College gaming guide - 10 tips for college-bound gamers

Be the life of the gaming party

If college has taught us anything, its that a university can be an unpredictable place. With hours spent writing papers, fruitless attempts at getting a girlfriend, and dealing with the inevitable thought of loan payments, you might begin to wonder if anything at college is constant. But through all of these life experiences, gaming has been that constant: Something to unite dorm mates and classmates all throughout campus.

No matter if youre the gamer whos only into Call of Duty or the hardcore fanatic that spends hours in RPGs, college gaming is vital--but its also a delicate art form. To get the most out of your experience, weve compiled a list of ten major tips thatll make college your most thrilling time yet as a gamer.

Optimize your living space

Living on your own is an exciting time for anyone, but in college--much like a prison--youre going to have to become accustomed to small living quarters. Thankfully, there are some tips you can use to make the most of the space youve been given for an optimized gaming experience.

One initiative youll want to take is purchasing a small, yet spacious TV stand, specifically one with shelves on the side. Not only will a stand save desk space; youll also be able to store games, controllers, and batteries on the side, while having a nook to store your console(s) of choice. If youre set on using your desk as a stand, though, one step you can take is to invest in a cost-effective and space-friendly console tower to store the aforementioned items and much more.

Branch out with multiplayer gaming

Whether youre a hardcore multiplayer gamer or one who usually dives deep in single-player stories, youll need to be open to the social side of games. One simple reason for this is that youll be around countless people who are most likely gamers. As clich as it sounds, multiplayer games will help you make friends, and to be frank, thats important in college.

If its any consolation, dorms are incredibly loud and often filled with obnoxious people. Trying to trudge through a games single-player when vital lines of dialogue are getting drowned out by external noise can be infuriating. Multiplayer doesnt need the same type of focus as a story does, which will play nicely with dorm life. Plus, if you have a microphone, online chats can be hilarious, especially after two in the morning.

Dont let dorm life ruin your single-player experiences

With that being said, you shouldnt shy away from single-player experiences altogether. In fact, that would put you out of the loop when your browse the Internet and listen to gaming podcasts. To combat the loud and insane dorm life, we advise you to invest in a nice pair of headphones.

Gaming headphones made by Turtle Beach, Astro, and the like feature the ability to hear full, in-game audio without TV speakers. This function also acts as outside noise-reduction, keeping you keenly focused on the virtual events playing out in front of you. It can also keep your roommate sane if you want to play a game late into the night while he or she sleeps. You have enough drama in college already--why let noise and roommates add to that?

Dont be a hermit gamer

The last two entries are worthwhile and important to continuing a healthy gaming lifestyle. But gaming can also turn you into that guy. Dont be that guy. That guy is someone who locks themselves up in their room and shoots and loots their way for hours, without any actual contact with other people.

Such antisocial activity will surely you get a bad rep, and you arent likely to make any friends--friends who are most likely gamers. We advise you to open your door up and let folks wander in and see what youre playing. By the same token, walk around and see who else is playing games on your floor. Not only will you meet cool new people--youll get a chance to talk gaming with others, and avoid falling into the stereotypes that gamers are too often thrown into.

Plan ahead for a college Internet connection

While colleges are normally partners with excellent Internet service providers, that doesnt mean that youll never run into lag, disconnects, or time-outs. You have to take into account the vast amount of people logging on with devices that use bandwidth. One important tip to take into consideration is knowledge of your colleges busiest, peak hours online. It may seem like a silly tip at first, but a proper connection makes for a more enjoyable time gaming online.

Another tip would be to weigh the costs of a hotspot. If your colleges Internet is horrific in some sense and you have the money to spend, a hotspot can save you the hassle of lag and lost connections. Better yet, you can set yourself up on a data plan for a hotspot that allows you to switch between your schools connection and your hotspot whenever its convenient.

Invest in your consoles media applications

In just a few short years, both Microsoft and Sony transformed into the leading media devices for both TV and movies. With apps like Hulu, Netflix, MLB.TV, HBO Go, and countless others, youll have hours of entertainment ahead of you outside of gaming. This is crucial, because--lets be honest--we all need the occasional break from shooting bad guys and saving princesses.

Kick your feet up and get comfortable

A stylish, roomy gaming setup is undoubtedly needed when you look to college gaming, but even more so is comfort when gaming. Most colleges offer cheap, rigid wooden chairs to match your desk area, which arent exactly the most comfortable way to spend hours chugging along a mission or multiplayer match. Being a college kid, you most likely dont have the space or resources to purchase your ideal gaming furniture--but that doesnt mean there arent other fantastic options.

Futons and small, two-person couches are a cheap pathway to comfortable gaming, and theyll add a laidback style to your room. We also suggest that you look into getting a small footrest, around 2 by 2, so that you can kick your feet up as you enjoy your entertainment.

Dont let gaming become an expensive social club

As much as we all love gaming, its still only one aspect of our multifaceted lives. In college its a minor aspect when compared to what were all actually there to do. This means playing the role once occupied by your parents: Constantly remind yourself to stay on top of your grades and let gaming be a leisure activity, not vice versa.

Simply put, dont let college become a $15,000-a-year social club, because youll regret it when you receive a diploma and get slammed with bank loans. Yes, youll inevitably put off an assignment here and there to enjoy some Halo with your buddies, but dont make it a regular decision. Gaming can be enjoyed so much more when youre not dealing with professors breathing down your neck--or worse, the threat of academic probation.

Dont play MMOs hardcore

No, its not because we hate them--rather, we know firsthand just how much time weve put into them over the years. World of Warcraft, Guild Wars 2, Rift--theyre all serious time investments that cant be compared to the average game. College doesnt offer the amount of hours it takes to properly playthrough these MMOs. Our advice, you ask? Keep your MMOs back home, possibly on another computer, and play them when youre at home during breaks.

Youll not only find those times ample for enjoyment, theyll be a fresh experience every time. We should note that there are some of you who may be yelling at your screen saying, I totally played them and had no issues, and to that we commend you; we just dont see you in the majority, sadly.

Try and use gaming to stay fit

One of the classic college fears as a freshman is the dreaded weight gain known as the freshman fifteen. Unfortunately, its a very real possibility, as youre not being forced to take a gym class or participate in a sport. Thankfully, gaming isnt all about the controller and couch anymore. Kinect, PS Move, and Wii titles have utilized new technology and ideas to turn gaming into fitness.

What could be better than having a Dance Dance Revolution party with your friends while shedding pounds? Okay, maybe paying off your student loans, but work with us here. Kinect gaming may not be possible for many due to space restraints, but there are enough ways to utilize gaming to stay healthy. Plus, youll be smashing another gaming stereotype, which we all really do hate.

Gaming 101

Surely there are a number of other tips worth mentioning, but these ten will cement you in a gaming environment thats the perfect balance of friends, fun, and actual schoolwork getting done. We now turn to you: Do you have personal tips for a great college gaming experience, whether youre in college now or were back in the day? Let us know by commenting below.

Want more school-oriented gaming content? Weve got you covered--check out the real-life skills we learned from video games and the best edutainment games.

Gamer. Freelance Writer (GamesRadar, GameZone & others). Music man. Reader. Writer. Sports fanatic. More.