10 WAYS TO IMPROVE YOUR GAMING

1. Be Comfortable
Make sure that you're sitting in a comfortable position that won't cut off the circulation of any of your extremities. Don't hunch and don't slouch. You want to keep your back as straight as possible. Laying down on the floor and looking up for several hours at a time will strain your neck muscles. Use the pause button and get up and move around every often to change positions if you start to become uncomfortable. You'll play better and longer and you won't have to get your foot amputated because gangrene set in.

2. Hydrate Yourself
Keep yourself refreshed internally. It's so easy to become dehydrated that it can sneak up on you with little warning. Don't be so quick to reach for a Coke to do the trick, all you need is a few glasses of water. Being low on water can make you tired. It also hampers the brain's ability to make those important chemical connections, and you need to be running on all cylinders when you're playing for keeps. A coffee will give you a temporary boost but it's not something that you want to rely on. Limit your coffee to a few cups a day and cut down on the sugar - that included sodas. If you're not moving around physically you're going to turn that sugar into fat. Your brain doesn't need a ton of sugar to operate and you'll end up getting more sugar than you need by eating a normal breakfast.

3. Keep it Real
Just as too much coffee can become habit forming, other drugs such as marijuana, cocain, meth and ecstacy can ruin your health and even screw up your thought processes. If you're not getting a big enough kick out of games that you need some artificial stimulation you should see a doctor or a psychiatrist and see if you have attention deficit disorder or some kind of depression. Regardless of what drug you use to enhance your gaming performance or enjoyment, you are eventually going to burn out when your body adapts to the stimuli as your tolerance increases making you less sensitive to the drug's effects. If you can't keep things in moderation go get some help. There's no shame in it when it comes to your life because nothing is more important.

4. Reboot Your Brain
Too much of a good thing can turn against you. If you're familiar with the law of diminishing returns you understand that there will be instances where you do not always reap what you sow. In some cases your activities will actually do more harm than good. If you just can't get past a certain level and every encounter is causing you to swing the controller around the room like a remote-controlled plane then take a break. Get away from the machine. Take a walk. Take a nap. Go skateboarding. Read a book. Watch some TV. Clean up your room and do the dishes...of course I'm just kidding about that last one. Taking a time out will help refresh your brain which is busy creating synapses for storing the data that you've programmed into it. When your brain gets overloaded from excessive stimuli it fails to work in an efficient manner. Go back to the game in a few hours or a few days and you'll feel like a new man - or woman - as your brain catches up with the processing.

5. Psyche Yourself
A self-fulfilling prophecy is a situation in which you rise or sink to the occasion based on your mental attitude. If you approach something with confidence you have a greater chance of succeeding than if you believe that you're going to fail. Nothing can make you fail more assuredly than yourself. If you believe that a certain situation in a game is too difficult for you to complete, then it will be. In short time you'll be heading for the cheat codes or walkthroughs. Use these only if you're really stuck. You'll feel better about yourself if you can complete most of the game on your own. Just keep in mind that a lot of people, even more stupid than you, have completed this game. Doesn't that make you feel better already?

6. Get an Education
Today's videogames go beyond basic hand/eye coordination. The puzzles and situations that will confront you require sophisticated reasoning skills, some that would challenge a detective. To this end you will need more than just well-tuned reflexive responses, you will need knowledge. Whenever possible try to educate yourself in as many disciplines as possible. Watch science shows. Read books on strange facts. Check out documentaries and surf the net for random nuggets of information that you wouldn't normally be exposed to. All of this info will help you form a more cohesive picture of the world and the way in which things work. Even if the info doesn't specifically relate to specific games it will help to expand your mind and allow you to store and process more data in the future. Your brain is like a muscle - use it or lose it.

7. Practice
Sometimes all you need is practice to develop certain skills in specific areas to successfully complete a game. With so many different genres included in new games you will need to hone your expertise in elements such as shooting, platforming, combat, puzzle solving, stealth, sports and racing. You can get the practice that you need by renting games that you wouldn't otherwise be interesting in. Discover what areas you are weak in and then rent a game that specializes in that area. Don't worry about completing the game or even having fun with it, just use it as training to develop your skills so that you can become a better all-round player.

8. Get in Shape
You don't have to exercise with that annoying Tony Little to play a videogame but if you want to play to your full potential you will need a functioning brain and reflexes that are finely tuned. If you don't have a regular daily exercise routine, just take a half-hour to forty minute walk around your neighborhood before you settle in for a marathon gaming session. You'll feel better and think better. It works like magic and best of all, it's free. It will make you calmer at the core of your being so that you can make deeper decisions without being a twittering, hyperactive mess.

9. Learn How to See
There is a special technique that you can develop that allows you to look at the entire screen at once to determine instantly what areas are dangerous and what areas are safe. The first thing that you have to do is learn to take your eyes off of your character and glance at the entire screen - to see the big picture. It will take some time but eventually you will be able to see things out of the corner of your eyes and react appropriately. The trick is not to focus on anything specifically. The moment you do you know you're doing it wrong. We're conditioned to read one word at a time in a book and not to look at the entire page. When playing a videogame you must look at the entire page. One way you can break this habit is by watching a movie or TV show and forcing yourself to look at nothing but the background. Directors force you to look where they want you to look. Once you break free of this manipulation you'll be able to process more information than you ever thought possible.

10. Cultivate the Zen
Playing a videogame in a Zen-like state is every gamers' dream. Once in a while you will experience a state of Zen where you become one with the game. It seems that you can do no wrong. You can anticipate every move and you're indestructible. This doesn't apply to games that you've played over and over. That's memory. Zen occurs simultaneously at the exact moment of the experience so that you are in the "now." By following all of the above-mentioned steps you will be well on your way to the enlightened realm of gaming Nirvana.

By Cole