Digital Distraction: Steam

This weekend I recommend not an individual game, but a platform for gamers called Steam. What is Steam? In some ways it’s like an iTunes for desktop video games. You download the Steam app—for Mac or Windows—and with the app you can purchase and download from a huge library of video games. Steam is also a community of gamers. You can follow other games, see when they’re online playing, or even compare progress through games. I don’t use Steam’s social features much, but I do love the platform for several reasons:

  1. The sales. Steam sells games at deep discounts all the time. I’ve purchased some phenomenal, full-length desktop games for $3-4 through Steam, and many for $5-10.
  2. The classic titles. You can download lots of classic games on Steam that you could never find in stores. These games are often cheap, can run well on most hardware (even older machines), and bring back memories of game days past.
  3. Indie games. Steam also sells many independent video games. These are often very affordable, and give you a chance to see some of the most innovative gameplay being developed today.
  4. Cross-platform. The Steam library for Mac isn’t as big as its Windows library, but it’s grown fast since Steam for Mac was released last year. I spend most of my time in OS X and have enjoyed being able to play games there as well.
  5. Ownership in the cloud. When you buy a game on Steam, Steam remembers that you own the game. If you want to download the game for another machine—if you want to install it on your desktop and laptop, for instance, or if you purchase a new computer—you simply log in and install it. Steam won’t charge you again for the same game. You can even install a cross-platform game on your PC and Mac at no additional charge.

No matter what kind of games you like, Steam probably has you covered. Download the app and try it out this weekend.

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