Hey yeah it’s been a while
Well lets get started today I am going to cover "Common excuses and 10 biological factors that affect your game play” as you may well have gathered from the title. I will also try and deconstruct the common belief by whiny babies that you can have “good” and “bad days”.
First I will outline the 10 biological factors that commonly affect most people’s game play:
- Sleep time
- Sleep quality
- Sleep pattern
- Antioxidants + vitamins
-Bonus topic on mental health
After that I will at least try to explain why people tend to say "I’m just having a bad day today"
- Sleep -
Sleep, sleep is probably by far the most common factor affecting most peoples game play in this list, it is by no means the most damaging of factors in this list but it is the most common and usually for most people the easiest one to deal with. As I assume the majority of people reading this are students in their late teens to early twenties, I will also assume you have at some point stayed up past your beddie by times and decided to do some late night studying. This is all well and good and honestly allot of the times impossible to avoid, now as long as you at least get some sleep (1-6 hours) you will feel wrecked but you won’t experience the full effects of sleep fatigue which is about the same as drinking a pint or two of beer. This is why it’s so important to get a good amount of sleep, 7-8 hours is optimal. Any more and you experience a symptom known as sleep drunkenness which is a feeling described as having a foggy head or muddled head. This happens because your mind hasn’t exactly caught up with reality yet and is still in a partial sleep and hasn’t fired up properly.
On the flip side however any less than 7 or 8 hours sleep and you run again into the same problem stated earlier where you get the same effects as someone who has drunk perhaps half or less than a pint of beer depending on the amount of sleep you receive (usually 6 hours would leave you awake enough to not feel too bad).
But hours are not everything oh sir no, there is also such a thing as quality of sleep. When you sleep your mind enters a phase known as REM sleep. While in this phase your mind is totally at rest, it is also very important that your mind is not interrupted during this phase as you will obviously wake up and disrupt the phase. This problem is further complicated by the fact that your brain doesn’t enter REM sleep immediately so you may be getting a low quality of sleep if you are:
A. A light sleeper
B. Take naps or you sleep in breaks
It’s also why sometimes people complain of feeling like shits even though they slept for a long time in say an uncomfortable location e.g. a tent, a settee or a bench etc.
Another factor is sleep pattern, this is as the name implies keeping to a sleep pattern where you go to bed and wake up roughly at the same time each day. Now im not sure how much this really affects anyone who can sleep normally, but I know that light sleepers and people with insomnia will benefit from keeping a regular sleep pattern as it helps the brain know when its time to relax and go to sleep. Me personally I could sleep any time, anywhere for any length of time (ive slept in court, slept with bright lights on, slept standing up resting on a wall, slept 16 hours+, slept for 1 hour, slept on the bus, in a library, on a bench, on the street and you get the idea) anyway the point is for me it wouldn’t make a huge difference but it could for example if I slept at 11pm some nights and 5 or 6 am on other nights. Your brain works in a day and night cycle that is determined by your pineal gland, now for most people a bright light would be enough to stop them from getting some sleep, this is because your brain is pre programmed to recognise bright white or blue light as a sign of day time and will not let the mind relax. So if you sleep in the day and wake up at night one day and then sleep normally the next you may feel a minor case of jet lag like symptoms due to the massive shift in time scale and daylight that your brain recognises. Your body’s hormones also regulate different functions during what it perceives as different times of the day, for example at 2pm your body has the highest amounts of co ordination, at 10 you are at your most alert and at around what your body perceives as midnight you start to shut down a bit and less activity occurs as it thinks you should be sleeping despite you being awake still by cheating nature through caffeine and your fucked up sleep schedule.
More about this can be read here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Circadian_rhythm
It’s a pretty good read so check it out; if you are interested about any of the topics talked about so far I will be keeping them in a reference at the bottom of this page.
- Diet -
For diet I honestly dont know too much about the effects of diet on gameplay, there are lots of studies on diet affecting things from IQ to health to height but none of it is really conclusive. It is very likely though that diet does affect these things as seen by increasing average heights and IQ in third world countries as they are slowly becoming industrialised and the standard of living goes up. But usually the consensus seems to be that diet is only really important during the developing years of a child’s life but can affect it from then on however in small ways. There has been noted effects of some foods affecting the body such as foods containing omega 3 oil temporarily increasing IQ levels but even then it’s up to you whether this is a worthwhile area to look into. Honestly the best bet would be to just eat a balanced diet and to make sure to take a multivitamin if your diet is shit (look out for the B vitamins which help with nerve health) but be wary of dosages as some multi vitamins can contain up to 200%+ of the recommended daily allowance and some reach almost toxic levels so do your research on this shit its important :>
Just as a little note salt is also known to help with reaction times, but it’s a bit of a double edged sword as it also increases blood pressure if too much is taken so take all things in moderation.
