Whether you’re training to go pro or spending a weekend playing through a new game, marathon sessions can put a strain on anyone. Though many of us have had spontaneous marathon sessions with no problems, a little preparation can help you get the most of your sessions. This is especially important if they are going to be a regular occurrence.
Planning ahead can make a big difference. These tips will help you with scheduling your sessions, planning a comfortable setup, looking after yourself and watching out for addiction to get the most out of your marathon gaming sessions.
Schedule Your Sessions
Fitting a long session into a busy life can be challenging, especially with work, family and friends, and other interests to balance. Scheduling your sessions in advance can help you fit them into your life, rather than getting caught up and choosing to ignore other things.
You can lookup how long it takes to beat a game on HowLongtoBeat to figure out how much time you’ll need for a new game. Remember to account for breaks and recovery time. After a long session you may need time to recover by catching up on sleep or spending time away from a screen.
You can try splitting your sessions up. While talking with The Verge pro Dota 2 player Peter ‘ppd’ Dager mentions “disengaging” between a six hour morning team session and a solo session later in the day. Splitting your sessions up can give you time to take a break, stretch and do something else for a bit, before playing some more. This can help you to keep up your energy and regain your focus.
Get the Right Setup
Think beyond your PC and peripherals. People spend a lot of time thinking about their PC components, but your desk and chair will determine how you will be sitting for hours. As Kelly ‘Mrs. Violence’ Kelley put it in an interview with CNET “I’m playing for 10 hours a day, I need to be comfy.” A comfortable chair can make a big difference in your experience. Now there are a range of gaming desks available to meet different needs. Some are height adjustable so you can get them to a comfortable position and easily switch between sitting and standing.
Choosing the right place to setup can be important too. If you can, setup somewhere with a window. It will help you keep track of time and a little daylight is good for boosting your mood. Exposure to sunlight increases the brain’s release of serotonin, a hormone associated with improving moods and increasing calm and focus. If you live with other people, you may want to setup somewhere where you won’t be distracted or interrupted by them. On the other hand, if you’re more social, the occasional interruption by a roommate might be a good opportunity to take a break.
Take Care of Yourself
When people get into a long gaming session they tend to neglect themselves, foregoing basic needs like proper diet and sleep. This may be alright if marathon sessions are a rare occurrence, but if it is a regular thing, plan ahead to look after yourself. In a recent interview with POPGI pro Counter-Strike player İsmailcan ‘Xanteres’ Dörtkardeş said “A balanced dietary program is important. Getting good sleep, being disciplined, working as hard as possible are the things that you have to do.”
Prepare your food and snacks in advance. Make sure you re prepped with a balanced diet, not just junk food an energy drinks. Stay hydrated by drinking water between your coffee, or Monster, or whatever you drink to stay energized. Eating well and staying hydrated can keep you from getting sluggish and losing concentration part way through your session.
Take breaks every hour or two to get up and stretch. Getting your blood circulating can help to reduce the risk of injuries like carpal tunnel. This will also give you a chance to rest your eyes and think about something else for a few minutes. When you return to the game, you will likely be more focused and have more energy to carry-on.
Get a good nights’ sleep before the session. Being well-rested can help you keep up your energy, maintain focus and play for longer. If you’re too drowsy, your playing will likely suffer and you probably won’t have as much fun. Don’t forget to plan some sleep recovery time after your session, before you need to go to school, work or other obligations.
This may seem like an odd thing to recommend, but shower before your session. Basic hygiene seems like an absurd thing to need to suggest; however it has popped up on a few forum discussions because once you get into a session, you won’t want to stop for a shower. We’ve all been to a LAN with someone who didn’t heed this advice. Don’t be that person.
Know When to Stop
There is some debate over whether gaming addiction is a real thing. According to this Science Daily article, some researchers have found that around 8.5% of children in the United-States who play video games will become addicted. With the potential risks, it is important to recognize when your training or occasional marathon sessions are becoming a bigger problem.
It’s not uncommon to get sucked into a game and for a session to go longer than anticipated. This isn’t a big deal on its own, but when you start to neglect other aspects of your life, it’s probably time to stop. If you find yourself calling in sick to work to keep playing, or ignoring other obligations, that’s likely a problem. Another sign is if you decide to skip meals or avoid basic hygiene. If friends and family are getting concerned, it’s likely a sign to consider how your hobby is affecting your life.
Put It All Together
Marathon gaming sessions can be a fun experience and long training sessions are part of staying competitive. Long hours of playing come with a range of risks such as strain injuries or neglecting other aspects of your life. If you plan ahead, you can reduce some of these risks. Scheduling your sessions can help you to fit them into your life and take regular breaks. Having a comfortable setup with a good chair and desk can help you play longer and feel better. Taking care of yourself is crucial. Make sure to have supplies for a proper diet and to stay hydrated. Take regular breaks to get up and stretch. Be careful that your gaming doesn’t take over other parts of your life. A little preparation can help give you an edge and help you get more enjoyment from your sessions.