Gaming is now a much more diverse and accessible hobby than it was ten years ago. Contrary to popular belief, you do not need to prove your skills or join a clique to call yourself a gamer. There is a game for everyone, just like there is a book or a film.
Part 1 Finding Games You Enjoy
1. Choose a platform on which to play games. When you’re just getting started, it’s best to stick with what you have. Buying a console or upgrading your computer is a big investment, so it’s best to gain some experience first so you know how to make the best decision. If possible, play some games on a friend’s platform before making your own decision.
A computer (PC) can play a wide range of games, but playing the latest and greatest necessitates costly hardware upgrades. Desktops are far superior to laptops for gaming.
If you don’t already have a computer, a console (typically an Xbox, PlayStation, Wii/Wii U, or Nintendo Switch) is a cheaper option that requires no technical knowledge to use. You’ll have a much smaller selection of games, and if you want to play new games, you’ll have to buy the next generation console every few years.
If you don’t have any of the above, you can play on a smart phone, tablet, or portable gaming device, or you can play the real-world games described at the bottom of this section.
2. Understand how to locate games. Many recommended games are listed below, organised by the type of person they appeal to. Even if you’re not a gamer yet, you probably already have a good idea of what kind of experience you like, so skim through and start with the recommendation that sounds the most appealing to you. A quick online search will frequently direct you to the developer’s website, where you can download or order the game and learn which devices it is compatible with. If you’re unsure whether to purchase it, look for a demo or a YouTube playthrough to learn more.
Download the free Steam software to play computer games. This is a very popular place to buy games, and the ongoing discounts and community discussions are a great way to find new recommendations.
The majority of the recommendations below were released in the last few years and may still be available at physical game stores.
3. Look through the casual games. These are great for passing the time or distracting yourself from stress, and they are usually simple to learn.  People who consider themselves “real gamers” often disparage and insult this category. That attitude, however, is becoming less common. If you’ve never played a game all the way through before, or if you’re not sure what appeals to you, look in the following places:
Try a mobile app store or a large game collection website like Kongregate or Armor Games for a wide range of options.
Most Nintendo games, such as Mario Kart, Wii Sports, and Mario Party, are designed to be fun and enjoyable with friends.
4. Experiment with games that require quick reflexes and precision. There are many game genres you might enjoy if you enjoy fast finger movements and fast-paced challenges:
Platformers require you to navigate a maze of blocks and enemies. Play Super Mario, Super Meat Boy, or Ratchet & Clank to add storey and fighting to your gaming experience.
Try a rhythm game like Dance Dance Revolution or its keyboard version Step Mania, or a shoot ’em up (“shmup”) like Ikaruga or Radiant Silvergun for pure, fast-paced finger-tapping.
Every year, sports games are re-released so that you can play as famous athletes. Choose your favourite sport, and you’ll almost certainly find a video game version, such as Madden or FIFA.
Fighting games, such as Super Smash Bros. and Guilty Gear, are competitive games that emphasise reflexes and muscle memory.
5. Investigate sandbox games. These games, like a real sandbox, provide you with tools to create your own fun or even your own world. These could be for you if you’re good at setting your own goals and getting sucked into your own project.
By far the most popular of these games is Minecraft. Spore is a good option if you want something with less blocky graphics.
Sandbox games aren’t always “casual.” Dwarf Fortress has driven away thousands of “hardcore gamers” due to its incredibly complex world, which is entirely displayed in text.
6. Play for the sake of excitement. Prepare for an adrenaline rush by dimming the lights. These games are for those who want to have the most fun:
If you enjoy action or adventure stories, take on the role of the hero in games like Prince of Persia, Assassin’s Creed, or the well-known (and family-friendly) Legend of Zelda.
If you like horror movies, see what it’s like to be in one with Silent Hill or Resident Evil.
Pick up Saint’s Row or Grand Theft Auto and go on a ridiculous crime spree when you just need to let it all out.
7. Play a role-playing game that immerses you. Games have the ability to immerse you in a storey in a way that no other art form can. Although the genre is extremely broad, role-playing games (RPGs) are a popular example. Here are a few well-known examples, each of which can provide dozens of hours of entertainment:
Dragon Age, Mass Effect, and Final Fantasy are some of the most well-known RPG series that emphasise storey and player choice.
The Bioshock and Dark Souls series showcase unusual, strange settings, whereas the Elder Scrolls series offers an enormous, classic fantasy world to explore.
Planescape: Torment and every Spiderweb Software game are examples of games with incredibly detailed stories on the extreme end of the scale.
8. Play multiplayer games that are competitive. Many games allow you to play competitively, but some are solely dedicated to putting your skills to the test. The following genres are so complex that many gamers choose one and play it almost exclusively for dozens or hundreds of hours to improve:
FPS games are best known for their online multiplayer modes, in which players compete as opposing soldiers fighting in a complex environment. Call of Duty and Battlefield are excellent entry points into the genre.
MOBAs (multi-player online battle arenas) are team-versus-team games with a fantasy theme. In comparison to FPS games, overall strategy is more important, while short-term reflexes and tactics are less so. Defense of the Ancients (DoTA) and League of Legends are two games to try (LoL).
Real-time strategy games (RTS) involve clashing civilizations, constructing cities and armies, and going to war with your opponents. The Starcraft series emphasises quick decision-making, whereas the Total War series emphasises long-term strategy and meticulous tactical planning.
Massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs or MMOs) require you to compete against hundreds of other players. You’ve probably heard of World of Warcraft, but there’s also Star Wars: The Old Republic and Guild Wars 2.
