I’ve been a little discontent with my Steam game organisation for a while now. Shortly after the Steam library update came out, I removed my manually constructed categories and went gung-ho on creating ‘dynamic collections’ using genre flags and store tags. The benefit of creating a dynamic collection in this manner is that games added to your library will be automatically classified into collections for you.

Great in theory, not so much in practice.

Filters are Always ‘AND’

If you select multiple genres, store tags, or filters in general — a game will only display in this search (or collection) if they match each criterion. You have no option to do an ‘Or’ search, allowing a game with one or more of the selected filters applied to display.

Why is this a problem?

Well, consider the example of wanting to set up a dynamic category for your Roguelike/Roguelite games. You can’t. Only games that have been tagged as both (incorrectly, in this case) would appear. Any game with just one or the other tag wouldn’t.

And it gets worse:

Don’t want to make individual categories for each of these? TOO BAD.

‘But Nait,’ you might say, ‘I enjoy being incredibly pedantic about my game categorisation. This sounds great.’

Well, it might be, except…

Tags are Inconsistently Applied and Often Outright Wrong

So you see my overly pedantic friend, this whole dynamic collection thing isn’t going to help you very much either.

The most recent example of this I saw was the ‘Early Access’ tag. I used to have a category dedicated to early access titles I wanted to check up on over time. It was great! So I went to set this up again and discovered that the ‘Early Access’ was still applied to even games that had launched out of early access years upon years ago.

Alright, well, at least we can find a tag that will put all the games in a given series together… Right?

*Shakes head* Nope.

No More!

I put up with the limitations and quirks of the system for a while, but no more. For example, having games that should be together in a category not be… Or the other way around, e.g., why are there factory builder games in my ‘Open World’ category? I mean… I guess I can kinda see it. But this really isn’t what anyone else understands by ‘Open World’, is it?

So I deleted all the dynamic collections I had set up and revelled in the giant ‘Uncategorised’ list it left me.

It’s really quite liberating. I feel free. Like I should rip off my clothes and run down a mountain path with everything flapping free. … err, right. Where were we?

Oh yes. Giant uncategorised lists.

I will eventually do something more with it. Perhaps I’ll go through and put things back into genre categories that make sense to me again by hand.

For now I’ve created a few categories in the structure of ‘YEAR – MM Month’ in which I placed the games I purchased that month, so that I can keep track of what I’ve bought when and what is still on my backlog.

I have to say, it has made my Steam listing take on a much more judgemental air. As if it’s sitting there being awl, ‘Yeah- You bought 3 games in May. And played 0 of them’. And, ‘Six games in April! Want me to show you how many of those are unplayed? Because I can!’

I will accept the judgemental tone to my game listing though, because I fully acknowledge that it has happened more than once that I’ve picked up a game, keen to play it — but didn’t — then later, sometimes much later, surprising myself with the rediscovery of fact I owned said game.

At least I haven’t picked up anything new in June, eh? Although… There is still time left. And I hear there might be another Steam sale soon…


Naithin

Gamer, reader, writer, husband and father of two boys. Former WoW and Gaming blogger, making a return to the fold to share my love of all things looty.

8 Comments

Hannah · June 25, 2021 at 12:42 am

Please no mountain flapping 🤣 Frolicking is approved, flapping…

In seriousness though, my Steam library is a mess because I started setting up folders and couldn’t be arsed to properly sort my games so it’s really not all that effective. Woops! I did go through and tags every single horror game in my GOG library though, so I have that going for me? I wish we could just auto filter by the tags Steam already utilises, tbh.

    Naithin · June 25, 2021 at 10:20 am

    What? No flapping? I was just thinking of waving my arms around like a bird. What were you thinking? ;D

    But yes, I do wish the Steam tags were more useful. I think I could get around most of the issues with the system though if I was able to select an ‘OR’ condition though instead of it always being ‘AND’ for everything.

MagiWasTaken · June 25, 2021 at 2:13 am

For me, the dynamic collections are actually working quite well but then again, I tend to just have one genre in there unless I go for static collections that I make myself where I add all the roguelikes and whatever. Like, you could create a roguelike collection and then just drag and drop all the titles in there… and then a roguelite collection and drag and drop the titles in there… and then you’d have a list of roguelikes and/or roguelites.

