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Can’t decide which PC game to play next? Steam’s AI will choose a game from your library

By Darren Allan 15 May 2020

Play Next feature makes the transition from Steam Labs testing

Steam will now analyze your existing library of games and tell you which title you might want to play next based on your past gaming history on the platform.

This feature is called Play Next, rather appropriately, and it uses machine learning to try to discern which games you might enjoy from your Steam collection. It’s particularly aimed at those PC gamers who have a massive library of titles bought on Steam, and therefore might be rather bewildered as to what to try next – so the theory is it should help them make a more informed decision.

Previously, this feature was an experimental one being tested in Steam Labs, but it has now been cleared to go live with the full Steam client, so when you pick up the next update, suggested games are now highlighted in a Play Next shelf.

You can, of course, ignore the shelf if you wish, but apparently it’s got some ‘positive feedback’ from testers in the past, hence why Valve has gone ahead with fully introducing it.

Solid suggestions?

Having a quick look in our Steam account, the suggestions made seem fairly appropriate ones, although with a feature like this, there’s a good chance that mileage may vary somewhat from user to user.

If you have multiple copies of the same game, for instance, the algorithm seems to recommend games you may have already played. For instance, it recommended our computing editor the Batman Arkham City Game of the Year edition and Bioshock 2 remastered – two games they’ve definitely already played.

On the whole, however, it’s something which could be a useful addition, and if you don’t want to know what Steam’s AI algorithms think about your gaming habits, then you can simply ignore the Play Next shelf.

In other recent Steam news, Valve’s big summer sale will purportedly kick off next month on June 25, or that’s the word from the rumor mill (and indeed the source it was correct about last year’s sale).

  • Check out the best processors of 2020

The new Play Next feature is primarily intended to help those with huge game collections on Steam.

What Game Should I Play? How to Choose Your Ideal Game Genre

Gaming is an activity that anyone can enjoy. But when it comes down to choosing a game, most people get stuck at the question, what game should I play?

Gaming is an activity that anyone can enjoy. But when it comes down to choosing a game, most people get stuck at the question, what game should I play?

When most people think of gaming, they think of the stereotype of teenagers sitting in front of a TV, looking zombie-faced, holding controllers and dodging their heads from invisible bullets.

The reality is that games span across a wide assortment of genres, from action and adventure to racing, role-playing, simulation, sports, and strategy.

Which Game Should I Play? No Simple Answer

The process of choosing which game to play is more about your personality than the game itself. Everyone is different. The game you may enjoy depends largely on your age, gender, the culture where you live, your education level, and much more.

In fact, the demographics of gamers are much more diverse than people think. According to TechJury:

  • The average age of gamers is 34 years old
  • Almost half of gamers are women
  • 67% of parents play video games with their kids every week
  • People with higher education are more likely to buy games
  • More than half of overall video game purchases are for mobile games

What does this all mean? It means that video games aren’t just for kids. It means, there’s very likely a video game out there for you. And it’s a game that will help you relax and enjoy doing things that actually interest you.

So, let’s take a look at a few steps you can follow to choose the perfect game you should play.

1. What Helps Your Brain Relieve Stress?

Just one look at the available game genres on the Steam store and it’s easy to see why people get overwhelmed with all of the options.

For some people, the fast-paced nature of action games and the need for hand-eye coordination can feel overwhelming. For other people, the brain-numbing, slow-paced nature of strategy games might seem extremely boring.

But maybe adrenaline-fueled action helps you shed the anxiety of your workday. In this case, an action game may be perfect for you. Or maybe the intense focus of solving a puzzle helps you forget about that stressful 3 pm meeting at work. Then a strategy game is exactly what the doctor ordered.

It comes down to what activities help you to relieve stress and anxiety. And to determine that, you need to turn to psychology.

According to an article from Verywell Mind, stress and anxiety boils down to facing situations which you feel you don’t have the resources to cope with.

“One widely-accepted definition of stress is that it’s what occurs when the perceived demands of a situation outweigh one’s available resources. [..] Therefore, the level of resources one has available can make a significant difference in whether someone experiences stress in a given situation.”

So, it stands to reason that if you choose to play a game genre that requires skills you’re especially gifted at, it’ll reinforce your confidence, reduce your stress, and make you feel more positive about your own abilities.

