Video games are quickly becoming one of the most popular global hobbies, and the year 2020 brought a lot of new players to the scene. According to a recent survey, 81 percent of respondents cited having tried a new online game or activity over the past year. For those that are new to gaming, it can be a little overwhelming to know where to start or where you should focus your time (and money). To keep it easy, we’ve broken down the basics for beginners into three main categories: hardware, set-up and streams.
Category One: The Hardware
The type of console or system you use for gaming can significantly impact how and what you play. Each of these hardware options come at a cost, but some offer monthly subscriptions or payment plans to help you manage a smarter budget. Let’s dive in:
- Xbox: The Xbox console is a great option for a beginner who likes to play a variety of games. Thanks to resources like GamePass, there are plenty of classics for everyone to try. Xbox offers exclusive access to games like Halo, Gears of War and Fable.
- PlayStation: While similar to the Xbox, Playstation consoles offer a little bit higher processing power (which for serious gamers, can make a big difference). Some retro titles are available to PlayStation, and games like Uncharted, Killzone, or Ratchet and Clank are exclusive to the platform.
- Nintendo Switch: If you grew up with a GameBoy Advance in your hand, the Nintendo Switch might be the best console for you. Lightweight, portable and easy-to-use, the Switch’s release was an instant hit with players of all age ranges. The console can be played handheld or plugged into a larger monitor. If you want a gaming experience similar to that of an Xbox or PlayStation, consider purchasing one of Nintendo’s wireless pro controllers.
- Personal Computer (PC): If you already have a laptop in your house, you might be able to start gaming today! Depending on the processing and drive size of your device, titles like Fall Guys, Minecraft, Fortnite and Overwatch can be played right away. Many gamers choose to build custom computers for gaming, but this isn’t essential if you’re brand new to the hobby.
In addition to understanding your console options, make sure you explore your cloud-based gaming services too:
- Google Stadia: With the ability to stream video games to players up to 4K resolution at 60 frames per second, the Google Stadia is a high-powered gaming service with options to purchase Stadia controllers and processors as well.
- Apple Arcade: Own an iPhone? If you do, you might be able to hop into the Apple Arcade for some great tablet or phone-based games. Sayonara Wild Hearts, What the Golf and Assemble with Care are some great titles to start your experience with.
If you’re still not sure which console is the best option for you, ask around. It’s likely that your colleagues, friends or family may have some hardware you can test drive before making a commitment.
Category Two: The Set-Up
Where you play is just as important as how you play! In the beginning, make sure you have seating with good back support and a monitor or TV with adjustable brightness. These factors combined can have an impact on muscle soreness, poor posture and eye strain if you’re being careful.
For gamers that want to take it a step further, you’ll want to look into the following additions for your customized gaming set-up:
- Headset: When searching for the right headset, judge your options by the following basic criteria: sound quality, head fit and mic quality. Essentially, you want to make sure that you can successfully hear the enemy approach and let your team know they’re coming, all without getting a headache.
- Seating: Just like in an office setting, ergonomic chairs offer a lot of value to gamers. There are a variety of gaming chairs that focus on providing good back support, a strong head rest and sometimes even a way to kick up your feet. Pay attention to your chair’s height against the location of your monitor on your TV.
- Controller: Even if you like a console’s basic controller, there are ways to plus-up what you’ve got with a few simple add-ons. For example, consider purchasing grip pads to place on the edges of your controller to reduce slip from sweat and increase hand comfort.
- Style: Don’t forget to be fun with your gaming set-up! Whether you purchase LED lights or add a couple favorite figurines, make the space your own.
Your gaming set-up can be as simple or high-tech as you like, what’s most important is that you feel comfortable and relaxed when you settle in to play.
Category Three: The Streams
Whether you want to stream your content to the world or want to watch streamers to learn from their expertise, it’s a good idea to learn about the online video game community. Every day, hundreds of thousands of viewers tune in to watch their favorite players (both amateur and professional) compete in their favorite games. At the end of the day, we watch these streamers because it’s part of a live, engaging and community-based experience.
While there are plenty of ways to watch, three main avenues stand out:
- Twitch: As both the powerhouse and most popular platform, Twitch offers hundreds of daily broadcasts to inspire your gaming experience. This platform is catered to the viewers, and you can spend countless hours exploring the different content categories and streams.
- Facebook Gaming: If you’re interested in making more money while streaming, Facebook Gaming might be the option for you. Overall, they pay their creators more money—but it may be harder to build a large audience, as the platform itself is newer.
- YouTube: While a little trickier to navigate, many streamers choose to broadcast their content on YouTube, making it easy to go and re-watch content if you miss it when it’s live. YouTube is the best place to go if you already know your favorite streamer’s and want to see compilation videos or highlight reels.
Start Gaming Today
There’s a million ways to make gaming work for you, and thanks to an industry that’s growing rapidly, it’s like a “choose your own adventure” experience! Once you’ve found the right console, built the right set-up and spent a little time on streams, you’ll be good to go. Happy gaming!