Can Running Kick Start your Competitive Game?

I just got back from a run.  And by just got back I mean I got back to the house, laid on the floor for 15 minutes and then wiped the sweat that was still pouring off of me.  Then I played a game of StarCraft II and now I am writing this post.  But the interesting thing is, the game of StarCraft II was one of my best games yet.  This begs the question, is there a connection between exercising and competitive gaming?

I should also note that I am terrible at StarCraft.  I used to really hate the idea of Real Time Strategy games, so I have little experience with the genre, but I am certainly learning.  The best piece of advice I have read is: the only way to get better is to practice. So right now my APM hovers around 26 and I am often stuck reading the build details to find out what certain units do, which buildings produce what, and so on.  However, if the only way to get better is to practice, then this may further support my theory of running to kick start your competitive game.

Games like StarCraft rely heavily on skill and knowledge in order to be successful.  How quickly you can make command decisions and use the mouse and keyboard in order to control your units separates players.  This physical ability is where I draw the connection to exercise.  My exercise of choice just happens to be running.  Your StarCraft II ability will improve as your improve your physical state.  There may be a point where the returns diminish, and I do not mean to discount actual time spent playing the game, but there is certainly a connection to be made.

I do not claim to be the first person to make the connection between exercise and video gaming.  However, as a blog focused on improving the way you game, lifestyle choices may be something that we explore from time to time.  As games move from a mere experience to a platform/service I have seen an increase in the time devoted to certain content and a decrease in the variety of content consumed.  Where I used to compare games to movies, books, and television;  I now compare video games to sports like track and field or soccer.

As a former collegiate track and field coach, I can use that experience to help you improve your gaming experience.  Exercising daily effects your focus.  It is great to take a break from a long gaming session and go for a run. This helps to clear your mind from some of the clutter of everyday life and may allow you to return to the game with renewed vigor.

Competitive gaming requires a certain focus.  Playing through the story of the next Assassin’s Creed game may be a more casual affair.  Compare that to the high energy and quick reflexes required from a competitive game in the Crucible in Destiny.  If you lose your cool during a game of crucible, then you will spiral into a mode of making bad decisions, instead of level headed thinking and reassessing the situation as it comes.  This may be a slippery slope fallacy, but I hope it gets my point across.

I often lose my cool when gaming.  However, I do think that burning off some of that energy through exercise does help me keep a cool head.  I might be playing some Destiny tonight, so I will keep this blog updated with how I game.

I want to game better.  I want you to game better.  When I play against people that are better than myself, it forces me to react.  The way I see it, there are two ways to react to a challenge, with anger or with adaptability.  Adaptability is preferred here.

Spoon Deep Gaming is all about improving your game.  Games are becoming more and more like sports, especially with the rise of eSports. StarCraft, League of Legends, Call of Duty, etc.  The number of games played competitively for money is expanding.  This positive press and media attention will hopefully expand the number of gamers around the world, which benefits all of us.  These new players might need some tips on how to be competitive, look no further than Spoon Deep Gaming.  Hopefully we bring back a podcast soon.

I hope to keep exploring this topic, with strategies on how to improve mental toughness and focus while gaming.  I may even explore proper gaming posture and some wrist/hand exercises.

TL;DR.  This article has been a little bit of a ramble, but if you scrolled to the bottom for some nugget of wisdom here it is.  Competitive gaming takes physical skill as well as mental dexterity.  Therefore, regular exercising will help keep your muscles fresh and ready for long bouts in a computer chair, as well as keeping your mind fresh and ready to adapt to new opponents.  Just don’t lose your cool.  And don’t forget to stretch.

See you online and on the trails.

Jake aka prettyboy

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