- Exercise -
Ah by far I think at least the biggest factor to improving your game play. This may seem weird as it did to me as well, but im sure you’re thinking how could exercise improve how good I am at TF2? Well I stumbled across this when reading an interview with strenx he said the best players in quake all do some form of exercise or sport and that he thought in his opinion that there is a definite link between sports and being good at FPS games. Well he’s not far off a study here showed that those who did sports and gaming outperformed those who did one or neither:
"In my experiment those who were both athletes and gamers had the highest hand-eye coordination score of 4.69. After them came the gamers with a score of 4.37. Next came the athletes with a score of 3.05, and in last came those who were neither gamers nor athletes with a score of 2.68. My hypothesis was that those who were both gamers and athletes would do the best, followed by the gamers, then the athletes, and finally those who did neither."
Now I think the reason for this is that exercise has been show to
A. Increase the flow of blood and oxygen to the brain
B. Help the brain repair itself using adult stem cells (as shown in a particularly dubious case of testing alcoholic brain damaged mice and forcing them to run to see improvements in their mental health and faculties)
C. Some other factor, maybe the amount of hand eye co ordination needed in sports or running transfers to the hand eye coordination skills needed for TF2?
Anyway whatever good physical health is always a useful thing so try and do 30 minutes to an hour of running every other day (as to not wreck your knees from running on concrete or burn yourself out from running too much). Things such as listening to music or getting a running buddy will also motivate you to run more, I was lucky with not only having a running buddy but also a very nice seaside running route that went along the coast).
- IF YOU DONT DRINK FEEL FREE TO SKIP THIS PART -
It might be however interesting to you though
- Alcohol -
Alcohol, Its no secret that alcohol is not good for you but what’s not known right now is how bad alcohol is for you. Despite allot of know it alls telling you that alcohol doesn’t kill brain cells and allot of idiots saying alcohol does damage brain cells honestly nobody knows at this point. It’s hard to test how much damage alcohol does because
A. Its hard to get test subjects to drink for long periods of time
B. Even when you do get the test subjects to drink for long periods of time e.g. a year + there are many factors that affect the brain that could ruin the results in that time frame.
C. Its impossible to lock a drunken hobo in a box with no external influences to see how alcohol works on its own for the long term effects.
However the short term effect lets say from drinking once every 2 weeks are better established and it is quite likely that in the short term as long as you don’t reach an alcohol related death by drinking over your bodies ld50 (median lethal dose) you should be more or less okay. Of course things can still go wrong such as blood clots, falling unconscious and other such things obviously but yeah alcohol should be processed by the liver and not damage the brain. This does not mean drinking alcohol is okay, you still run the risk of damaging your body from any amount of alcohol be that 1 drink to 22, when drinking just try to stick to below 8 units anything over 10 is binge drinking where the risk of damage is higher plus usually for most people 4 or 6 units is enough to feel pretty pissed anyway.
But on the long term scale things are not quite so clear, it does seem to be generally agreed however that people who keep drinking will eventually slow down and shut off bits of their brain (not that bad trust me its not permanent, I know that sounds weird) due to lack of oxygen, and might run the risk of damaging the brain cells as well (grey and white and the nerve sheaths). The other main risk is that if the person has drunken alcohol lets say 4 to 5 times a week for a few months and stop, they may well damage the brain as the body has become dependant on it and they will usually develop a syndrome known as alcohol withdrawal syndrome, usually a deficit of vitamin B is also caused by drinking. Cigarette smoking may slow down or interfere with recovery of brain pathways in recovering alcoholics so that is also something to consider. There is hope however, in the past many people believed that you are born with a set amount of brain cells and any that you lost was just hard cheese really. But now there is evidence that stem cells may continue on into adult life in a more specialised form, with adult stem cells obviously being in the bone marrow for example in the arm which has a job of producing red blood cells. There is also a now growing acceptance that there are stem cells that produce specialised cells for the brain as well and that the brain is constantly renewing and changing. This is seen in how "fluid" a brain is, for example when someone is young the brains structure and cells change more easily and renews itself quicker, while an old persons brain is "harder" and changes more slowly and recovers less quickly (70+ usually is when the brain starts to harden and change less). This is pretty much explains the phrase "you can’t teach an old dog new tricks". It’s also why children learn quicker than adults, their brain can change quicker and adapt faster.
