5 tips for a better video game marathon

Gaming marathons are tough - here's a few tips to make yours a little easier.

The annual Extra Life 25-hour video game marathon for charity is right around the corner - just two Saturdays away! If you're planning to join in on Extra Life or any other video game marathon, be warned: it's not just something you can jump into. I mean, you can, but a little bit of planning ahead will help keep you from breaking down halfway through and calling it quits. Here are five bits of advice to help your video game marathon run a little smoother.

5. Stay hydrated!

Dehydration is no fun, and it can seriously mess with your game performance. Even mild dehydration can cause fatigue, headaches, and make it difficult to concentrate. You need to stay sharp if you're going to play games for a long time, so drink up - just try to limit the number of sugary or highly-caffeinated drinks to a minimum.

4. Take BEEF breaks

No, I don't mean chow down on a bunch of burgers (though you can if you want), it's just an acronym. Every hour or so you should pause the game and take a 15-minute break, and try to do the following if you can:

Bathroom - Just do it. Don't be a little kid about this - if you're staying hydrated like I told you, you're going to need to eventually. Better to try now than to suddenly need to go in the middle of a boss fight or something.
Exercise - Do a tiny bit of light exercise. It can be anything you like, as long as it gets your body up and moving for a couple minutes. Exercise will help wake your body up and keep you from developing those deadly blood clots you keep hearing about.
Eat - Make sure you don't forget to work food into your schedule! Try to prepare meals the day before so you can just heat it up if you need to. And if you can, try to stick to healthy snacks like fruits, veggies, or nuts.
Fresh air - Get outside if possible, or just get away from the screen for a few minutes. Your body and mind will thank you later.

3. Take care of your hands

If you're anything like me, you may have trouble with hand pain and cramping during long gaming sessions. If that's the case, try to pay attention to how your hands are feeling, and give them a rest if you need to. If this is a repeated issue for you, a useful tool I've found is those hand support gloves they sell all over the place. They're advertised for serious pain and tendon issues, but they can help with normal hand cramping too. The ones they sell at craft stores tend to be particularly good for gaming, since they usually cover part of the fingers as well.

2. Get friends involved

Whether you're all together in the same room or scattered across the globe, doing a game marathon with friends will be a lot more fun than trying to do it all by yourself. You'll all be able to give each other much-needed moral support during the dark hours of the marathon, and if you're streaming the event it will allow you to keep the stream going even when one of you is taking a break. Besides, the experience may even bring you closer together!

1. Nap if you need to

This may seem to go against the very spirit of a video game marathon, but even the folks running Extra Life recommend putting the game down and getting a little shut-eye if necessary. A little bit of sleep can go a long way - I've had all-nighters where an hour of sleep made the difference between losing my mind and getting things done.

So, are you doing any video game marathons soon? Have any tips that I missed? Have I given terrible advice that will kill us all? Let us know in the comments!

Published Oct. 27th 2015

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