Ready, Set, Game!!!
Author :        Date : 19-Oct-09

I don’t know about you, but I tend to be rather ritualistic when preparing for a serious gaming session.  Just like setting the table for dinner, everything has to be set just so prior to my indulgence.  Preparation is paramount in order to fully enjoy my upcoming virtual experience.  Yes, I admit that my OCD tendencies might have some bearing on the extremely structured routine I follow.  I would like to believe I am not an island and that all of us gamers share certain ‘peccadilloes’ in this regard.

Anyway, the following details some of my required groundwork prior to firing up the system and getting lost in the worlds of Oblivion.  Items are listed in the order that they are executed.

Hunt & Gather

The right selection and quantities of munchies and beverages are critical for any gaming tour of duty.  You can’t expect to give it your all while working on an empty tank – you will need to visit the refueling station every now and again to replenish the reserves.

When it comes to munchies, I personally avoid anything that can either ‘crumb’ or that I can indent my fingerprint upon.  The last thing I need is a controller pasted with chocolate residue and lighted ‘flavored’ with potato chip salt.  Also, any food that requires delivery utensils of any kind (i.e. fork) is forbidden in my sick world.  Slim Jims fit the bill for me: easy to eat, the correct portion size, no mess at all – the perfect combination (and tastes pretty good too).  Low maintenance is a key here in choosing my favorite rations.

Regarding fluids, I have been on a continued quest since 1995 to find a suitable replacement for my ultimate gaming beverage of choice – Gatorade Ice Tea.  This drink had it all – excellent flavor, generous portion size (32 oz.) and provided immediate refreshment.  I am a HUGE ice tea fan, but not so much of the aftereffects endured while deeply entrenched in my game.  The continual runs to the john to pay back the piper gets old quick.  I didn’t have to consume great quantities of Gatorade Ice Tea to get the best of both worlds (ice tea flavor and personal rehydration).  Gatorade Frost Glacial Freeze is now my weapon of choice, but still can’t fully replace my long lost gaming friend.
Eliminate Human Contact

Alone time is always optimal when getting involved with the latest release or a cherished classic by oneself.  There is a time for sharing our passion with our family and loved ones, but during a focused gaming session is not one of them.  The last thing I want to hear, in one simple word, is anything.  I have a task at hand forthcoming and human interaction will distract me from my primary mission – mastering the awaiting challenge ahead.

At times this is a pothole that can not be easily avoided.  Family and loved ones always take precedence, that is a given. But on the rare occasion when you have the crib to yourself, you must be prepared to act decisively.  GAMING DEFCON 1 actions need to be immediately enacted.  In other words, my cell phone ringer gets switched to ‘Emergency’ and ‘I Won The Lotto’ modes – all others get the dreaded voicemail.  Yes, I agree that this may be a little extreme.  Tell me I am wrong that you aren’t peeved to no end when your buddy calls to shoot the breeze when you are smack in the middle of a
mob of henchman and fighting for your virtual life.
Adjust Atmospheric Conditions

Proper alignment of your gaming cockpit is a must.  Any serious gamer already has this already in place in their Room of Doom, but still this is something that can never be overlooked and should be addressed.

Seating is critical and I, like most, have my own special gaming chair – a high-back swivel desk chair with an accompanying plush ottoman to rest the dogs.  It provides ease of movement along with the proper support for both my arms and neck (especially needed in those marathon sessions).  Personally, I can not stand gaming while having my keister planted on a couch.  I grant you that the sofa is perfectly suited for co-op play and catching the game on a Sunday afternoon, but not so much for extended game play.  As for a loveseat, forget it.  To this very day I truly have no idea what its function is.  I have vowed never to own one.

No set up is complete without the proper gaming side table.  This should be large enough to shoulder your rations and remote, but cheap so you don’t have to worry about using a coaster for your beverage.  No need to spend a million dollars on these either – you can snag one from Wal-Mart for $4.  My lady friend rather hates them since the molded plastic table does not fit in at all with the rest of my décor.  Hmmm…. perfectly coordinated furnishings or a functional piece of equipment?  Sorry honey, you’ll have to live with them.  Last thing to do is to set the lighting low, close all vertical blinds and get into cave-mode.
Don the Garb & Assemble the Mascots

Just like the virtual warrior I am about to become, armor selection is paramount.  Comfort is obviously the key with old baggy clothing usually fitting the bill.  For me, I prefer layering to a degree to give me some flexibility.  My 4 Star Suit of choice is a pair of those cheap woven sleep pants from Target, wool socks, a Haines T-Shirt (have to love the no-tags) and my Mr. Rodgers sweater.  Propping a baseball cap on my melon and I am almost ready to go.

Our support group that accompanies us on our gaming adventure is critical to a successful campaign.  Most of us have one, whether it be a favorite lid for our dome or a funky pair of slippers.  For me it is all about my ‘gaming blankie’.

I have to admit that I was rather relieved at the reaction when I shared this personal fact about myself in a previous article.  To much of my surprise, I found that most could relate, sometimes first hand, and shared some form of this ‘mascot’ tendency.  One person had a sock puppet that always stuck by his side, for another it was a 60 ounce glass stein for his beverages.  Whatever the case, they need to be ready and available to join your efforts.
Game On!!!

A fistful of Slim Jims and a cool Gatorade sit next to me on my $4 table.  My ‘pleather’ desk chair creaks a bit but welcomes back my ever-widening bum as I plop down into position.  My freshly laundered ‘gaming blankie’ is draped loosely across my legs.  Nothing left to do except to get it on!!

I press the center button on my Xbox 360 controller and eagerly await the system screen to begin my assault on the lands of Sacred 2: Fallen Angel.  Nothing. Hmmm…  I press it again, somehow expecting a different result.  Still nothing.   Then it struck me, an oversight of epic proportion.

Batteries for my controller might help….

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