In these unprecedented times, it seems that almost every aspect of our lives is subject to near-constant uncertainty and change. There seems to be only one thing we can be truly certain of; for the coming weeks the vast majority of us are about to be spending a lot more of our time safely stowed indoors. Without access to the outside world, and much more free time, most of us are now struggling to find new ways to keep ourselves entertained.
The obvious solution is to incorporate video-games into our daily routines. Games provide essential mental stimulation which can keep your brain in gear over this period of prolonged inactivity, they can be of great educational value and even allow you to socialise with others in a fulfilling way which importantly runs no risk of breaking social distancing guidelines.
This guide aims to help make the wonderful world of PC video-games open to everyone and by following these simple steps you should be able to game like a pro in no time!
1. Find out which games you want to play
There are a huge variety of games available from countless genres. Although this may seem overwhelming at first, a quick web search can show you a long list of games per genre and below we have listed some of the more popular types of game to get you started.
Just a side note: for users who only have access to a laptop computer with a track-pad, I would highly recommend investing in a cheap USB mouse if you do not already have one. Most games simply require more precise control than what is offered by most track-pads.
Once you have a list of a few titles you want to try or even just a rough idea of the type of games you want to play, you can move on to the next step.
2. Check which games you can run
It’s a common misconception that you need a purpose built “gaming PC” to play any games. Although some gamers opt to build a customised computer from scratch, most mid-range systems bought directly from a high-street retailer are surprisingly powerful nowadays, and can play a decent range of titles out of the box.
The ‘Can you run it‘ tool from System Requirements Lab is an excellent resource in finding which games you can run on your machine, potentially saving you money on a wasted purchase. Users simply type the name of the game they want to play in the search bar and hit enter. After following the on-screen instructions you are told if your computer meets the “minimum” or “recommended” requirements.
Where you meet the “recommended” spec for a game, you can expect buttery smooth performance at the highest graphical settings. On the other hand, meeting only the “minimum” shows that you can run the game, but it may need some in-game options tweaking to run smoothly. Where you don’t meet either the “minimum” or “recommended” requirements, it’s unlikely the game will run properly, so it’s best to stay away!
If you’re having no luck and can’t meet the required specification for any of your selected titles, below we have some examples of popular games which are optimised to run on particularly low-spec machines. If any of these catch your eye, you can do a quick online search to find their official sites to find out more.
3. Download launchers and buy your games
Most games need a “launcher”; a unified hub which allows you to buy and run your games, collect achievements to monitor your progress and interact with other users over social features. The most popular video-game launcher is Steam, although there are alternatives such as Uplay, Origin, Battle.net and the Epic Games Store. Each launcher offers a slightly different experience and selection of games, although most carry similar basic features it is still worth checking whether the game you want is locked to a specific launcher to avoid wasting time downloading unnecessary programs.
All launchers require individual accounts, and it’s worth trying to make these accounts as secure as possible. Follow password length recommendations and make sure your accounts are tied to a secure email so that you can recover if necessary.
Once you have your launcher set up, you can navigate through digital storefronts and finally start buying your games!
4. Try free titles and look for giveaways
If you’re not keen on spending any money on games, the online gaming retailer GOG is generously offering a selection of classic games for free specifically to be enjoyed by individuals who are in isolation! Alternatively, you can keep your eye out for other free giveaways through the freegames subreddit; an online forum where users keep each other up to date on current game giveaways.
If you’re willing to spend a little bit of cash, you can follow our up-to-date guide on how to find the very best deals on your games.
5. Above all else follow NHS advice – stay at home, save lives
Although for some it may feel like it, being told to stay at home is not a holiday. Be responsible and remember to check the changing NHS guidelines.
For your own well-being and the well-being of others, always follow the current government advice.
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