Ways to improve your gaming skills

There's nothing more humiliating than being the one guy who is consistently eliminated first in Super Smash Bros. tournaments. As you sit on your bean bag, occasionally sipping Mountain Dew and forlornly watching your friends having fun, you ponder how to get, well, better at video games. Fear not, young padawan, for here are some general tips you can employ to become a better digital destroyer. As to why you're spending your college nights playing Super Smash Brothers…well, there's some things that we just can't help with.

Play more games

It may seem obvious, but the more video games you play, the more skilled you'll become. It's particularly easy to become adept at a certain genre of video game. The core control mechanics of first-person shooters (FPS) have changed little over time. From BioShock Infinite to the Doom series, the art of strafing and avoiding enemy fire is universal across most shooters. Playing through a few games like this will make you a better player when you delve into a new one, like 2016's Mirror's Edge Catalyst. Shoot-em-ups, role-playing games, and run-and-gun games are also genres that share similar elements across titles. Meanwhile, perfecting your skills at Contra, for example, will likely make you a better Metal Slug player.

Practice, practice, practice

Are you more interested in competitive eSports games like Counter-Strike or League of Legends? Just like any skill, if you want to be master it, then you need to devote time to practicing. Most hardcore eSports competitors' full-time jobs are actually playing video games. These players hone their skills for hours at a time. You need to do the same if you hope to win big prizes at tournaments. If you go down this route, then be sure venture outside periodically to soak up some vitamin D. After all, rickets can seriously put a cramp in your game playing.

Do your research

You probably already do this, but it bears repeating: look up videos on YouTube that lay out tips and tactics about your favorite game. There undoubtedly exist YouTube videos on how to be a better StarCraft or Counter-Strike player. Aside from YouTube, you can even go the old-fashioned route and buy a strategy guide for a specific game. The website GameFaqs also offers a plethora of user-created walkthroughs and strategy guides. There's no shame in asking for help once in a while, brah.

Join a club or team

There's truth to the old saying, "there's strength in numbers." Try joining a local club at your university or in your city to exchange tips with other players, or to simply practice. Of course, you can certainly find players online. Video games, however, can be an isolating hobby. Why not meet some folks in person? Check out Meetup to see if there are any gamer groups in your area. If you're interested in team-based, competitive gaming, then participate in a try-out for a Counter-Strike team. If you make the cut, then you will have several teammates to help show you the ropes. One of the best ways to learn any skill is to have someone mentor you in it. Just look at everything Darth Vader accomplished with the Emperor as his guide! Okay, that's a bad example.

Watch and learn

If you want perfect your skills in eSports, then watch what the experts do during live-streaming competitions or during televised events. If you're into CounterStrike: Global Offensive, then the upcoming ELeague show, set to debut this summer on TBS, is a good place to start. An even better strategy is to attend one of these competitions. That way you can be around players with similar interests who may impart some advice to you.

Take care of your body

General health advice like getting a full night's sleep, exercising regularly, and eating healthy is applicable to becoming a better gamer. To effectively play video games, or do any activity that requires precise coordination, your reaction time must be at a heightened level. How do you expect to defeat that Zergling horde if you're half-asleep at the keyboard? As tempting as it may be to stay up late to finish one more more Fallout 4 mission, just put the controller down and get some rest. That feral ghoul can wait. Besides, staying in shape is a great way to attract those scantily clad cosplayers at the next competition…in theory, at least.

Play old school video games

Old school video games from the 8-bit era like Donkey Kong, Castlevania, and Ninja Gaiden were unforgiving to the novice player. They required precise timing if you hoped to see the next level without a Game Genie. The publishers of many of these classic games first released them into arcades. This meant that if you wanted to keep playing then you had to get really, really good (or have parents with bottomless pockets). If you play some of these older games regularly, then you will bolster your reaction time high enough to take on almost anything a contemporary game can throw at you.

Play against a younger sibling

If all else fails, invite your younger brother or sister to play a game against you. You will likely annihilate your relative-turned-practice dummy and make yourself feel better. Of course, there's always a possibility that little Donnie could decimate you. In that case, you should just give up playing games altogether. Or, better yet, make him your new mentor…