June through August are typically some of the worst months in gaming. It's exceedingly hot outside, so you might be tempted to stay in doors, but how are you going to find anything to play? Here are some steps you can take to keep cool, play games, and have fun with the digital pasttime.
Beat back the backlog.
This is probably one of those no-brainer tips, but we have to get it out of the way. While you're waiting around for all the fall blockbusters, it's time to tackle the games that got left behind. Maybe you didn't finish that one title you were really excited about when it launched. Maybe you never opened a game because you bought it on sale. Maybe you have a Steam account—you know how those libraries get after a Humble Indie Bundle.
Create a schedule for yourself. Try to finish a game within a set time period. Take a full day and dedicate it to one title to squeeze out everything it's got left in it. Remove Modern Warfare or whatever multiplayer fare you've got in your disc tray and try to get to that final boss fight.
Beating a game can offer so much more satisfaction than a high score or victory in a multiplayer-focused title. Don't let the immediate gratification of competitive gaming dissuade you from the higher achievement (including those high-value Achievements).
Play with friends.
People have time off. If you're in school, there is plenty of people just like you with more time than they know how to handle. Being at home during the summer can get really lazy, and gaming is great for that kind of attitude, but that doesn't mean you can't socialize while you're at it.
Yes, this is counterintuitive to the first tip I said above, but knock back a few beers (or soda, I don't know how old you are) and get rowdy. Play Super Smash Bros Melee. Haul that analog TV to a friend's house and have an old-school Xbox LAN party. Or take your desktop and have an actual LAN party.
Getting face to face with people is fun gaming. I played a ton of Xbox Live in college because my group of friends was spread out all over California. When we were at home, it was time for split-screen.
Next: The Road and You, Catching Some Air….
Don't forget to bring a handheld!
OK, he's playing a console, whatever.
If you're headed to the beach or some other wilderness retreat, it's probably not a good idea to bring your shiny new PlayStation Vita or 3DS with you. At least throw it in the backseat, so you have something to do on the car ride.
Summer presents a wealth of opportunities for portable gaming. They say the handheld is dead, but those assholes are wrong! LONG LIVE THE GAME BOY!
I know many of us are lapsed handheld gamers without the funds for the shiny new toys, but what about your old Game Boy, Advance, SP, or DS? Or be one of those hipster kids with a Sega Game Gear. I don't care what you have, just make sure to bring it with you. Handhelds are invariably valuable when you don't think you would need one but find yourself with a little time waiting in line at the theme park or in the backseat of someone's car.
The newer consoles are extremely susceptible to heat. If you've got a fat PS3 or an original Xbox 360, you can kiss your baby goodbye as it melts and has a heart attack in a summer heat wave. The same goes for high-end gaming PCs. These things suck a ton of power and generate a ton of heat.
Make sure your vents and fans are clear and there's nothing obstructing the flow of air. Pull that 360 out of the entertainment console and set it out on top.
Have fans pointed everywhere. Get the air circulating around you and your gaming hardware. God knows you're not playing Kinect, so make sure that as you sit still on the couch, you at least have some fresh air rotating around you. Gaming is no fun if you're sweating out your body weight or if your console dies.
Next: Big Gulp of Classic Coke….
Another no-brainer: replenish your bodily fluids. Unless you run your air-conditioner like you live an igloo (or you really do live in an igloo), you need to keep yourself refreshed.
Maybe you like to munch on snacks while you're gaming. Summertime is not a time to eat. It's a time to drink. Make yourself some fruity drink you'd never order in a bar or crack open a can of soda (it's not called fucking pop, okay, it's SODA). Don't forget that nothing beats ice-cold water. [Especially if you want to stay trim. ~Ed. Nick]
I'm not saying that lemonade tastes good when it's nearly frozen. I'm saying it tastes DELICIOUS, so do that.
[I happen to like cracking open a coconut and drinking the fresh juice plus eating the pulp with a spoon for dessert. Either that or straight-up watermelon juice. ~Ed. Nick]
Yes you do. Go old-school. Dig out the Nintendo 64, the Sega Genesis, the PS1. You'd be surprised how far your back catalogue reaches. I know I haven't gotten gold on every race in Diddy Kong Racing. Maybe another playthrough of Metal Gear Solid or Final Fantasy VIII would satiate your gaming thirst this summer? Play Sonic the Hedgehog 3, a good Sonic game for a change.
Classic gaming holds an inherent joy that modern games can't seem to capture. Sitting cross-legged on the floor in front of an analog TV set might transport you out of the summer gaming drought and into another time entirely. Just make sure to dust everything off before you plug it in and enjoy.
So there aren't too many new games to play. So what? Hopefully you'll be able to conquer your mountain of unfinished software, keep your consoles alive, and even revisit a few classics with friends. Welcome to summer!