9. Play without the use of a computer or a console. Not every gamer enjoys playing video games. While most mass-market board games fail to gain a following among gamers, there are a few exceptions. Some even have major tournaments with cash prizes:
Famous, deeply strategic board games like Settlers of Catan or Dominion are simple enough to learn but can take hundreds of hours to master.
Tabletop role-playing games like Dungeons and Dragons and Pathfinder allow you to tell a storey with your friends.
Collectible card games (CCGs or TCGs) like Magic: the Gathering or Yu-Gi-Oh! allow you to combine hundreds of pieces to play the game style you prefer.
These are typically more expensive than other gaming hobbies, but your local game store may host low-cost events for newcomers.
Part 2 Understanding Gamer Culture
1. Expect strong feelings. Most self-identified gamers have strong feelings about their favourite games and are willing to debate them for hours. This passion can sometimes lead to “gate-keeping” from a fan who suspects you aren’t a “real” gamer. This can be exhausting, but it will become less frequent as you make gaming friends and they see you playing and talking about games.
2. Demonstrate good sportsmanship. You may not always receive it, but mature players will respect you for keeping the atmosphere positive. When you finish a game against a stranger, say “good game” or “gg,” and offer a handshake if you’re playing in person. If you’re playing a team game, don’t criticise a player who isn’t performing well unless he’s actively sabotaging your efforts.
Light-hearted boasting and insults are usually expected against friends, rather than handshakes and formality. If anyone becomes enraged, take a break to allow him to calm down.
3. Deal with inappropriate behaviour. Many communities have become more diverse and welcoming as gaming has become more mainstream, but there has also been backlash from sexists and people who consider themselves “true gamers.” Light sarcasm and mockery should be ignored, but actual harassment or bullying should be reported to a moderator (mod) or administrator. If you speak up, you’ll often find people willing to stand up for a new player. If no one does, don’t be afraid to look for another forum, guild, or even a new game with a better culture.
Most games have a block or ignore feature that prevents other players from contacting you.
4. Learn some slang. Each genre, and even each game, develops its own lingua franca, which can be perplexing to a newcomer. There are a few terms that are used to varying degrees throughout gaming, so use this list as a starting point.
A newbie is a player who has only recently begun playing the game. “Noob” is an obnoxious synonym.
Afk stands for “away from keyboard” and indicates that the player is taking a break.
gg is a polite way of saying “good game” after a game.
1337, l33t, and leet are all abbreviations for “elite” or “highly skilled.” This is old school slang that is now frequently used in sarcastic or self-deprecating jokes.
When someone is pwned, it means they have been humiliated by their opponent.
Part 3 Improving Your Gaming Skills
1. Compete against strong opponents. Even a fun night of gaming with friends will sharpen your skills, but putting in concentrated effort to improve your weak points will result in faster progress. If your pride allows it, playing against people who are better than you is the best way to learn. Keep an eye on what they do and inquire about the reasoning behind their decisions if you don’t understand.
2. Enhance your reaction time. Playing your favourite games is one of the best ways to improve your skills, but after a certain point, focusing on one talent in particular may be beneficial. A rhythm game, such as Step Mania, can train your fingers to move quickly regardless of the type of game you’re training for.
3. You can learn from your mistakes. If you want to be competitive, you need to have an honest understanding of what happened. If you always blame luck, a slow internet connection, or other outside factors, you’ll never focus on what you can change. If you get too worked up after a game, make a mental note to “replay” it in your head and consider whether you should have made any different decisions.
4. Improve your hardware. If you enjoy playing the latest multiplayer game on the highest graphics setting, you could be looking at $1000 or $2000 in computer upgrades, but that is an extreme case. There are many inexpensive gaming accessories that can make your life easier, and that’s all you should think about if you prefer to play older games, games with simple graphics, or games that don’t require reflexes.
Many games require a gaming mouse and an ergonomic keyboard that fits your hand comfortably. If you’re using a laptop, any external mouse and keyboard is preferable to the track pad and built-in keyboard.
A headset allows you to communicate with allies in multiplayer games without having to type.
Part 4 Making a Living as a Gamer
1. Choose a well-known game. Only a small percentage of gamers make money from their hobby, and even fewer make enough to call it an income. If you’re serious about achieving this goal, you’ll need to choose a game that millions of people play, preferably one with a competitive scene where players can win thousands of dollars in tournaments. Because of the serious, international competition, some of these, such as League of Legends, are referred to as “e-sports.”
Even if you want to make money reviewing games or entertaining fans by recording yourself playing games, you must focus on new and popular games, especially when you first start out, or no one will be interested.
2. Make a distinct name for yourself. Choose a memorable and easy-to-spell word. This is the name you should use for all games and game-related work you do. This can even be your real name if you use it frequently enough to gain recognition. Kirigaya Kazuto, the main character in the anime Sword Art Online, used his name and combined Kiri’ from Kirigaya and to from his last name to make Kirito.
3. Produce video content. Find a way to record video or set up a webcam and share your gaming or game reviews with the world on YouTube or Twitch. If you can develop a fan base, you can earn a more consistent income through donations or sponsorships than you would from tournament prizes.
To promote your channel, post a link on the game’s forums or social media accounts.
Some games, such as Magic: the Gathering, also allow you to earn money by writing strategy articles and publishing them on a website. This is especially true for collectible card games, as secondary retailers want to attract customers to their website in order for them to purchase product.
4. Give yourself plenty of time. If you want to be one of the few people who makes a living off of tournament winnings, you must be willing to devote at least six hours per day to gaming.
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