Steam Deck giveaway hopefuls hijack Game Awards chat by spamming Linux commands

Steam Deck with Tux the penguin looking on wantonly.
(Image credit: Future / Linux)
Audio player loading…

The Game Awards (opens in new tab) last night were, as you may be aware, a bit of a shambles. Between awkward jokes, Al Pacino's failed attempts to read the teleprompter, and some kid apparently getting arrested for crashing the Elden Ring GOTY acceptance (opens in new tab), the chat was an utter mess.

As the carnage erupted on stage, those watching online had to deal with a bombardment of tomfoolery wrought by prospective Steam Deck giveaway (opens in new tab) winners spamming !steamdeck and /claim into the chat. For context, Valve was giving away one 512GB Steam Deck every minute of the show.

I feel like I was only able to catch a few comments relating to the actual games being shown, with the majority of non Steam Deck hopefuls only managing to get in the odd bewildered comment.

For anyone wondering, the format of the spam messages (those exclamation marks and forward slashes at the start) is that of Linux shell commands, which leads me to suspect devout Gabenists having a hand in the unprecedented uprising.

A Gabenist being one who pertains to the belief Gabe Newell, the "omnipotent, omniscient, omnibenevolent, omnipresent overlord of PC gaming," and head of Valve, "long ago created the Universe purely out of Steam." F**king Urban Dictionary (opens in new tab).

(Image credit: The Game Awards)

The exclamation mark in !steamdeck I assume is meant to execute specific commands, as in "gimme a goddamn Steam Deck, Gabe." Though the spammers missed a necessary space, so I'm not sure what good it will have done them.

The forward slash in /claim is in reference, no doubt, to its use in root file path names within systems. It implies that /claim is an absolute path (opens in new tab) that one can simply jump to by spamming it. Nice try.

The real joke is that nowhere in the official giveaway rules did it say anything about needing to type a single word into chat, let alone 5,000 of the same command.

Honestly, its nice to see people joining together in hope, but at points my entire screen was awash with the commands. It's hard to say whether this was a case of herd mentality, or a coordinated takeover, but one thing's for sure: it certainly filled Game Awards atmosphere with an unforgettably chaotic air for anyone watching online.

Katie Wickens
Hardware Writer

Screw sports, Katie would rather watch Intel, AMD and Nvidia go at it. Having been obsessed with computers and graphics for three long decades, she took Game Art and Design up to Masters level at uni, and has been demystifying tech and science—rather sarcastically—for two years since. She can be found admiring AI advancements, scrambling for scintillating Raspberry Pi projects, preaching cybersecurity awareness, sighing over semiconductors, and gawping at the latest GPU upgrades. She's been heading the PCG Steam Deck content hike, while waiting patiently for her chance to upload her consciousness into the cloud.