Tired of having to share your precious game time with your two-year old sibling that can't even grasp the concept of a 2D platformer? Are you sad that you had to take your once-loved pet cat "for a really long car ride" because it kept chewing through all your cords? Rough situation, that. Wish you could afford to buy more games? Don't we all.
It's a well-known fact that gaming is the greatest hobby on planet earth, but there are always ways to make it just a little bit better. For starters, did you know you could get some mega cheap tubing to protect those flimsy cords of yours? Are you aware of the many great resources that exist for finding the best games for the lowest prices? Read on for more than a dozen great life hacks for gamers, all of which will make your love for gaming a bit more convenient--though none of them will make you quite as happy as the totally legit couple in the image above. Can't have it all, ya know?
Get yourself a comfy-ass gaming chair, and learn basic ergonomics
Fun fact: if you sit in a chair all day long, your back is screwed. Even if you're young now, you'll feel the pain in the future when your spinal column finally decides it doesn't like that you slouch for 12 hours a day. Trust me on this--I once naively thought myself invincible, too. Investing in a quality computer chair can help alleviate some of the health risks that naturally come with vegetating.
So, what actually makes for a "good" computer chair? Lumbar support, yo. You need a sturdy foundation for your back. Also important is adjustable height, and a nice, solid backrest. Once you have your chair, be sure to adjust it so that you're not tilting your hands to type--you want the tops of your hands to be parallel to your forearms, and your computer display to be level with your eyes while naturally looking forward. Do these things, and your body will thank you.
Optimize your TV for gaming
Got yourself a fancy 50" flatscreen TV? Cool, your games probably look pretty damn good on it, even on its default display settings. Thing is, they could look and perform a bit better if you do a little bit of digging through your TV's settings.
See, most TVs apply a few processing effects to the displayed images to make them look marginally better than they otherwise would. But in doing so, your TV could be producing a bit of artificial input lag, as it takes time to apply those fancy effects--I'm talking fractions of a second here, but if you do a lot of multiplayer gaming, that could make or break a killing spree. If your TV has a game mode setting, enable it before jumping into a marathon session. Click here for other handy tips regarding minor picture tweaks and calibration.
Pick up a multi-use USB cable
The thing no one ever tells you about "going wireless" is that it's basically impossible. Cordless mice, keyboards, controllers--all of them need to be charged, and require cords to do so. That's why snagging a multi-use USB cable like this one is an inexpensive no-brainer.
Hell, why stop there? Do you have a Nintendo 3DS? Then why not pick up this USB 3DS charger? You can also pick up a spare USB cable for your PS Vita just in case. With these, you can charge both your handhelds without needing their default chargers. Very useful indeed.
Use split loom tubing to protect power cords from chew-happy animals
Got cats? Dogs? Maybe a huge-ass iguana that you let roam around the apartment just because? Chances are they have, at least once, decided that your console or PC cords make for great chew toys. Of course, you could let your pets find out the hard way that gnawing on electrical wiring is painful in the long term, but then you'd have to buy new cords (and, potentially, new pets).
Alternatively, pick up some split loom tubing and protect those cords from death by chewing (and your pets from death by electrocution).
Store your cables in toilet paper rolls
Pretty much every electronic device you'll buy these days comes with a slew of cords, some of which you really don't need, or are backups for the ones you do. It may be tempting to just toss these in a giant, misc cord bin, but there will come a day when you'll need to find a certain one within that tangled sea.
Instead, hold onto those cardboard toilet paper rolls. They're great for storing cords and keeping them tidy, especially when you have a shoe box or something similar to place them in. Hell, you could get mega fancy and even label them(!) so you know exactly what's what.
Keep a garbage bag with you when traveling with electronics
Do you do much traveling with a laptop / handheld gaming device? Or do you partake in LAN parties on a regular basis? Then you'll definitely want to keep a garbage bag or two with you at all times, as they're great for protecting electronic equipment from the elements.
You never know when a storm might break out, and there's nothing more annoying than trying to figure out how to get your PC (or other electronics) from your preferred method of transportation to your destination without damaging the goods. A garbage bag a day keeps the doctor away.
Actually, that makes zero sense. Still, keep a few of these on hand.
Need a stand for your headset? Pick up one of those banana holders
If you're going to invest in a decent gaming headset, then you'll definitely want to take good care of the thing. Leaving it sitting around on your desk means it has a higher risk of breaking (c'mon, we've all spilled a drink or two by accident).
Even if a stand doesn't come packed in with your headset, you can come up with a makeshift one pretty easily by picking up a banana holder--that one has a 4.5/5 star review, so you know it must be good.
Lose weight while gaming
Science says we need to take care of our bodies, lest we succumb to horrible diseases or obesity. Problem is, exercise just kind of sucks. UNLESS you're playing video games while doing so, in which case it ain't so bad.
