Short Assignment #2: Criticism

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Surprisingly, when prompted with this assignment (to discuss how my understanding and judgment of a product changed from the first time I encountered it), it took some thought to come up with a proper example. I tried thinking of cooking products that maybe I misunderstood or sewing or cleaning products. But these examples were always just instances of confusion before I learned how to properly use a product. Otherwise, I could only think of examples where I disliked a product, yet never gave it a chance to redeem itself or if I did, it did not succeed.

Finally, I came to the realization that there is a software program I use almost every single day now that I disliked during my first several encounters with it. The program in particular is a digital software distribution program called Steam. My first encounter with the Steam program was around 2005 or 2006, much after its official release in 2004. A friend of mine had recommended the software to me, but upon using it, I was turned off by the slow speed, the digital ownership aspect, and the sheer size of the program. I didn’t quite understand why I should actively be using a program that took up so much memory on my computer that accomplished very little. The only times I wanted to have the program open was to play a valve game that I owned (and back then, those games were very few). I also felt very strongly against the idea of digital distribution back then because traditionally, I would go out to the store to buy a video game box of the newest, coolest game. Steam’s idea was that you use a credit card to buy the ownership rights to a game through their program. Once purchased, the owner of that game could download it from their servers as long as they were logged into the account at a computer from anywhere. Not only did I feel like this was game purchasing with strings attached, but that they were trying to take away a part of the experience from me.

Steam launched what they call the Steam Community in 2007. Since this feature caused an immense growth in active users, Steam began carrying many publisher names in their catalog such as EA, Activision, 2K, Capcom, Rockstar, and so on. This meant that Steam was starting to sell a whole lot more and gain millions of active users. Steam has grown and changed rapidly since then, adding more client functionality, an in-game overlay, peer to peer chatting, an anti-cheat system, and numerous other extensive patches.

Steam UI

I gave Steam another chance around this time in 2007 because a popular game they introduced at the time required the user to launch the Steam Program in order to play. I reacted much more positively towards their system at that time due to the larger focus on community and the chat program was much more attractive and easier to use than other programs I was running at the time (namely AIM or MSN). Their more gamer-geared crowd was much more appealing and I quickly made a lot of new friends and acquaintances using the Steam program and its online games.

Aside from the multiple patches and community that really got me involved with the program, I think the fact that I changed as a person helped me feel differently towards using Steam. I started using their digital distribution system because I found it much easier to purchase games through their store using money I made from part-time jobs at that age. I found it extremely convenient to be able to read about game ratings, have access to exclusive sales, and talk to other people about what good games were to buy. Now I can access my entire library of games that I own through Steam from any of my computers at any time I want as long as I have access to my account. Because my feelings changed on these matters, I now love using the Steam program and am glad that my change in opinion has lead me to enjoy its many benefits and keep on gaming!

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