Gaming has come a long way from the days of geeky guys in their parents’ basements, with the video games industry now worth over £120bn ($155bn) and titled enjoyed by more than two billion people each year. The vast majority of these people play games for fun and to fill time on their smartphones, which have become ubiquitous over the last decade. Nonetheless, gaming is the most popular form of entertainment around the world today, with the industry worth more than the film, TV, and music industries combined, and for and for a select few people gaming has become a career, with the best esports players earning millions in prize money and sponsorship deals.
Whether you just want to play Call of Duty with your friends or are looking to improve your skills to one day compete on the world stage, there are a few pieces of kit that you should invest in.
Gaming is an increasingly immersive experience and whilst most people may focus on the graphics and gameplay, audio has a crucial role. Speakers can be good, but players really wan to be able to shut out the world and focus on their game, chatting with teammates and listening the the game FX and soundtrack, and so a headset is a good place to start.
Ideally the headset will offer 3D audio, to give the impression of spatial awareness within the game, but also offer clear vocals for chatting with friends and good bass for the music, with popular options on the market including the HyperX Cloud Alpha, Steelseries Arctis 9, and Razer BlackShark V2.
As video games have developed with better graphics, more expansive gameplay and higher quality audio, the sizes of the files have grown exponentially. A couple of decades ago entire games needed to fit onto a single 1.44 MB floppy disk, but with most games now downloaded from the cloud some are over 150GB in size, 100,000 times larger!
Some games can be streamed and require little space and to play free slot games no download is required, but for most AAA titles today you will need a fast internet connection to download the files and some external storage to keep the files secure. The upcoming PS5 and Xbox Series X are both expected to offer around 1TB of storage built-in and PCs can add as much storage as your like, but with games only increasing in size that may only be sufficient for a handful of titles and gamers may find themselves looking to buy external storage. Luckily, external hard drives have come down in price significantly in recent years, and you can pick up a 5TB external drive for under £100 from brands such as Western Digital and Seagate.
Regular computer keyboards will work ok for controlling a game, but specialised gaming keyboards not only look and sound better, but can offer some significant advantages to gamers looking to taker every advantage.
Gaming keyboards will often be quieter to use and come with adjustable RGB lighting, split keys for comfort, and most importantly include macro programming abilities that can be customised for each game. Everyone has a different taste when it comes to keyboards, but the HyperX Alloy Elite RGB, Corsair K95 RGB Platinum, and Razer Cynosa Chroma are great choices this year.
You can hook up your gaming rig or console to almost any modern television or monitor via HDMI, but for the best experience you should be experiencing AAA titles on a FHD+ display and 165Hz refresh rate.
Most gamers choose displays around somewhere between 25″ – 29″ in size, and whilst 4K is something that one might look into investing in for the future, few titles and even fewer gaming rigs will be able to output a decent frame-rate at such a high resolution. The Asus ROG Swift PG279Q and Acer Predator XB271HU are two of the best options on the market today with their 2560 x 1440 WQHD displays, but for those looking for 4K then the LG 27GN950-B is the fastest and most responsive option.
It is not just the console of gaming rig that creates the perfect setup, but with the right headset, keyboard, and monitor any gamer should be off to a good start.