Are you ready to get competitive?

To many the word “competitive” and ” Video Games” shouldnt go together. Video games have long marketed themselves as a younger persons hobby and something the whole family can partake in when we are all gathered around the TV set with nothing to do on a friday night. While a large segment of the gamers in the world are content with this state of gaming there was a growing segment who yearned for more.

Even Video Games in an arcade environment going back as far as the late 70’s and early 80’s attempted to pull a competitive nerve out of players by showing players scores on the screens in between plays. In fact I can remember many times when I would venture to the local arcade in an attempt  to wipe out that guy who had gotten the high score on Double Dragon and replace it with my own 3 letter abbreviation ( Arcade cabinets typically only allowed for 3 letter high score names).

It all began here…

Competitive gaming has always been a part of video games in one form or another whether that be in the form of a leaderboard or a direct head to head confrontation in a two player game.

My first major introduction to competitive gaming came around 1991 when I started playing Street Fighter 2. This is the game that I think for many other gamers really took a competitive stance and brought it right to the fore front of video gaming. It gave the players a set of tools in the form of various characters to control and unleashed a beautifully tight control scheme and a bare bones way to establish who was better ( Best out 3 matches). When you walked up to a Streetfighter cabinet in the early 90’s you where stepping into the ring with whomever was there first. Your quarters plunking in fact stopped his match in progress and forced him to play against you… one of you was walking away from that cabinet when the match was done. I can’t count the amount of times that I debated even playing when someone else occupied a cabinet because I didn’t want to waste my money if I was defeated. Streetfighter2 ushered in a new way to look at playing video games for me and I havent looked back.

2 men entered and 1 man left…and was a few quarters poorer.

Welcome to 2012. Arcades are dead and the home console rules the home of video gamers . You no longer have to leave your house to enjoy playing video games with presentation values of the arcades ( history lesson: did you know that Home consoles graphical prowess was one of the factors that contributed to the death of arcades around the world?). Further to that the ability to play online against anyone in the world now has given us a new way to compete with gamers and not have to worry about recourse or loss of money ( I wasted a lot of quarters getting good at Street Fighter 2).
Game developers have now put a focus on building games that allow for direct competition of players and teams of players in a virtual world. The gaming landscape has changed and so does the gamer who expects to step into the world of competitive gaming.

Just like any sport; the world of competitive gaming also comes with a short list of equipment requirements that need to be met in order to achieve some level of success. similar to how a pro hockey player outfits himself with the latest equipment when he hits the rink so to must an up and coming “E sport player” ( that is a cooler  way of telling people who you play video games on a competitive level ) equip him/herself with the latest gaming gear.

What follows is a list of items you will want to source out as you start to walk in the world of competitive gaming.

1: Gaming screen: I personally prefer to play on a small 24″ widescreen monitor. My chosen display is a 1080p HDMI High definition monitor that has 2msresponse time. You will be the ultimate factor in determining what size of screen you like to play on and no matter what people tell you about what is the ” standard” your eyes don’t lie. If you play better on a smaller screen then buy one; if you like the bigger size then go that route.

I would recommend against a screen this big

My only recommendations would be that you avoid 46″ or bigger displays as it has been proven that they do not translate fast paced images as well and ultimately that could affect your ability to compete. The other factor you need to consider is that if you want  to devote some time and effort into this path; its important that you have your own screen. family screens are great for the casual gamer but if you want to log practice time you don’t want to have to work around everyone’s elses schedule. Think of it like having your own private ice rink to skate on when you want.

2: Controller: You are probably thinking ” I already have one why do I need a dedicated controller for competitive gaming” Simple…you just do.  The last think you want is to have a controller that everyone in your family has been using and potentially dropping or getting food grease all over. Go buy yourself a brand new controller to start your career.

OEM brands like this Microsoft one pictured here are a safe bet.

Make sure you find one that is comfortable for you and don’t be lured away from getting a standard manufacture controller by all the 3rd party ones on the market. Sometimes the OEM brands are the best choice just not as flashy as other brands out there. Do some research and gather feedback from review sites and friends. This is your hockey stick so make sure its a good choice otherwise you’ll be running back to  the bench mid game for a replacement and that could cost you a win.

3: Gaming Headset: Depending on your set up this will either take the form of a simple communication peice or a full-fledged gaming headset. I recommend using the latter as it will deliver the full spectrum of sound that normal TV speakers cannot and in some cases allow you to play better than players who choose  to use the TV sound and a simple ear peice.The other benefit is that the fidelity of a gaming headset  allows it  to filter the game sounds more effectively and you will find that enemy footsteps and tell-tale signs of opponents running up behind you trying to take you out.

I use a pair of these babies to make sure no one gets the drop on me!

Do your homework here as well because these headsets are not cheap and its important that you find a pair that fit all your needs including stylistically ( hey no one said a Competitive gamer couldn’t look cool ) and performance.

4: Misc assecories: This basically fills in your gear with items that will make your life easier while you start to play more and practice more.some things that you can consider are

” Gunners” make you look cool and they apparentyly are good for your eyes as well!
  • Steel Series Gunner glasses
  • ” Play and Charge” cables for your controller
  • comfortable gaming chair
  • ” Kontrol Freaks” thumb stick add ons
Finding a venue to flex your virtual muscles should always be at the top of your agenda. Wherever you live always be on the look out for local venues that host tournaments and face to face competitive events. Source out ONLINE tournaments that you feel comfortable partaking in. You can only skate around your rink shooting pucks at an empty net for so long before you’ll have to step up and play against some real players. Many argue that playing matchmaking or random games ONLINE constitute competitive gaming but those of us who have competed in actual organized events will tell you that it’s an entirely different experience.
Become the Gretzky of E sports !

The path of a competitive gamer is a long road and it really only ends when you feel that you have hit the point that you no longer wish to travel past. Invest your time wisely and make sure you have fun while doing it. Take pride in your skills as they develop and be sure to keep your EGO in check. The world of competitive gaming needs all the ambassadors it can get and it starts with the players themselves.


Dwayne” EVO Knight” Morash


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