No matter what level you are playing at, you can always be a better gamer. Whether you’re a seasoned veteran or a complete newbie, there’s room for improvement. Games are becoming more advanced with more and more users are logging on, meaning it is harder than ever to get the top spot in the rankings. But with enough practice and the right strategies, you can turn your casual hobby into a masterclass of gaming prowess.
There are plenty of reasons to want to improve your abilities. Playing video games is not just a time-wasting pastime, as many non-gamers would have you believe. A good many people have made hugely lucrative careers from gaming. With the right skills, you could earn a living playing competitively in tournaments, live streaming to fans, or as a game reviewer or developer. With 2.5 billion players worldwide, it’s a huge industry, and it is expected to surpass $180 billion in revenue by the end of 2021. And with this rapid growth, we can only hope to see more jobs, more players, more companies, and more opportunities for hardcore gamers to prove their worth.
As well as the professional and financial opportunities, being a skilled gamer can improve your brain in several ways. In the same way that a piece of gym equipment works and trains your muscles, a challenging video game stimulates your brain and improves its ability to function. Here are a few of the cognitive benefits you can enjoy:
- Coordination: Many games, particularly first-person shooters, require exact movements that test your hand-eye coordination. Regular practice at these games will improve your spatial awareness as well as your ability to react to and understand visual stimuli.
- Memory: Whatever type of games you play, you have to remember a lot of different information. There are various controls, characters, special moves, plot lines, and items involved in any game, and it is a significant test of your recollection skills to stay focused on what’s going on. After an extended period of immersion in a game, you will know it all by heart and your memory will be packed with information.
- Problem-solving: A video game is essentially a complicated puzzle. You have an objective, usually to either complete the game, beat your competitors, or get a high score, and you have to overcome various challenges and obstacles in order to succeed. Being constantly subjected to these problems and finding new ways to solve them keeps your brain sharp in the same way that repeated maths and logic exercises would.
- Social skills: If you play online or in cooperative mode with another player, you will spend a lot of time coordinating your efforts to complete objectives, giving and receiving orders, and discussing the best approach. No matter how quick-fingered you are, it is always the teams with the best communication and teamwork that win. Gamers often develop strong friendships with other online players, so it is just as effective a social activity as any other team-based hobby you can think of.
- Multitasking: When playing a game, you have to be constantly on the lookout for all kinds of stimuli and react quickly, often engaged in multiple tasks at once. Playing video games forces you to be observant while directing your focus in several different directions.
- Creativity: There is a long-held debate about whether video games qualify as art. But any gamer who has played epic games like Skyrim and Red Dead Redemption, or visually stunning releases such as Limbo and Journey, knows how absurd this argument is. A game is an incredibly effective medium of storytelling, with opportunities for memorable characters, emotional storylines, and stunning visuals. A quality video game is just as valid a piece of creative art as a classic work of literature or an Oscar-winning movie.
So being good at video games can lead to professional opportunities and improve your cognitive abilities, but it is also beneficial in and of itself. Striving for greatness gives you a sense of purpose beyond mere enjoyment. You are trying to better yourself and become an expert at something that brings you joy. Setting yourself a meaningful goal and working hard to achieve it can bring you a great deal of satisfaction.
But how does one get better? Here are ten pieces of crucial advice to help you become an expert gamer.
Becoming a master gamer takes time and a great deal of practice. Set your expectations before you begin and don’t expect drastic changes to happen right away. It is a slow, gradual process that requires hard work and commitment. Don’t be disheartened if you have a bad day or your scores start to slip. Just try to pinpoint where you are going wrong and work at it.
Make more time to play
As with any skill, the more time you spend on it, the better you will become. Malcolm Gladwell claims in his critically acclaimed book Outliers that you need 10,000 hours of practice to become an expert in any given field. You won’t reach your peak performance without putting in the hours. Do whatever you can to squeeze more time out of your day. Wake up earlier and cut out unnecessary activities such as browsing social media and watching TV. Be more efficient with completing household chores and admin and use this extra time to practice.
Learn from the best
Sometimes you will watch a professional gamer play and be blown away by how good they are. But it’s important to remember that they were once a novice too, and had to work hard to get to where they are today. There’s a lot you can learn from the experts. Try to play with people who are better than you, as you will learn their tactics, and your reactions and critical-thinking will improve quicker from being constantly tested. Watch live streaming and game replays from the pros and pay attention to how they play.
Analyze your gameplay
Most games now let you record your gameplay or watch in-game highlights, so it’s easier than ever to analyze your performance. Rewatch your gameplay and pinpoint what you are doing well and any areas in which you need to improve. When you are in the heat of the moment, your mind is too occupied with the game to think rationally about what you’re doing. By watching it back immediately afterward, you’ll be in a better position to spot common mistakes and traps you fall into.
Mentor a novice player
The best way to improve your ability in any area is to teach a complete amateur. Training a novice to play video games well requires you to recall information and articulate strategies and techniques. It will help you cast a more critical eye over your gaming as well as letting you benefit from a fresh pair of eyes watching you at work. Being asked questions by a curious newbie will constantly test your knowledge and keep your mind sharp. Find a friend, family member, or stranger online with whom to share your wisdom.
Invest in the right gear
You don’t need to break the bank to become a good gamer, but you will need to invest in some quality equipment. Here are a few of the most crucial aspects of your gaming setup.
- Quality sound and video: You don’t have to have a top of the range monitor and home theatre system but you will need a good quality setup to see and hear your game clearly. Headphones are a great way to improve your in-game hearing.
- A sensitive mouse or controller: You need your controller to be 100% attuned to the movement of your hand and fingers. Even the slightest lack of sensitivity will slow your reaction times and hinder your performance.
- A stable internet connection: There’s nothing more damaging to your online performance than laggy wi-fi. Prevent unnecessary issues by establishing a solid connection.
To help you choose your hardware, visit PC Gaming Corner for product reviews and advice on selecting the best gaming equipment.
Create a comfortable gaming environment
You may be sitting and playing for long periods at a time. You’ll need to make sure you are comfortable so you can last longer. You want a reliable gaming chair that helps you maintain good posture and reduces back strain. Make sure your room is well-lit and set to the right temperature.
Play in tournaments
Signing up for tournaments is a fantastic motivator to make you work hard to improve your skills. You’ll be playing against some of the best players, so not only will you sharpen your abilities, but you’ll also have an opportunity to learn from the pros.
Don’t neglect your health
As with any skill, you will need to be in good physical and mental health to perform optimally. Even though gaming may take up a lot of your time, that doesn’t mean your health should suffer. Ensure you eat a healthy, balanced diet and drink lots of water to give your body what it needs. Take time each day to engage in some physical exercise, and work on reducing stress and anxiety from your life. Get plenty of sleep and don’t stay up too late.
Spending too much time playing can lead to burnout, and you will become less effective at playing as a result. It’s important you take regular breaks to give your mind a rest and allow your brain to process crucial information and recharge itself.