Guest Author - Lisa Shea
We've all been there. We're playing a game and we get SO frustrated because the controls are slow, the boss is too hard, we just can't get past the level. Here are tips to get in the zone and WIN!
First off, it's important to remember that in many ways a computer game is just like a sport or martial arts. It involves combinations of finger movements, often very complex, precisely timed ones. When you're playing Mortal Kombat and going up against a super high level boss, you can be performing key movements as complex as some of the most difficult piano symphonies. This means that focus is key.
However, when you're playing a game, the game often deliberately tries to NOT let you focus. There is blaring music, annoying taunts, flashing colors in the background. The game wants to make your challenge even more challenging by doing things explicitly designed to break your focus.
Think of the martial arts. We've all seen the movies where one combatant is angry and riled up. The other combatant is calm, focussed and "in the zone". It's the zone person who always wins. It's the person who can concentrate on technique and accuracy, vs getting the adrenaline and jumpiness of rage interfering with everything.
So it's pretty clear how this translates into PC and console gaming. If you are in the zone, you can rack up millions of points and zip through levels. You see this all the time at gaming tournaments. The people who are angry and frustrated get stomped by minor bosses because they made a silly mistake.
Here are some techniques to help you stay In the Zone.
TURN OFF THE SOUND
I play a ton of games every year for the walkthroughs and reviews I write. I can tell you that the #1 solution to almost every antagonizing situation for me is to turn off the sound. The sound is designed to amp you up. The failure sounds get incredibly annoying, very quickly. Just turn it off. Turn it down if you really need a sound for a reason. Focus on the keystrokes you're doing, as if it was a puzzle.
DRINK LOTS OF FLUIDS
It is REALLY easy when you're gaming to forget to eat and drink. I've done it. That makes your body shaky and irritable, and unable to focus. Hit pause. Get a big glass of water and your favorite snack. When you are well nourished, your gaming really improves.
ELIMINATE OUTSIDE DISTRACTIONS
It can be hard to find a solution if you're forced to watch your baby sister, but as much as you can, eliminate any issues at least during the nasty boss fights. Ask your friends to play a DS game or something. Get headphones to block out your brothers arguing in the hallway. Get your focus on the game at hand.
THINK OF TERMS OF TECHNIQUES
It can be SUPER frustrating to keep fighting the same boss and to have his full body slam take half your health in one hit. However, if you keep trying to go hand-to-hand with him, he'll do it again and again. Instead, try distance shots and kill him off without any damage. There is always a technique for every situation. The game is winnable. Your puzzle is to try different techniques until you determine which is appropriate here. Don't get angry. That's like being angry at a beta fish for fighting with other betas. It's just what they do. Learn what your enemy does, and then find the technique to take him out. There is always at least one.
DON'T BLAME THE GAME
Yes, some games have awful controls. Some have keystrokes which are too complex. Life is like that. You accept that. People have won the game with this set of circumstances. You can too. Learn the techniques that make the controls do what you want. If they're sluggish, then consider that this is part of the challenge - how to fight in a world of molasses. The more you can accept and joke about it, the more you can find solutions.
GET MORE EXPERIENCE
Some gamers try to zip through a game as fast as they can, and then get frustrated when they end up against an enemy too powerful for them. It's like an 8 year old kid zipping to the NBA and then being upset that the NBA players are better than he is. Of course they are! Take your time. Go back and replay previous levels. Replay them again. If you have to, reload from a much earlier save point. Maybe you missed crucial armour that could make this battle easy. maybe you're only level 17 when you could be level 30! Many people play their games 3 or 4 times because they're fun. Even if you have to start from the beginning again, so what? Isn't gaming fun? To complain about having to replay a level is like a football player complaining that he has to play the Rams again. It's a whole 'nother game! If you already know the story, then you should be even better at getting every coin and skill set now, right? Look at it as an investment in your skill set. Every battle you fight - even if you fought it in a previous pass - builds up your finger skill set and speed. That isn't time wasted.
GET SOME SLEEP
There have been many times that I've been up until 4am playing a game because I wanted to hit "just one more level". The longer I play, the worse I get, although I never will admit it at the time. If you've been playing for hours and are stuck and frustrated, take a break. Get some sleep. Instead of wasting 2 hrs on a single boss, you could do something else, go back to the game later and beat him in 10 minutes. That is definitely worth the rest!