While we often use gaming to relax, the majority of video games have a habit of keeping us on our toes. After all, whether you’re getting stuck into a shooter or are attempting to solve a puzzle, you’re required to use a great deal of skills, the depth of which experts are still in the process of uncovering.
Alongside critical thinking, we can surely all agree that gamers need quick reactions to perform at their best. Luckily, gaming in itself can help to significantly improve reaction times in most players. But, with pros typically having the best reaction times of all, every gamer could benefit from harnessing this crucial skill both onscreen and off.
To play at any professional level, reaction times should be nurtured in the same way that the ball skills of professional footballers are. Not only that, but reactions should be trained and focused on the specifics of all-important gameplay.
In this article, we consider why reaction times matter so much, and how you can develop lightning-fast reactions to truly revolutionize your gaming style.
The Importance of Reaction Times for Gamers
In a scientific sense, reaction times simply refer to how quickly our reflexes respond to certain stimuli. This could be anything, from swiping at a stray fly coming towards our faces to slamming the brakes on when we encounter a delay while driving. Quick reactions like these are crucial skills for everyone and allow us to avoid injury, adapt to our surroundings, and generally live a smoother life.
For gamers, those reaction times are put even more to the test. After all, when you’re inside a game, you’re dealing with way more stimuli, including armed shooters, unknown creature attacks, and a whole load more. With that in mind, it kind of figures that the people who respond to these things fastest will perform the best.
When you harness your reaction times as a gamer, your play can benefit in a great many ways, including –
- An increased chance of winning
- A calmer gameplay experience overall
- The ability to succeed in a wide variety of games, including shooters, puzzle challenges, driving games, and more
- The opportunity to perform well in even high levels
- More measured problem solving
- And more
All of these benefits are a pretty big deal, and they’ll probably all come to you if you play any game for long enough. But, why wait around? If you want to play well, you could also benefit from helping your reactions along a little in the following ways –
Play the Right Games
We’ve already covered the fact that pretty much any game is going to help with your reactions when you play it long enough. But, just like how some games help your critical mind more than others, some games are inevitably better for your reactions, too. On the surface, of course, it’s easy to see that shooters are especially great in this sense, as they test your reactions in a range of different ways. Fighters, or pretty much any competitive game, can also be great as they require you to read and react to an opponent.
But, when thinking specifically about the improvement of your reaction times, you might benefit from stripping things right back. After all, while each of these games will undeniably help, reactions aren’t the sole purpose of play. And, this can slow your development in the long run. Luckily, there are a fair few more simple games that are solely reaction-based. Perhaps the most long-standing and reliable of these is pinball, as your only job here is to react quickly to an otherwise randomly falling ball. Play this a few times a week, and you’re sure to feel the benefits.
Once you’ve got pinball in the bag, it’s worth trying other solely reaction-based games, including old classics like Guitar Hero if you can get hold of it. If not, try out Piano Tiles, which is a more modern, simplistic iteration that’s great for both reactions and coordination. As with pinball, make this a regular part of your gaming routine, perhaps for a daily warmup, and your reaction times should quickly start reducing.
Incorporate Reflex-Heavy Exercises Off-Screen
What you’re doing on-screen might be great for your reflexes, but it’s important to incorporate reflex focuses into your everyday life where you can, too. After all, you can only play games in your spare time at home. And, for true improvement, you should be focusing on your reflex development way more often than that.
Admittedly, there are now some great mobile apps and games that you can take around with you for this purpose. In fact, reflex-specific apps like ‘Reaction Time’ can help you both track and improve your progress wherever you happen to be. But, you can do even better than that by ditching screens altogether in place of physical reaction exercises like wall-juggling with a tennis ball or trying a ball drop exercise with a partner.
Aim to complete exercises like these at least a few times a day. In as little as a couple of weeks, your gameplay is sure to reflect your efforts here.
Speaking of off-screen exercise, one of the best things any of us can do for our reactions is to make sure that we’re getting enough sleep. After all, studies continually reveal that even one night of sleep deprivation can reduce our reaction times in a significant way. A long-term lack of sleep can have a particularly negative impact, and it’s a problem that gamers often fall foul of.
This is because game worlds are designed to help you lose track of time. That’s why gameplay is so immersive and great for escapism. But it can also see you staying up until ungodly hours in the morning. The result? Significantly reduced gameplay reaction times, despite your best efforts to improve.
As well as all of the aforementioned game types and exercises, you should therefore make sure to turn your console off at a decent time to ensure you get at least eight hours of sleep each night. Even if the idea of cutting into your gameplay like this upsets you, remember that, with your faster reactions as a result, you’ll be able to move through those levels far more quickly than you would if you stayed up slaving over the same level all night.
Think About Your Equipment
Ultimately, your reaction times are more a testament to your skill than your setup. But that doesn’t mean you can discard the importance of your setup altogether. For PC gamers, in particular, the equipment used can either enhance or destroy reaction skills. This is especially true of keyboards and your computer mouse, which can impact the speed with which you’re able to move and operate. Ideally, you want to find PC gear that’s designed for quick play, including a fast-reacting mechanical keyboard, and a high-speed wireless gaming mouse.
Even outside of PC gaming, equipment can have a surprising impact on your gameplay. Namely, additions like hand warmers can help to keep your blood circulating and your reactions firing fast. And, when it comes down to competition between you and another talented gamer, that small upper hand could make a huge difference.
Reaction times matter to everyone, but they’re especially crucial to gamers looking to come out on top. So, whether you want to be head of the leaderboard in your gaming community, or you just want to beat that impossible boss at long last, developing your reactions in this way could well be the trick to help you do it!