Now, it's pretty tough to lift weights or go jogging with a 3DS in your hand, but riding a stationary bike for an hour or two while playing a handheld gaming device or sitting in front of the big screen is a pretty easy way to drop a few pounds without sacrificing game time. Just try not to sweat on your equipment too much. Alternatively, if you're playing a competitive game like Counter-Strike or League of Legends, do a few push-ups every time you die and have to wait out a spawn timer. Trust.
The Wii U GamePad stand can be used for holding just about anything
At some point in your life, you've undoubtedly muttered the words, "man, if only I had a one-size-fits-all stand that I could use to mount literally anything in my home." Well, you're in luck--the Wii U's GamePad stand is the device you've been dreaming of.
It holds your mobile phone or tablet for when you feel like watching movies on an impossibly small screen; it holds your 3DS when you're charging it, and also makes for a great TV remote control holder--the darn thing even holds a sword, as seen in the picture above. Madness.
Play your Wii U from bed (or on a plane)
One of the greatest features of Nintendo's Wii U is that many of its games can be played with just the GamePad. Now, obviously this is an awesome thing when you're family is hounding you because they want to watch the latest episode of 16 and Pregnant on the big screen, but it also presents a few more opportunities you might not have thought of.
For starters, to access your games from the GamePad, the Wii U needs merely to be plugged into a power outlet, no TV necessary. Take it into the bedroom, and you can play from the comfort of your bed--or, if you're in for a six hour flight and have access to a power outlet (hooray Virgin Airlines!), why not join the mile high Wii U club?
Appease your younger sibling by handing them an unplugged controller
Younger brothers and sisters can be awesome, especially when they have yet to develop the ability to think abstractly. Those are the golden years, the ones in which they believe five pennies are better than one quarter, or that you somehow have the magical ability to actually remove your thumb and put it back. But having younger siblings can be a drag when they want to play video games with you every time you sit down with a controller.
One age-old (and admittedly deceitful) fix is to hand them an unplugged gamepad. Next, you must look them in the eyes and lie to their still-developing faces, and convince them that, yes, they're the ones controlling the action on-screen. You're just "helping." Suckers.
Schedule automatic downloads and updates to happen while you sleep
One of the greatest things about the PS4 and Xbox One is that they'll take care of all those pesky updates and downloads in the background, so long as you leave them on standby mode. It's a much better alternative to sitting through hours-long updates everytime you turn your damn console on, as we often do with the PS3 and Xbox 360.
You'll want to dig through your system settings on the PS4 and Xbox One to ensure both are set to auto update. Doing so will save you about 40 aspirin bottles' worth of headaches. If you game primarily on PC, you have it even easier, as Steam pretty much takes care of everything for you without requiring any settings tweaks. The future is beautiful, yeah?
Don't buy new games right away
It seems obvious, no? New games hit retail shelves at full price--and sometimes, they're definitely worth it, especially if we're talking about a specific game you've been looking forward to for a long time. But in most cases, if you have the willpower to hold out for a few weeks, you'll see that game drop from $60 to $40 or less.
Keep checking Steam, or sites like Amazon, for deals; the longer you wait, the cheaper the games you're after will be. And just when you're about to give in to temptation, try to think about how disappointed your backlog would be if you didn't visit it first.
Scout out thrift stores and garage sales for new gear and games
Secondhand stores like Goodwill aren't just great for inexpensive clothing and knickknacks--they're also home to some pretty sweet deals on games and gaming equipment. Some of this will be used, yes, but keep in mind Goodwill also receives shipments of new items from retail stores, such as Target, when packaging is too damaged to be sold by the donating retailer.
You never know when you can score a brand new game or peripheral for cheap, so take a look every once in awhile. The same holds true for garage sales. Time consuming? Yes. Worth it? Sometimes.
Use specialized sites to help scout deals
Alright, so you've checked out your local thrift shops and have had zero luck finding anything worthwhile--don't give up hope yet. Another great tool for finding good deals on gaming gear is through websites like cheapassgamer.com, slickdeals.net, and woot.com, as they specialize in calling out awesome sales. Another pro tip: bookmark this Reddit thread on game deals, and visit it frequently. You'll thank me later.
From games to gadgetry, you're bound to find something you've been after if you keep checking on a regular basis. Plus, most of them have pretty great communities, so it's easy to browse through their forums and find what you need.
Buying new gear? Try nabbing a display model or open box item
Whenever you're looking at picking up new gaming equipment, such as a TV or surround sound setup, don't forget to ask if there are any open box items or display models available. If there are (and if the retailer will sell them to you), you can usually save a good chunk of cash. More often than not, they'll also come backed by the same warranty you'd get if you purchased the item brand new.
Just be sure to ask about it (and the return policy) before you buy. As for games, you can generally find some pretty good used deals on sites like GameFly.com, or at your local video rental store, which at this very moment is probably dumping all its stock because it's going out of business. Harsh? Yeah, but reality isn't always pretty.