Introduction to Gaming with Steam

February 19, 2011, By Christian Cawley

While Games for Windows Live client offers a selection of games to download and purchase as well as some additional downloadable content and integrates with your Xbox LIVE Gamertag, it isn’t the best resource for legally downloading games from the Internet.

If you’re using a powerful Windows 7 computer and want to do some hardcore gaming, your best bet is Steam, the popular online community and gaming store that was initially released as a DRM system for Half Life 2 back in 2004.

Since then the system has mushroomed, and it provides a means to register your physical game purchases as well as buy games online and access all manner of free additional content.

There are two ways to start using the Steam client. The first is to purchase a game that requires it, such as Half Life 2 or The Orange Box. You second option is to visit and create an account and download the client.

Introduction to ames on Steam

Sign-up and Install Steam

Via the Join Steam link at you can create a new account and use this to download demos and other free content as well as purchase games for your PC.

After you have signed up – providing valid and accurate details – use the Install Steam link to begin the installer software.

The Steam client is more than just a community – it is also a DRM tool and download manager. If you have had issues with DRM previously, you will find that this system rarely fails and is a great way to purchase games and reinstall them later if you need to change PCs or reinstall Windows

Steam is available for both Windows and Mac OS X computers (the latter must be equipped with an Intel processor and be running Leopard 10.5.8, Snow Leopard 10.6.3, or later) and requires 1 GB of hard disk space. Windows computers should be running Windows XP, Vista, or 7 and be equipped with a minimum of 1 Ghz or faster processor and 512 MB RAM.

Using Steam – Finding Games

One of the great things about Steam is its wide selection of games. Professional, big name titles can be found alongside low budget and free efforts from new developers

Once the Steam client has been installed on your PC it can be opened via the system tray. Here you will find four options:

  • Store – all of the games available via Steam
  • Library – a list of the Steam-activated products you own and have installed
  • News – latest network, community and games news from Steam
  • Community – access to the Steam community; this requires a separate registration and login.

Via the Store you will find top titles and low budget indie games lined up alongside each other – the Genres drop down provides an opportunity to browse RPG and Indie games as easily as Action and MMO titles.

With Steam you can add and remove new and old purchases and even chat to other games while you play – concepts that we’ll take a look at next time.

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