Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Putting miles into my Steam account


I'm very big on materialism when it comes to games. I enjoy having a physical copy of a game, manually inserting the disk into the console, and then shelving it away like a good book. It's a sense of ownership that a collector feels, and it's something I'll always favor. But, being a new dad and assuming more responsibilities, I sometimes can't afford the luxury of owning tangible copies of games. I guess this was what led me to embrace more of Steam's approach to games.

Yes, I know Steam has been there for a while, and yes, I've had my account for quite some time. But back then, I never felt any value towards owning merely a digital copy of video games. There wasn't even some virtual shelf for me to "place" the games in; the library listing felt so boring, so dull. No longer could I "put my favorite game in the system and hit the power button." All it was now was a simple click on a "play" button on the screen, and I'm up and running. Call me old-fashioned, but that takes away half the enjoyment that video games bring.

However, I overlooked one simple fact. Most of the games offered by Steam can't even afford to become physical copies. Many are just indie games, games created by people who just wanted to bring their project to life without the messiness that physical mediums carry with them, such as publisher and distributor costs. Then I realized the one injustice I brought onto myself for not embracing Steam - I'd deprive myself from many many good games, games I would never have experienced without Steam.


Take Machinarium, for instance. A masterfully artistic point-and-click adventure, Machinarium is a sight to behold. Half the time I'm just admiring the scenery, and the other half playfully struggles with the thoughfully laid-out puzzles throughout. It clearly falls within the same ranks as The Neverhood, Monkey Island, and many LucasArts titles. And I would have missed it if it weren't for Steam.


Another game I probably wouldn't have known if it weren't for Steam would be Jamestown, a SHMUP game based in 17th-century British Colonial Mars. That alone should be a selling point. Graphically, it shows the traditional trademarks of a standard SHMUP, from the pixelated graphics to the tiny hitbox on the player to avoid the "bullet hell" that could ensue. Most SHMUP games are exclusive from Japan (being the "bullet hell" masochists they are), so this game would've skirted past my radar if it wasn't for Steam.

While I will still go out of the way to make the occasional materialistic purchase, there's nothing like getting a digital game on the cheap to play at a moment's notice.
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