The increase in popularity of eSports and professional gaming has meant that we have been able to study the best way of achieving gaming performance. You will not become a professional gamer by playing video games as often as possible, but rather you may become a professional gamer by following a structure more similar to that of a professional sports player. Important factors in becoming a professional gamer include; strong communication skills, social skills, physical and mental fitness, and a number of other factors. The following subheadings are areas that the performance optimisation program focuses on.
Sleep and Naps
Quality of sleep, as well as duration, is key for high performing athletes. At the bare minimum, seven hours of sleep is recommended, but even nine or ten hours is also considered healthy. Power naps can be taken throughout the day to supplement for shorter sleeps. Our bodies begin to secrete a substance called melatonin as light disappears in the evenings, but screen time can delay the secretion of melatonin by up to an hour and a half. Even if you go to sleep immediately after gaming, the first hour and a half of sleep will be disrupted by the lack of melatonin, causing an overall diminished quality of sleep.
Physical exercise is an important component of a healthy lifestyle, and it can significantly improve performance in regard to video games. A study conducted in 2020 tested League of Legends players, while giving some the task of exercise and reading, and others to simply rest. Those who were told to exercise were introduced to high intensity interval training (HIIT). After 15 minutes of HIIT and 20 minutes of reading, they were told to return to the game. Compared to those who were told to rest, the exercise group was more effective in their gameplay and committed less errors.
Meditation allows for the brain to relax. By boosting the brain’s regeneration, we are able to take control of it. Other benefits of meditation include reducing anxiety, lowering blood pressure, regulating the hormonal system, as well as improving the quality of sleep. Introducing mindfulness and meditation into your routine is extremely helpful for cognitive function and concentration. To begin integrating meditation into your lifestyle, try to make an effort to meditate before sleeping. In the absence of screen time, with dim lights, nightly meditation helps to release melatonin before falling asleep, and improving overall sleep quality.
Small breaks can help to improve sustained attention, which is highly important in successful gaming. After a certain amount of time doing any task, our attention to it declines. In order to counteract this drop in attention, Gamewell suggests several different strategies to increase blood flow and mitigate against lapses in attention. Stretching is a tactic that aims to refocus the mind and improve focus through movement. Another option to refocus during a little break is to focus on breathing techniques. Deep breathing is known to decrease stress and increase energy, which then enables the gamer to have deeper focus.
Food and Drinks
A balanced diet can help to improve cardiovascular health as well as cognitive functioning. In order to perform at your very best, nutrition is very important. Having access to healthy foods to snack on during little breaks will help improve performance and foster good habits. It is also important to note the levels of caffeine that you are ingesting, and how they affect you personally. Caffeine has a half life of four hours, meaning it can affect us for longer than we think. For this reason, it is advisable that gamers refrain from drinking caffeine for five hours before they intend to sleep.
One particular study of gaming timings conducted research on two separate groups who were told to play Starcraft II over a period of seven months. One group was to play excessively, and the other group was to play moderately. In the beginning, the group who played excessively showed a higher skill level, but eventually, the other group caught up and ultimately surpassed them. Those who played excessively played so often that they required longer periods of rest, but the moderate group could continue to improve their gameplay incrementally. Gaming for too long can be harmful to your skill level, your neurotransmitters, and your sleep schedule.
How Performance Optimisation Can Help
Video games use up our mental capacity, and gaming performance can be enhanced by improved physical health. Approaching eSports and professional gaming as you would another professional sport will help to address the specific areas that can increase game performance, as well as overall quality of life.