In the world of competitive gaming, the speed of your reflexes can often turn the tide of battle. For example, if you spot an enemy and react within a fraction of a second, you could retrieve your main character to safety or resort to other measures to secure your victory (or at least prevent a defeat). While human reflexes tend to lose some of their sharpness with aging, there is another thing you can do to get an edge; simple buy better gear that’s of higher quality and more responsive.
Monitors and display latency
Display latency (also referred to as display lag) plays a crucial role in how soon you’ll be able to spot and react to an enemy. This is measured in milliseconds; while 20ms of lag is considered acceptable by the modern standards, anything beyond 30ms means your gear is putting you at a disadvantage.
Now, your immediate reaction might be to get the largest monitor with the highest price tag to combat this. Well, it’s not quite so simple – as a matter of fact, the larger monitors are known to hinder you while playing, simply because there is a larger area to scan. So unless the game you’re playing rewards players who have a larger monitor, there’s no reason to get one.
Additionally, 4K monitors are not the answer either. On the contrary – 4K can add to display latency. If you absolutely want to get one of these, make sure they include a game mode which reduces the problem. Instead, you should purchase a gaming monitor with a high refresh rate (240Hz is a good number to shoot for). A lot of gamers prefer highly-saturated colours, so the action on the screen can be easily distinguished.
Your keyboard is where you issue commands from
As such, what you choose as the keyboard you’re going to be using for playing video games is directly correlated with your in-game performance. Cheaper keyboards usually don’t have responsive keys, and this is what’s causing you to lose valuable time when it comes to responding to enemy threats because your fingers won’t be able to issue commands quickly enough.
That’s one of the main arguments why the gaming community is so fond of mechanical keyboards. Not only are they the most responsive, but also more pleasant to the touch. Depending on your preferences, you can get louder or quieter ones.
The reason why these perform better in comparison is that the manufacturing companies often use custom-developed switches allowing for more accurate control and sharper response.
Some video games were designed with the controller in mind
Mostly associated with consoles, some video games allow for a much better experience when played on a controller or joypad. While you can certainly purchase custom-made controllers made for consoles, bear in mind this is usually the norm for the PC gaming crowd, where you’re unlikely to run out of options any time soon.
Of course, whether you should be using a controller or not depends on the genre of games you’re playing, and in some genres, it’s completely a matter of personal preference. For example, the group of competitive arcade fighting gamers mostly prefers to play on an arcade joystick, the imitation of a tried and true arcade cabinet which these types of games were originally developed for.
Simply put, an arcade joystick was designed to allow you to perform the most technically-demanding motions that are often hard to replicate on a regular controller. On the flipside, they take a bit of time to get properly adjusted to, but once you get the ball rolling, it’s hard to even consider ever going back to other types of controllers.
The fans of platformers, on the other hand, are mostly in favour of using a joypad, and it’s easy to see why; it’s easy on the wrist, allows you to access the most important controls in a fraction of a second, and is quite ergonomic as well. While there are some old school platform gamers who prefer using a keyboard, these are rather modest in numbers.
Still, keyboards are pretty much a must when it comes to certain genres like real-time strategies (RTS). The accessibility of all the buttons makes it incredibly easy to issue commands and micro-manage your units and is the most time-efficient way to put the strategy straight from your head and into action.
Don’t forget the headsets
How you respond to subtle clues can very well mean the difference between winning or losing the game, and the sound is no exception. In comparison to regular TV or monitor speakers, a good quality headset will not only let you determine the intensity of the sound but the direction from which it’s coming from as well. To name modern first-person shooters (FPS) genre as an example, this comes quite in handy when being able to react to someone sneaking up behind your back and going for the kill the stealthy way.
If you’re in the market for a new headset, consider getting one with a mic attachment. That way, communicating with your teammates through one of the voice chat software solutions will be a breeze, and you’ll be able to overcome the enemy forces through teamwork. No matter how good you are, you need a strategy, as mindlessly running around and shooting things can only get you so far.
The most dedicated of gamers among you also need to consider another important factor – how comfortable the headset is to wear. Also, no matter how careful you are, you’ll likely be banging these into the table quite often. If they’re made of the cheapest plastic, it’s only a matter of time before something falls apart or breaks. Just stay with the name brands, and you should be fine no matter what you end up picking.
Can video game reactions be improved with practice?
There’s one important thing to keep in mind; while buying better gear will certainly improve your reaction times (and thus make you better at video games), all of this won’t really amount to anything without a sufficient amount of practice.
We, humans, are biologically limited in terms of how far we can get our reflexes with sheer practice. With discipline and dedication, however, improvement is possible, and it’s not to be underestimated. One of the easiest ways to get better at it is to keep playing the game as much as possible.
Another way to ensure the best possible reaction times is to make sure your hands are warm before starting to play. If you live in a colder climate, you won’t believe how much of a difference this can make. But no matter where you live, just hold them under warm water for a couple of minutes or pour some hot water into a bowl instead.
Also, reaction times improve with anticipation and focus. Another way of saying this is looking at the screen and making an educated guess regarding what’s going to happen next. How will you react to it? What’s the correct response to the opponent’s most effective strategy? Having all of it prepared in your mind will make you able to react in mere moments when the time comes, and all of this will make you a better gamer in general.
Finally, we have dedicated apps for improving your reaction times. A simple Google search will reveal more than you’ll know what to do with, and each single one of them is bound to make you a better gamer in one way or another.
In the end, it’s all about customization
Bearing all of this in mind, getting better gear is only one part of the overall equation, despite being quite an important one indeed. You’re still going to have to piece together the kind of gear that will make you happy, improve your results, and the kind that you’re comfortable with.
Then, of course, there is the necessity to upgrade your hardware. A slow PC, as it goes without saying, can lead to performance reductions, and even if it’s just an occasional slowdown here and there, who’s to say that it’s not going to happen during a time that is the most crucial for determining your victory in battle?
Having a custom-built PC is what many power gamers eventually opt for. You can click here to learn more about it, but in essence, building or having someone build your custom PC is the quickest path to results. That way, you’ll have a high-end machine that’s custom tailored to your specs and the one you’ll be using for playing your favourite titles. If you make sure to invest a little bit of something into it, it’ll pay back dividends as far as improving your gaming skills goes.
To answer the initial question, yes, buying better gear will certainly make you a better gamer in general. But this only applies when you’ve made sure that you’ve invested a considerable amount of time to honing your skills and training your reflexes to the very maximum. In essence, the combination of these two factors will take your gaming skills to new heights.