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To gamers, lag is a dirty word. It frustrates us to no end and is usually the reason behind many broken controllers. Lag is a curse from the fiery depths of gaming hell, yet I’m about to tell you why it’s actually a good thing. Well, sort of.
During high school, I was one of the worst Halo players you would ever see. When my friends and I played, I would average around two kills per match. Most of the time, I just rode around in vehicles trying to avoid confrontation. I would consider four kills a good performance, but I would also die a lot. My character would average about 15 deaths per game, which obviously made my kill-death ratio pretty bad.
Then I went to college.
I went to a small school in the middle of West Virginia, and well, people don’t have a whole lot to do there except getting drunk and playing video games. Also, my college didn’t feel that a good wireless Internet connection for the student body was much of a priority.
But I played anyway. For three years, I fought through red-bar internet connections and debilitating lag where it looked like my opponent was running straight into a wall over and over until I’d randomly drop dead. On most days, multiplayer wasn’t fun.
Over time, I eventually adapted to the lag and began trying to anticipate where I thought my enemies would be instead of reacting to where they were. My friends and I got so good at this that the strategy started working. We won a few games and began to call ourselves “the best lag players in the nation.”
Then, something happened that I didn’t expect.
My college expanded a lot in the three years I’d been there, and suddenly, it decided that a good wireless Internet connection was a good idea.
When I played my first game with the good connection, the difference was incredible. I was playing like a seasoned Halo vet, anticipating my enemies’ moves with perfect accuracy.
I had become good at Halo without realizing it.
Now, I average anywhere from 14 to 18 kills a game, and I get killed a lot less often than before. I don’t just ride around in vehicles trying to avoid people. I go looking for my enemies. Lag taught me how to predict my opponent’s actions, and it made me a deadlier Spartan.
So next time you start to curse out your twitching on-screen avatar, remember my story.
I transformed from a laughable newb into, in my opinion, a pretty darn good Halo player.
And I owe it all to lag.
Follow me on Twitter @thyjordo.