Usually when I stumble upon something awesome, something that isn’t shiny and new, I take to Twitter and ask, “Why didn’t anyone tell me about this?” It’s my cover for being oblivious. For instance, I never knew that Pringles made cheeseburger chips or that Coca-Cola made Raspberry Coke.  Why didn’t anyone tell me?  Did I miss some important meeting?  I’m a raspberry freak!  I put raspberries on top of my raspberries, which are drenched in raspberry syrup.

It always seems that I am one of the last people to hear about things.  It’s like I need a secretary to keep me abreast of new developments.  Or maybe I should leave my apartment more often after work.  Once you finish reading this article, you will probably say, “fat chance!”

If you play video games, then you likely know about Steam, and how awesome it is.  You can’t say too many good things about a consumer-friendly online hub that allows gamers to connect with and share games with friends.  Yeah, I’m a fan.

I didn’t leave Vault 101 yesterday, but I can’t blame anyone for thinking so.  I mean, I’m gushing about Steam.  That’s akin to raving about how delicious garlic bread is.  It’s common knowledge.

I can’t help myself, though.  As someone who has lived on console games, I have been impressed – highly impressed – by Steam.  Oh!  Someone sent me a game!  Ah, this is awesome!

For those who have been on Steam for a long time, this is nothing new; however, for someone who has played console video games for his entire life, it is a whole new experience.  And on some level, I am surprised with how quickly I dove in.  Although, let’s be honest, I shouldn’t be surprised at all.  I am still doing what I enjoy – playing games solo and with friends – but on a different platform.  I’m like that kid who gets a console for Christmas – except I don’t scream as much.  OK, I scream and bounce around as much – if not more.

I have known about Steam for a long time.  You don’t write about video games for close to five years without picking up on a few things.  My issue has always been simple: my laptops and desktops have never been powerful enough to run pc games.  I tried to play the Diablo 3 demo on my Dell desktop, and I got a fatal error because I didn’t have the proper shader.  In truth, I am lucky that my computer didn’t melt like the Wicked Witch of the West.  It looks like it can handle a lot, but I’ve played far more Mahjong than anything else.

Candice always jokes that my desktop is a glorified calculator, and I can’t do anything but laugh and agree. It’s funny and true.  If I ever want to play some Hearts, Minesweeper or Machinarium, I am good to go, but after that, things get sketchy.  Is there an HD version of Math Blaster?   Because I am pretty certain that my Dell desktop can’t handle it.

Steam was a priority when I shopped for a new laptop.  When you spend most of your adulthood telling Dell associates that you want your computer to store music and pictures, you don’t know where to look first when shopping for a gaming computer.  Um, do they come in blue?

Luckily I have friends who are far more knowledgeable on the subject than I am.

My first nights with my laptop have been spent busting up goblins, orcs, and ogres in Dungeon Defenders, with Candice helping me turn my badass monk into a badass monk who kicks the shit out of other badass monks and eats nails with his morning cup of green tea.  He’s got the eye of the tiger!  He also listens to Survivor.  Or maybe just one or two songs.

And to my surprise, I received a gift, The Binding of Isaac, within a day or so of playing on Steam (thanks, Carlos!).  How cool is that?  OK, so it might not seem that exciting, but for someone who is using Steam for the first time, it’s a big deal.   I can’t gift games on the PlayStation Network, which has been my primary platform for playing downloadable games.  And with the crazy sales on Steam, I will be able to buy and gift a lot of games.  I spend carefully, but I could go nuts during a Steam sale.  You know how people buy more games than they will be able to play, and only because the deals are seemingly too good to pass up.  Hell, I already bought Spec Ops: The Line, which was 75% off of normal price.  After all of the good things I have heard about the story, I had to bite.

The Steam sales are ingenious, and I wish that PSN would go as crazy with deals.  What’s not to love about getting big games at rock-bottom prices?

Beyond the ridiculous deals, Steam has a strong community aspect that makes multiplayer games appealing, and despite Sony Computer Entertainment’s best efforts, that isn’t something you get on PSN.  If you see me on PSN, I am probably flying solo.

Steam has been everything I expected.  You can listen to people gush about it, but you can never appreciate the service until you actually use it.  With PlayStation Plus and Steam, I have little reason, outside of the occasional exception, such as Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time, to walk into a GameStop, Target, or Best Buy.   And when very few games at retail seem worth $60, Steam is a boon.

I am late to the watering hole on this one, and that is usually the case, but now I am excited to dig deeper into Steam and its creamy nougat core.   If I ask for recommendations, I expect to be crushed under the weight of tens or hundreds of titles.  But of course, I like getting suggestions, so if there is a game you really enjoy, don’t be afraid to share it!  With a ton of stuff to play, including Dungeon Defenders, The Binding of Isaac, and Spec Ops: The Line, as well as the occasional round of Duck Hunt, which helps keep my wits and reflexes sharp, I am sure that I will get to it sometime.  Maybe.  Probably not.


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