflingly competent⁠—it has a kind of “corporate indie” look, something you might see in the okayest Steam releases of the mid-2010s. Otherwise? It’s kind of a piece of dogshit, and quality aside, it’s an embarrassment for the platform.

I guess we’re reviewing this thing

AJ:NWOW is a low-effort riff on Metal Slug. You can only aim directly up and down or side to side despite the game only supporting analogue stick movement and no d-pad controls⁠—it has a fiddly imprecision leaving you flailing about like somebody having a Garry’s Mod freakout. Add in some persistent input lag alongside mysterious and ineffable hitboxes and you’ve got a real sloppy piece of work. Thankfully it’s so easy and generous with lives you can just choke it down like you’re dry-swallowing one of InfoWars’ dubious nootropics.

The real draw is meant to be the Alex Jones-themed “anti-woke” comedy, but it struck me as this slavish, capering routine running through the greatest hits of Jones’ decade plus of internet virality, just as dated and feeble as the platforming. AJ:NWOW leans heavily on that “they’re turning the frogs gay” rant by Jones that blew up all the way back in 2015, with gay frog enemies exploding in rainbow pride blood and Jones himself intoning “they’re turning the frogs gay” or another room temperature quip every minute on the minute like some kind of latter-day, greatly diminished Gex the Gecko.

That’s about the extent of Jones’ capacity to laugh at himself though. Instead of facing his true greatest foes like alimony payments or the Sandy Hook parents, you get these lazy caricatures of Mark Zuckerberg, Tim Cook, George Soros, the Clintons, you get the idea.

(Image credit: SVGS LLC)

And man, there are funny ways to make fun of Bill Clinton but the quip “I did not have sexual relations with that saxophone” is not one of them. He repeats that line and like two others ad nauseam during his boss fight on Little St. James Island, referred to as “Epstein Island” in-game, as if the devs don’t trust their audience. Forget the Reddit front page, this crap is Imgur circa 2011: “I tip my hat to you sir, you win one(1) internets today!”

It feels fruitless to talk about giving and receiving offence when it comes to a guy and fanbase for whom that’s kinda the point, but I do have to shout out the one time my general tired disgust rose into something more acute: the level where you mow down homeless people throwing shit at you in San Francisco. Stay classy, man.

What did we learn?

(Image credit: SVGS LLC)

I don’t know either, but this thing probably shouldn’t be on Steam. The tension of thousands of low-quality games releasing on the platform and Valve’s uniquely laissez faire moderation is one of the Big Conversations of PC gaming, and it’s one that I don’t think will ever reach a definitive conclusion.

I do know that I generally prefer Valve’s approach to other tech giants’ ceaseless, fruitless fidgeting with their moderation policies. Twitch constantly passing judgment on new types of implied nudity that either are or are not okay to appease the most annoying men on the planet, or YouTube’s arcane de- and re-monetizing of speedrun history videos for alleged adult content with no internal consistency. Give me a deluge of really bad hentai visual novels with genuinely incredible stuff like Cruelty Squad bubbling to the surface here and there any day of the week.

(Image credit: SVGS LLC)

That being said, Alex Jones:NWOW has less value than a free Flash game while asking for about $20. Those dudes leaving le epic troll positive reviews have absolutely called better games with more to offer “scams.” What’s more, I’d argue this game is in pretty clear violation of entries from Valve’s guidelines for what you shouldn’t publish on Steam, namely:

Hate speech, i.e. speech that promotes hatred, violence or discrimination against groups of people based on ethnicity, religion, gender, age, disability or sexual orientation.Libelous or defamatory statements. (the game refers to its George Soros effigy as a Nazi multiple times)Content that is patently offensive or intended to shock or disgust viewers.

Whatever the case, I’m worse off for the 36 minutes I spent with AJ:NWOW, and I don’t recommend playing it even if you’re just going to refund it. Jones and InfoWars remain banned off most major social networks and digital storefronts, including Apple, YouTube, Spotify, and Facebook, though he was recently reinstated on Twitter, a bastion of quality direction and moderation. If everyone’s disallowing something, allowing it is a statement whether it’s intended to be or not—not in support of Jones’ warped worldview, but perhaps for the same notion of ‘platform neutrality’ that Spotify has used in response to criticism of its relationship with Joe Rogan. Even Spotify won’t touch Jones, though.

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