5: Buy nice headphones
Surround is lovely, especially if you can afford to turn it up loud. But you’re an adult. You have neighbours. And probably a family. And they won’t necessarily enjoy hearing the sounds of World War 6 bleeding through the walls. Buy the comfiest pair of headphones money can buy. Plug them into your TV’s headphone socket rather than trying to connect them to your console. For two reasons. One, if you don’t there’s every chance that the TV sound will carry on blaring into the room. And Two: we won’t be using our microphones…
6: Cut the chat.
As soon as you’re in a game lobby, take a minute to mute every player. Trust me, you don’t want to hear what they’ve got to say. If you play too well, they’ll have something unkind to say. If you play too badly, it’s worse. It would be lovely to think that there would be nothing but constructive tactical team talk over the in-game comms, but that’s not how the younger players generally roll. Plus, the last thing you want is for the fluting treble of a young boy to suddenly erupt from your state-of-the-art surround system when you’re on the phone to your boss explaining why you’re working from home today.
Nobody likes a camper. But this isn’t a social club. It’s war. Or, at least, an imaginary representation of a fictional war using artificially nerfed weapons. Running around like a maniac is by far the most enjoyable way to play Shooters. But with 40 year old reactions your Kill/Death ratio will be hovering around absolute zero if you try that against the under-twelves. Play to your strengths. You’re more patient. You’re more sneaky. Chances are you’re cleverer than a Primary School kid. Screw on a silencer. Pick a spot overlooking a high-traffic area, or a dark spot at the end of a corridor. Congratulations, you’re a human IED. And don’t forget rule 6: Mute everybody.
8: Pick the right time of day
If you can be at home during the day, play while the kids are at school. At weekends, don’t fire your console up until 10pm at least. 11pm is better, because then you’ll be guaranteed some easy pickings from the tipsy post-pub crowd. And, whatever you do, don’t go near online multiplayer in the school holidays.
9: Be a team player
If you’re playing objective modes, and once you’re over 30 you should be, go for team wins rather than personal glory. Support killstreaks are not only more likely to benefit your teammates, they’re also easier for older, that is to say less able, players to achieve. It’d be great to think you’ll be scoring KEM strikes and Lokis every game. But faced with opposition from the CBBC generation, your chances are slim. Besides: the little sidekick with the riot shield is not only a more achievable goal, he’s kind of hilarious too.
10: Be philosophical
We’re not playing this game to be the best in the world. The guy who actually is the best in the world probably doesn’t do anything else. You wouldn’t actually want to be that guy. Not really. You’re playing a game to have fun and maybe burn off a little of the day’s tension. If the kids really want to run up behind you with a shotgun and then tea-bag your twitching corpse, let them. Once the game’s over, you’re the only one that’s allowed to have beer and crisps for supper. Their Mums are making them have broccoli. It’s almost worth switching the chat back on to remind them of that.