- Smoking -
I’m not going to talk about the many dangerous and unhealthy side effects of smoking but will instead focus on the effects smoking has on the brain and hand eye co ordination. Smoking just like alcohol can damage the brain, smoking however does this in a much less permanent way but none the less still damaging. As said earlier alcohol can effectively "shut down" parts of the brain, it does this by narrowing the blood vessels in your brain and shutting or limiting the amount of oxygen going to the brain well smoking has this affect as well. It also compounds this by increasing blood clots and stroke risk by clogging up arteries. This is however reversible by simply stopping smoking.
- Caffeine -
There is literally next to 0 researches on the long term effects of caffeine on the brain, it is generally agreed that caffeine has no serious effect on the brain or body due to how well the body can process it and if the person drinks only 1 cup a day say about 100 mg then there are 0 negative effects. There are some effects that are short term though, hand shaking even after 1 or 2 cups can occur which might affect tracking. The other more serious effect is dependency, it is shown in MRI scans that people who are dependant on caffeine have parts of their brain "shut down or slowed down" when they hadn’t drunk a cup of coffee, after they drank a cup of coffee their brains returned to normal. This of course can be reversed by not drinking coffee for a while and breaking the biological dependency.
- Breathing -
How you position yourself and how you breathe is also important to how alert and aware you can be. Sit up straight so as to not obstruct your airways, and breathe deeply to increase blood flow and the amount of oxygen travelling around the body.
- Antioxidants -
Info on antioxidants that ive ever come across is sketchy at best, some claim antioxidants cleanse your body and help remove impurities, some say an abundance of antioxidants increases the risk of cancer and at the least does nothing for the body. I personally think antioxidants help cleanse the body and remove toxic elements from the body but that’s just my opinion. They are present in a large variety of things such as fruits, vegetables’ and tea and coffee. Especially green tea which has a larger than usual amount of antioxidants for a tea and is its main supposed health benefit. I suggest you try and take some in the form of tea if you can :) (quake smiley)
- Mental health -
This is a kind of bonus topic; there is no greater enemy than yourself. Just be positive holy shit because srsly there is nothing good about saying how bad you are feeling today or how "amazingly god like" you feel. Just be realistic, go in with a mind set of "I am good but maybe not the best, I am playing as good as I always do and I will not get depressed or de motivated if I lose" and then remember that there is always room for improvement. You ever see athletes at the Olympics? Well im sure you have, we have technically according to statistics reached the best times we are eve likely to see at the Olympics as the athletes are literally so good they have reached the levels of human physical ability. Its why the records for fastest meter dash remains the same year in year out by about a second each time and realistically we will only see maybe a 10 second improvement over the next few years due to improvements in equipment. But even then the athletes still believe there is room for improvement, that’s how they got so good they believed they could always improve. Now im not saying whether or not there is a human talent cap for hand eye co ordination or if we have reached it because really no one knows for things like IQ and hand eye co ordination which are more brain based the limit may be endless or perhaps it may be limited to a degree by genetics we just don’t know. But I know for a fact I have seen large improvements not only in me but other FPS players so honestly just try to improve and forget about how bad or good you are playing.
- "Im just having a bad day today" -
A lot of people like to say this, well I am going to try and explain it. Most people like to believe performance varies day to day for no reason, well unless you are affected by one of the topics listed above then your performance should be unaffected. What’s more likely than you just "playing badly today" is that you play the same its just you are playing vs. people who are better than you and you can’t face that someone is better than you so instead you make an excuse that you are just "off" today. I think what varies more is the quality of the players from good to bad rather than your skill, ive seen many bad players play vs. utter shitters and come out with gold quotes like "god im so good today" when really you are bad and they are even worse :>
Just be realistic if you lose, see it as something to improve on see the reasons why you lost fix it and then beat them and then maybe they will be claiming a "bad day" every day after you beat them constantly :)
Well that’s all, it feels more like an essay now, I may split these into individual posts im not sure yet.
None because I literally wrote this off the top of my head, I may try and locate some of the websites I read later but some such as the quake live interview are long gone, but maybe studies will be up still.
Love Penny xoxoxoxo <3