A Gamer’s 2021 Resolutions Guide

by Bill Baer

Many of us have already set our resolutions for 2021. It’s a challenging time, since we are still (or should be still) socially distancing and trying our best to avoid crowded places like restaurants and gyms. “Go to the gym” isn’t as reasonable a goal as it was in the past. But we’re managing.

Outside of LANs going dormant for the time being, though, the gaming world hasn’t changed all that much. Gamers are still free to be as adventurous as they want with their 2021 goals. With that being said, I have some realistic and helpful resolution ideas for gamers.

Be Kind to Your Teammates

We’ve all been there. It’s frustrating when one of your teammates doesn’t follow the group’s strategy, going off on their own rather than covering B like you said. It can be frustrating watching them spray and pray rather than take smaller, more controlled shots to improve accuracy. They may have no idea about the current meta, sending your team’s strategy into a tailspin.

We were all beginners once; we didn’t come out of the womb Diamond-level Junglers. We all have good and bad gaming days, too, and sometimes it’s one of our teammate’s bad days. Sometimes people took a break from a game and have just returned, having to figure out everything they missed. Extend them the grace you would want if you were in their position.

Beyond the Golden Rule, though, it’s strictly better to speak to your teammates as equals rather than condescendingly. They will be much more willing to change their behavior if you’re nice and constructive about it rather than rude and hostile. You catch more flies with honey than vinegar, they say. Bickering teammates end up spending more time standing still and flaming each other rather than focusing on the objective. Collaborative teammates can overcome a disagreement to achieve a common goal.

On a related note, if your games of choice offer you the opportunity to speak to your opponents during and after games, be nice to them as well. Recognize and appreciate their skill, rather than diminishing it by attributing their success to cheating or luck. A simple “gg” goes a long way!

Check Your Posture

Slouching in your chair doesn’t feel bad now, but it will later. According to the World Health Organization, 60 to 70% of people in industrialized countries will experience low back pain at some point in their lives. A lot of this has to do with the fact that many of us work in offices or from home, sitting in front of a computer screen for at least eight hours a day. Many of us also go home, or go into another room, and sit in front of a different screen.

Gamers, especially those who play for extended periods of time, need to be diligent about their posture to preserve their long-term health. Sit in a seat that allows you to plant your feet firmly on the ground. Make sure your back is straight and that the top of your monitor is at eye level. Place your keyboard and mouse at elbow height, and keep your wrist straight. If your budget allows, invest in ergonomic chairs and pads, perhaps even a standing desk. You’ll thank yourself later!

Take Breaks and Hydrate

 In line with the previous two resolutions, make an effort to take more frequent breaks from gaming and use those breaks to drink a glass of water. Water, not energy drinks. Energy drinks, as well as coffee and soft drinks, are loaded with caffeine. Caffeine is a diuretic. Diuretics cause us to urinate more often and can leave us dehydrated if we’re not replenishing our body’s water supply.

Taking more frequent breaks, perhaps once every 30 or 45 minutes, will allow us to reset our posture as well. Rather than slumping in our chair for several hours at a time, we may only be slumping for a fraction of that time, which will do wonders for our long-term health. And those breaks will have the added bonus of hydrating us! Win-win.

You may find that your performance in game improves with better posture and hydration. Poor posture and dehydration can also affect our moods, so if we’re taking care of ourselves, we may be more energized, alert, and in good spirits.

Set Realistic Gaming Goals and Don’t Talk About Them

Just as with resolutions, we are unlikely to reach our gaming goals if we aim too high. Instead, set realistic goals. If you’re Bronze, aim for Silver, not Diamond. If you’ve never achieved a Quadra Kill (four kills) before, don’t put a Penta Kill (five kills) on your to-do list. Once you accomplish your smaller goal, you can then raise the bar a bit higher. Achieving several smaller goals will give us those motivating dopamine hits; setting an unrealistically high goal will not give us those dopamine hits at all.

Additionally, aim to make your goals more process-oriented rather than results-oriented. Strive to learn how to play in a new role. Teach yourself how to play a new character or how to use a weapon you often pass over. Don’t strive to win MVP, or have the most kills every game. Furthermore, with the latter approach, you may focus too heavily on individual achievements, forgoing team strategy in the process. You may win the fight but lose the war in that case.

Don’t tell others about your goals, either. In 2009, a study by Gollwitzer et. al. concluded, “Other people’s taking notice of one’s identity-relevant intentions apparently engenders a premature sense of completeness regarding the identity-goal.” Let’s say that it’s important to you to become a professional VALORANT player by the end of the year. If you tell your friends about your goal, and they give you positive feedback, you are less likely to achieve your goal because you will have already received some of that precious dopamine you seek. You’ll already think you’ve achieved something. Instead, mum’s the word.

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