Video gamers have known about STEAM for quite a while. It was created to make updating games easier. As it has grown it has come to include much more for the gaming community. I first learned about STEAM when I found out about the Jackbox Games (Quiplash in particular). You will need steam for some board games and most commonly for board gamers, for Tabletop Simulator (hereby abbreviated as TTS).
The first step you will need to take is to download STEAM to your device. (https://store.steampowered.com/) This might take a while, so make sure you do this well ahead of your planned play session. Downloading STEAM itself does not cost anything, but once you get it downloaded, access to most games and TTS have costs associated with them, and everyone playing will be required to have paid access to the game.
Once you have downloaded STEAM, you will set up an account with a username and password. This username and password can also be used online in your browser to navigate the STEAM store and your account settings.
In the STEAM store you can browse the many titles of video games and board games available. You can browse through their “Free to Play” area. I have found most of the free titles to be video games. Searching for “Board Games” will get you a list of games available on the STEAM platform. The “big one” that you’ll want to look for is Tabletop Simulator. I’ll stop there with that, because I will be devoting an entire upcoming post on TTS. I really enjoy playing the Jackbox games through STEAM and highly recommend them. I have also played “Lords of Waterdeep” which seems to run pretty well. As with any online game, your computer system and wireless connection will play a large part in the type of experience you have.
There is a community section where you can find discussions and a marketplace, but again, I have found them to me mostly of use to the video game community, and have not used them at all in my online board game journey.
It is helpful if you are friends with the gamers you expect to be playing with, but I have found connecting with friends a clunky and annoying task. Once done, however, it is easy to connect with them for games. To connect with a friend, go to your username tab, and click friends. Then click add a friend in the left menu. You will get a code that you can give your friend or you can enter the code that they give you. Sometimes it works, sometimes it takes a couple of tries. There is also a link that you can copy and send to them. Again, I have had mixed experiences with that.
That’s about all I have to say about STEAM itself. As a boardgamer I use it about 90% for TTS, and 10% for Jackbox games and that’s about it. Your mileage may vary. It is 100% necessary for TTS though, as TTS is only available through STEAM.
Please feel free to comment, discuss and share your experiences with steam in the comments, but please also be nice. There are a lot of people trying to learn these platforms and your help and advice are welcome, but not your scorn or disrespect. I don’t claim to be an expert, and only talk about that which I am familiar with. Thank you.