This is why former military folks play first-person shooter games. College professors play strategy games. And football players play sports games.

Game Genres and Require Skills

The game you choose needs to capitalize on your natural gifts. It shouldn’t make you feel deficient in the required skills. If you’re a gifted problem solver, then you may choose a puzzle-solving simulation game like Age of Empires, or a strategy game like GemCraft.

The following are the most popular game genres, along with the skills that they capitalize on:

  • Action-Adventure: Creativity, logical thinking, pattern recognition, and problem-solving
  • Fighting: Fast reasoning, self-confidence, hand-eye coordination, and quick decision making
  • Shooting: Performing under pressure, team management, fast reasoning, and quick decision making
  • Arcade/Platform: Fast reasoning, spacial recognition, hand-eye coordination, and time management
  • Puzzle: Logical thinking, problem-solving, pattern recognition, and organization
  • Racing: Fast reasoning, spatial recognition, hand-eye coordination, and quick decision making
  • Role Playing: Problem recognition and solving, communication, decision making, time management, and organization
  • Simulation: Creativity, problem-solving, decision making, and organization
  • Sports: Fast reasoning, objective focused, hand-eye coordination, and performing under pressure
  • Strategy: Logical thinking, problem recognition and solving, organization, and time management
  • Survival: Creativity, problem-solving, organization, fast reasoning, and quick decision making

As you can see, many skills cross into multiple game genres. This is why one person may enjoy several different game genres.

2. What Gaming Hardware Do You Have Available?

Not all games are available on all platforms. Some games are only available for PC via download on services like Steam. Others are only available on gaming consoles or mobile devices. Still, others are only available for specific brands of consoles.

First, you need to choose what game genres are perfect for you based on your skills. Once you have, then determine what gaming hardware you have available in your house. Finally, search for games using online services tailored for that gaming platform.

The following are some good resources to start your search.

  • Mobile devices: Google Play Games and iTunes Games. (You can also download games for Chromebook on Google Play).
  • Playstation console: Playstation Games,Playstation Live, and any game stores
  • Xbox Console: Xbox Games, Microsoft Xbox Live, and any game stores
  • Windows, Mac & Linux: Microsoft Store, Steam, itch.io, and Humble

You can also buy games for any of the platforms listed above on Amazon.

All of the sites listed above let you browse for games to play based on genre or even tags. This can help you focus your search into just the genres that you know you’ll enjoy.

3. Where Do You Prefer to Relax?

Just because you have a Playstation available for gaming doesn’t mean you have to use it for your gaming experience. Some people can’t feel relaxed sitting in front of a large TV screen holding a gaming controller.

Consider where in your house, or even an internet cafe or library, where you like to relax. That’s the kind of environment where you should focus your gameplay. The environment where your game is just as important as what genre you choose.

  • TV Gaming: If you like the idea of limiting your game playing to when you’re home and sitting in front of the TV, then console gaming is for you. This means using an Xbox or a Playstation if you have one available. You’ll also need to feel comfortable using a game controller.
  • Office Gaming: If you prefer the comfort of your desk and using a keyboard and mouse for the game controls, then PC gaming is for you. Search for games based on the computer platform you use, whether that’s Mac, Windows, or Linux.
  • Gaming Outside the Home: If you don’t have time to sit for long periods of time at home, you might prefer mobile gaming. Playing games on your mobile device let you game whenever you’re in a waiting room or riding the subway. It’s a great way to pass the time when you’d otherwise be bored anyway.

4. What Is Your Gaming Budget?

Now that you know the right genre for you, the gaming platform you want to use, and where you want to play, the final decision to make is cost. How much do you want to spend on gaming?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average household in 2018 spent roughly $3,000 a year on entertainment. This might include going to the movie theater, buying and streaming movies on Amazon or YouTube, and more. This means that gaming doesn’t really have to cost you any extra.

In fact, you could download a game off Steam tonight for roughly the same price you’d pay for a couple of Amazon movies. And a game download will offer many more hours of enjoyment.

So, now that you know what genre of game is right for you, why not start browsing for your next game? You may be surprised just how much you actually love gaming after all.

Gaming is an activity that anyone can enjoy. But when it comes down to choosing a game, most people get stuck at the question, what game should I play?