16 life hacks for gamers

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.

Hack your way through life

Did you find any of these tips helpful? Or, do you have some of your own that you'd like to share? Let us know in the comments below.

And if you're looking for more, check out 10 tips for college-bound gamers and how to build a gaming PC for under $1,000.

Ryan Taljonick

Ryan was once the Executive Editor of GamesRadar, before moving into the world of games development. He worked as a Brand Manager at EA, and then at Bethesda Softworks, before moving to 2K. He briefly went back to EA and is now the Director of Global Marketing Strategy at 2K.