Bowser gaming with his kid, bonding with his child as a parent gamer.

3 Ways to Become Better at Gaming that Don’t Involve Practice

Whether you love to channel your inner Steph Curry on NBA 2K20, get your Peter Parker fix in Marvel’s Spider-Man or enjoy the thrill of Call of Duty, Super Smash Bros. or Red Dead Redemption 2, there is no shortage of video games from which to choose.

No matter which games you prefer, you definitely want to do your best. You consider yourself a pretty hardcore gamer, and are always looking to improve your score, your accuracy and your overall gameplay.

Sonic and Knuckles playing video games as adult gamers.

Here’s some great news—you can definitely get better at gaming. What’s even better is that none of the following tips will suggest getting in more practice:

1. Check Your Latency to Improve Lag

Nothing will drive a gamer crazy faster than lag time during a game, especially when you have to be super accurate and have impeccable timing to get through a level. If you are experiencing lag, try conducting a latency test on your system. Start by running a ping test to determine your latency baseline. Next, instead of Wi-Fi, use an Ethernet cable. By having a direct connection to your router, the Ethernet cable should help increase the speedy that your gaming system “communicates” with your network. Also, make sure that you opt for manual updates for your system—unbeknownst to you, your system may be using up tons of bandwidth as you play to make needed updates.

2. Make Sure Your Settings are Correct for the Game

Another way to improve your gaming is to ensure that the game’s settings are optimized correctly and paying extra attention to the joystick or mouse. In general, if you are playing a game that requires you to have a really accurate aim, then a lower sensitivity setting is best as it will allow you to make small adjustments.

On the other end of the spectrum, if you are doing a lot of traveling around through various scenes and expect the enemy to jump out at you, go for a higher sensitivity so you can face them more quickly.

3. Set “S.M.A.R.T.” Goals

Just as setting goals can help you in other areas of life, the same is true for gaming. Focus on improving one specific mechanic of the game at a time, using what they call the “S.M.A.R.T.” rule, which stands for Simple, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-Bound. Rather than a complex goal, go for one that is easy to understand and focus on one thing at a time. Examples of measurable goals include improving a score or time to a certain level, and an achievable goal means you want to do something that is within the realm of the game. 

Abe, a green creature, giving two thumbs up

A realistic goal is one that is something you can reasonably hope to achieve—if you are brand new at a game, striving to reach 300,000 points in one session may not be within your reach and may ultimately discourage you. Instead, opt for trying to get to 10,000 points and then, once you reach this goal, go for a higher amount. And a time-bound goal is one that you try to finish within a reasonable time frame. For instance, decide that you will strive to meet your goal within 10 days or two weeks; this way, you will stay motivated.

Try These Tips and Watch Your Gaming Improve

While there is a time and place for practicing, it is not the only way to become better at gaming. By checking your latency to get rid of as much lag time as possible, experimenting with your settings to be sure your equipment is working as efficiently as it should for each game, and setting goals to keep you on track, you can improve your gaming.