See also: Mission Statement

SixDegreeSteam (SDS) is a project conceptualized on September 7, 2009 by Blake "ROOT" Ballard with the purpose of exploring the relationships between members of the Steam community.

The concept began as a question; "What is my [ROOT's] relationship to the Valve developers?" Later, the question was expanded on to include every Steam user's relationship to everyone else. So, the purpose of SDS was expressed as a means to find how many friends one user would have to go through before reaching another. If this sounds familiar, it's because the idea has been used before. The Small World Phenomenon and Six Degrees of Separation model depict a very interesting property of social interaction. The first states that every person in the world is linked to every other person in the world through a finite amount of relationships. The second refines that to six or fewer relationships. These theories were the basis for the popular games Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, Six Degrees of Wikipedia, and even a Facebook application. In fact, Six Degrees of Wikipedia was the inspiration for SDS, and Six Degrees of Separation is where the project gets its name.

However, there are two differences between the Six Degrees of Separation model and SDS. First, The current model does not take into consideration groups of people by which social interaction is possible but not achieved. For example, an employee of a business theoretically has social access to every other employee, but rarely would every employee interact with everyone else. SDS generates relationship webs containing not only friends, or those people the user has naturally interacted with at least once, but also all possible relationships through group memberships. Second, Six Degrees of Separation observed six or fewer steps were required to reach every other person. ROOT estimated ten or less steps, and that it should be expected for some users to be isolated from the rest of the community, thereby disallowing the link to every other user.

SixDegreeSteam sets out to find the actual maximum steps between users, beit six, ten, or otherwise. Until the dataset is completed, an accurate depiction is nearly impossible.