Anand KrishnaswamyJul 29, 2020 21:52:54 IST
The world of gaming is driven by split second reactions and the difference between success and failure is often just micro-seconds. This leads to serious players looking at how to gain every advantage possible compared to their rivals.
There are a few main methods of doing so, this comes in the form of better computers, screens, keyboards, mouse, gamepads/controllers, mobiles (mobile gaming is actually very serious), specialised headphones, better internet connections and yes even furniture makes a difference.
Although it could be argued that hardware is not the only option and there are methods such as training to improve reaction times as well as focus. These are a lot harder, in the past players have even resorted to doping to raise their performance. The main method of achieving results in this area that is legal is a very controlled and disciplined lifestyle with a huge emphasis on being healthy.
There is also the dirty and disgusting option of cheating. This includes things like adding special functions into the hardware to make it do tricks that otherwise require extreme skill. Even the old school hacking of the game engine to game vision of key areas has been seen. There is also the most common method of resorting to assistance from additional software such as Aimbots (a software assistant that handles the task of aiming for the cheating player. Think of it like an F1 driver racing in a self-driving race car). Any gamer, whether professional or not, caught using such tricks is punished heavily often to the point of being forced to leave the community.
The options outside the upgrading of equipment is just training or cheating if one is to look at it objectively. Gamers today have the mindset of athletes; in professional sports it is considered normal for a player to use proper equipment, even schools now expect students to wear specialised shoes and clothes for the sport of choice. Given this, why should a gamer be any different?
The advantages offered through the equipment upgrades should be looked at individually based on each type and how it helps the player. Just like with sports, the cost of this equipment becomes higher the more specialised it gets.
The first and most common upgrade made by gamers is into a better gaming system. Most commonly this behaviour is seen in PC and in mobile gamers. Console gamers don’t always have an option to upgrade their consoles. Having a better gaming system is imperative for a variety of reasons, the first and foremost is that although most games can be played on either a budget segment laptop or a budget mobile phone, it rarely ever can be played at the higher settings. Budget devices reduce their costs compared to high-end devices by downgrading key components such as processors, graphic cards, and the ram. These components are the most advertised part of any device and have most direct impact on the performance. A mobile or a computer that is top of the line in these aspects allows players to play their game at very high frame rates and this in turn lets them see information on the screen that normal players are not always privy too (assuming their dynamic vision is fast enough to catch the little details).
In some budget devices, components such as the cooling system and the motherboard are also swapped out for cheaper and lower performance options. This hurts the build quality of said system and often leads to unexplained issues related to heating or lagging that would not happen if these components were of a higher grade. If any gamer is subjected to unexpected lag or heating issues while playing, they show an uncanny tendency to snap at those around them.
Beyond the main system comes smaller components such as the screen, specialised keyboards, mouse, gamepads/controllers, and headphones. When it comes to the screen for gamers, refresh rate is extremely important. Professional gamers always use screens which support refresh rates of 120 Hertz or better. This is because even if they were to have a system capable of offering them more frames per second the screen is finally their window to see these frames. If the screen is unable to keep up with the rest of the system, there is no value to the upgrades. Increased sizes of screen also play a role as a bigger screen allows for certain details to be seen more clearly.
Specialised keyboards, mouse, gamepads/controllers and headphones are in some ways the same as when sportsmen chose to wear certain shoes or gear. The equipment is made keeping in mind the comfort of a gamer. PC gamers use specialised keyboards as well as a specialised gaming mouse as these are made to reduce the time taken for their commands to be registered into the main system compared to a standard mouse or keyboard. Some even include a customised layout of buttons that can be programmed to suite the tastes of the player.
In the case of gamepads/controllers, some games have the need for a special kind of controller to be used. This would include games such as Guitar Hero, or even some racing games use a set of controllers based on car steering wheels with pedals. In the past many players would buy a controller that featured something often referred to as a turbo button. The turbo button when pressed would turn every press of the gamers into a series of button presses that surpassed human reaction speeds. As of today, all controllers with this feature are banned in the professional circuit, players caught using such a controller face strict penalties or even disqualification. Despite this there are still aftermarket controllers available to buy for the casual player with this feature built into it.
Gaming headphones are made keeping in mind that many players rely on hearing in-game sounds to keep a track of the game along with the visuals. This along with the fact that in team-based games, communication is particularly important, the players can save a lot of time typing if they have a headphone with inbuilt mic that offers clear voice during communication. These headphones are equalised to be most effective when gaming.
Looking at internet connection options is very important for gamers. Standard internet connections used by the regular person offers far higher ping as well the chance of packet loss when compared to a leased line. Even fibre optics is unable to bridge this gap and as such many gamers invest into a leased line connection. For those who may be unaware, ping affects the rate at which the game data is transferred between the players computer and the host server for the game. The lower the ping the faster these updates take place. High ping hurts a player’s ability to react instantaneously to actions from their rivals.
The last but equally important factor to consider is the choice of furniture. Gamers often sit and play for long durations. Many games require the players to be seated for up to and hour without a break. This makes the ergonomics of the seat especially important. Even when seated the body undergoes a certain amount of stress to maintain a certain posture and position.
Better seats provide support to the body and reduce this stress. Maintaining a better seating posture also reduces risks of lifestyle injuries that gamers may otherwise be subjected to. Issues of these lifestyle injuries include backpain from poor seating posture as well the dreaded carpal tunnel syndrome. Carpal tunnel syndrome is especially scary to the professionals as it can result in permanent damage to the nerves in their hands, which results in them being unable to play at their best even post recovery.
Seating is very need-oriented for gamers and as such sometimes even a chair made for a non-gamer is appropriate for gaming. To take an example of this one needs to look at the fact that for many gamers a well-made office chair is the most appropriate choice of seating as it is made for sitting on for extended durations.
The standard gaming chair is made for PC gamers and is based on an office chair but includes styling which is more to the taste of gamers. For people who play on a console or on a mobile they may prefer more specialised options from chairs made for console gamers or even gaming chairs based on beanbags. The beanbag chairs allow for most options on posture and as such are preferred by some. Certain games where the controllers are highly specialised such as racing games have chairs that are specifically built so that these controllers can be paired up with them. These chairs are very need specific and hence highly varied for each game.
Given the massive advantages and health benefits offered by specialised equipment it is a necessity for not just professionals but even aspiring or regular gamers to invest in several of these options.
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