I got a similar problem using linux Mint Mate 14. Only mine started with either steam or play on linux. what happens even on a freshly wiped Hard drive, the install oges fine, but when I try to log in it bounces me back to the log in screen. I cant get into the gui.
I tried on differrent hard drives, I asked for support, got ignored, so I said the heck with it and installed ubunto 12.04, which works fine. Its not as nice as linux Mint Mate 14 but at least the damn thing works.
Something got placed into the memory and when ever I place that disk in Mint14 Mate, it goes into the same routine on me, endlessly taking me back to the login screen. The shame of it is that I like Mint Mate the best, but just cant get it to run all of a sidden, and it was running fine until I messed around with Steam and play on linux....
OS: Linux Mint 16 KDE
Motherboard: Gigabyte EP45-UD3P Rev. 1.6 FE BIOS
CPU: Intel Core2Quad Q8400 2.66 GHz.
Memory: GSkill: 4 GB DDR2 800 MHz.
GPU: PCI-E 3 NVidia GEFORCE GTX 650 DDR 5, 1GB Ram
Drives: Int: 500 GiB WD HDD, Ext: USB 2 500 GiB HDD