A Good Connection

Why Is Gaming Lag Still A Problem With Fast Internet?

by Leo Wiita

So you've got the fastest Internet available in your area. Downloads are quick, especially when it comes to downloading games and updates. Unfortunately, whenever you try to play a game, it seems like everything is going wrong with the consistency. People run in place, you shoot dead on target with no results, and when everything starts moving, your character is suddenly on the ground filled with either bullets, arrows, or charred by dragon's fire. If you're confused about speed not fixing your gaming lag problems, here's a few details about the issue that could help.

What Exactly Is Lag?

Before going deep into the internet issues, it's important to clear up the difference between two equally annoying situations: graphics lag and network lag.

Most of the advice will cover network lag, as it involves how the internet (a global network made of many other networks) transfers information between your computer and your gamer's server(s). The other form of lag involves your computer's performance.

Like any other program, an online game has certain resource requirements. Your processor has to be fast enough, you need enough memory, your video card has to be up to the task and a few other specifications (specs) need to be met. It can get complicated, but you just need to meet your game's system requirements. There are even services out there that can tell you if your computer can run a game, and what's needed if your system isn't up to industry expectations.

If your computer isn't fast enough because of weak parts, or if there's something running on your computer that competes for resources (an anti-virus scan, an update, another program, or even a virus you don't know about), game-play can become choppy. The quality goes down and can even become unplayable because there simply aren't enough resources.

With network lag, the computer won't become choppy and unresponsive. If your computer is up to the task, game-play will be quite fluid-looking in terms of appearance and smoothness--your abilities, gunshots and other actions simply won't execute properly. 

What About Networking Lag?

Speed isn't the only concern when it comes to online gaming. You have to get the right types of information to the right destination on time. When you increase your internet "speed", you're actually increasing the capacity; unless you switch companies or use an entirely new technology (dial up to cable, for example), you're using the same cabling and infrastructure. What you're actually paying for is the ability to download more information at the same time.

The files used to transfer information for online games are actually quite small. Every game is different, but if you were to observe your data usage while playing a game (such as the desperate situation of using a mobile phone's data plan to connect), the transfer of information isn't as large as downloading a movie, game or music at maximum speed.

Instead, your connection has to be consistent. Consistency problems happen if your modem has errors that cause the packets of information sent from your computer to become corrupted, or if the actual wiring and infrastructure from you to your Internet Service Provider (ISP) are degraded. There could even be deeper issues beyond your ISP's connection with you and the internet at large.

If you're unsure about your internet's consistency and need a bit more help figuring out the source of lag issues, contact different Internet Service Providers to discuss your situation, examine your game-play and find a personally-tailored solution.