Wednesday, September 09, 2009

SixDegreeSteam: The Intro

As my previous article hinted to, I am planning to write a program that expresses the link between every Steam user. As of this article's writing, there are exactly 53,300,212 accounts registered with Steam. This includes active, inactive, banned, duplicate, publisher/staff, and Internet Cafe ("multiseat") accounts. It is impossible to distinguish just how many of those accounts are actually worth the effort of this project without walking through each account profile (ironically, that's just what this project sets out to do). Each of those accounts is allowed to have a maximum of 255 friends, and an unknown (perhaps unlimited?) amount of group memberships. Now that we have some numbers down, let's talk about the actual program.

Introducing SixDegreeSteam, an attempt at mapping the Steam social network. The name is a reference to the Six Degrees of Separation sociological theory that the project is based on, which states that every person in the world is linked to every other person by no more than six people. My theory is that a similar phenomenon exists between all social mediums, specifically the Steam platform's underlying network Steam Community. However, there is a fundamental difference between Steam and other social networking mediums; Some people only use Steam to game, not make friends! This means that some accounts will have 100 friends and be members of 10 different groups, while others will have 0 friends and 0 groups. The network is even more obfuscated because some people may have friends and group memberships, but only with people they know well. This makes the web of connections incredibly shallow and in severe cases exclusive, with no connections to the mainstream web or other exclusive webs. In other words, "Everybody knows everybody" only works if "everybody" is not limited to a select few.

There are also a couple technical caveats we must address. They will be discussed in an upcoming article.

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