Gaming is one of the most popular hobbies in the world right now. Current estimates suggest that there are well over 2.4 billion gamers around the globe, and while the definition of “gamer” is fluid depending on who’s using it, that’s still a very impressive figure for the industry. Whether you’re a new gamer or you’ve been gaming for several years, there are lots of things you need to remember about the hobby to help keep it enjoyable for yourself and safe for everyone. Here are 9 things you need to remember to do if you’re a regular gamer.
1. Clean your consoles or your PC
We can’t stress this enough, but it’s very, very important to keep your consoles or your PC (or both) clean. The number of horror stories gamers have told us – or that we’ve seen ourselves – involving poorly-maintained hardware would make the hairs on your neck stand up. If you don’t clean your gaming machines, dust will quickly build up and disrupt their operation. This could mean incredibly loud and whiny fans at the best of times and outright component failure at worst. No console is immune!
As this great Betway infographic demonstrates, PlayStation and Xbox consoles are both very susceptible to dirt and bacteria. Make sure you perform regular maintenance!
2. Take regular breaks
We know it sounds like helicopter gaming (so to speak), but the importance of taking regular breaks from gaming really can’t be overstated. How many of us actually take breaks when games tell us to? Shockingly few, but the benefits of taking regular breaks are well-documented. You’ll focus better, have a clearer head, and make better decisions if you take regular breaks, and this is doubly important if you’re an esports player or you play a lot of competitive games. Roughly every 50-90 minutes is a good interval for taking breaks while gaming.
3. Realise you can’t play every game
Every gamer has the dreaded backlog that they want to clear. Nowhere is this more prevalent than in PC gaming, where everybody will be intimately familiar with the ever-growing Steam backlog. It’s important to realise that if you’re going to make gaming your main hobby, you simply don’t have time to play every single release, especially not if you’re also balancing other life responsibilities like a full-time job or a family. Choose the games you most want to play and enjoy your time with those rather than hopping from game to game in a rushed fashion.
4. Don’t overspend
Unless you have money to burn, there’s no reason to overspend on gaming. A good-quality gaming PC can be had for surprisingly little, and the recently-released next-gen consoles are also a great value proposition (if you can find them, of course). Given the situation with console availability right now, you might be tempted to buy from a scalper or somewhere that’s artificially inflated the price of your preferred console. Don’t do that. It’s encouraging the practice in the future, and if you just wait a little while, the price and availability will improve.
5. Stop pre-ordering games
Publishers thrive on the idea of FOMO, or fear of missing out. A new game has just come out and you’re eager to play it. That’s the mentality publishers prey on for inflated game prices and pre-order bonuses that don’t really impact the game at all. Don’t fall for it. You don’t need to play every game that comes out on the exact day or even month that it arrives. Often, you’ll find game prices drop drastically after the first month or two on release, so if you want to be a savvy gaming consumer, stop pre-ordering games and don’t buy them on day one if you don’t want to.
6. Strengthen your passwords
The gaming industry has had several data breaches in the last year or two, proving that many companies’ servers and data centres aren’t as safe as they claim them to be. For that reason, you need to make sure that your password strength is as good as it can possibly be. Services like LastPass will automatically generate strong passwords per website for you, or you can use websites that do the same thing. Just don’t make it anything that hackers could conceivably guess or brute-force, because if you do, you may end up having your data stolen.
7. Give up on brand loyalty
As a gamer, one of the worst things you can do is engage in brand loyalty. By doing so, you’re effectively pledging allegiance to a brand that doesn’t really care about you as an individual. If Sony doesn’t look like a strong contender for you this generation, you don’t have to buy a PS5, and if you don’t like the look of Microsoft’s consoles, you can switch. Alternatively, you can buy both. Just make sure that the decisions you’re making are savvy ones, because in the end, brand loyalty is an anti-consumer practice that only harms you and benefits corporations.
8. Buy new where you can
Of course, everyone goes through financial tough times, gamers included. However, you should always aim to buy games new if possible. The pre-owned market can be a godsend for anyone struggling with money to buy games – after all, pre-owned games tend to be cheaper – but you’re not putting any money in the pockets of the developers or publishers that way. If you love a game and you want the creators to make more, then it’s a good idea to show that support by buying new. We totally understand this isn’t always possible, but when it is, take that route.
9. Never, ever be ashamed
No matter what your age, identity, or job, gaming is and always should be a wonderfully inclusive hobby. Never let anybody tell you that you’re too old to play games or that any other aspect of your identity is inappropriate for gaming, and don’t listen to the bullies or trolls who say that you’re not a “real” gamer for one reason or another. Gaming means something different to everyone, and it’s intensely personal, so whatever gaming means to you, hold on to that and let it be your shield whenever someone decides to argue with you about it.