But the issue at hand is mostly that the user-curated tags are often wrong or they spark debates over whether or not a game like MidBoss is actually LGBTQIA+ or whether Isaac is a Roguelike or a Roguelite, which in itself is a silly debate but because of its existence, Steam often tags games as Roguelites and Roguelikes, which is weird. If enough people tag Isaac as a Third Person Shooter, it would end up saying that it indeed is a third person shooter, even if it’s wrong.

Anyways, if you need help organising your mess there, let me know! Lovely post though. :)

    Naithin · June 25, 2021 at 10:22 am

    Until at least ‘OR’ tag conditional selects are possible, I don’t think I’ll be going back to the Dynamic Library setup.

    I think the issue is one of comparison — the genre categories I used to have setup by hand were just simply better than the automated ones.

    The fact that they are automated doesn’t outweigh that for me any more, so going back to the drawing board on how I might want categories to work, and playing around with ideas like the ‘When did I purchase / add it to my library’ one. :)

Rakuno · June 25, 2021 at 3:00 am

The problem with tags is, if I am understanding it correctly, they are added by the community. And any community large enough will have it’s shares of trolls. For example, I swear there are trolls that put Sexual Content/Nudity tags in every visual novel on Steam regardless if it has it or not.

There were other games in the past where I saw tags that clearly didn’t match the game and were just the community trolling but unfortunately I can’t recall any of the top off my head.

So, yeah, using store tags as a form of organization is probably not as useful as it sounds.

Anyway, hope you find a new form of organization that works better for you.

    Naithin · June 25, 2021 at 10:25 am

    Thanks Rakuno, and yes you’re 100% right — the store tags are by and large community driven.

    I believe publishers / developers can preseed their game with some tags, but there isn’t any way at this point in time to ONLY use publisher driven tags rather than the community ones.

Jeromai · June 26, 2021 at 12:45 am

I gave up using tags the moment I tried to create an “interactive fiction” collection and realized that not all of my text-based choose-your-own-adventure games were filed under it; while a whole slew of other games with no text and barely any interactivity – aka walking simulators – also appeared under the category. “…” Patently, whoever tagged them does not share a similar definition of the phrase.

After some desultory attempts at manually sorting games into categories and having oodles of trouble with those hybrids that straddled various genres, I realized that sorting games into categories wasn’t really working for me. I don’t actually go “Hmm, today I feel like a First Person Shooter, what FPSes do I own?” It’s way too general. I go by specific impressions of particular games and it usually winds up being a typed search by name.

So now I leave it mostly on Recently Played and just scroll or search as needed.

The Steam collections I’ve put to use as a sort of after-I’ve-played filing box, where they go into score categories: 1-2 means a “I never want to see them again” folder, 3-6 is a “meh, might revisit when really bored” folder, 7-8 are the “pretty fun, might revisit these now and then” group, and 9-10 are the “hell, yes, favorite games, much loved, revisit all the time” bunch.

Anyway, your timing is impeccable. The Steam sale is here! Yay, the Steam sale is here! We won’t see another until the Winter sale! Or maybe Black Friday! Or Halloween! But surely, we’ll want to play lots of cool games between now and then!

    Naithin · June 26, 2021 at 2:52 am

    I like your idea of a rating based categorisation. And the fact I also rarely look for a game by category is the only reason I lasted so long without bothering to fix the tagging issue.

    But the fact it was so… off… finally irked me enough to do something about it. Right now going down the path of rating things primarily by when I obtained them. But I’ve only done 2021 by month and 2020 as a whole year so far.

    And also only ones bought directly in Steam. A lot of the ones I picked up in a bundle I’m likely to throw into effectively a trash category. Ok, perhaps that’s a little harsh. But certainly an, ‘I’m almost certain I won’t play any of these’ category.

    Maybe I’ll supplement all this with a post-play rating system similar to yours as well though. I dunno. I’m not in any particular rush right now, just glad to be done with the dynamic categories for the moment. xD

Comments are closed.