You hear a lot of online players talking about ping and how their ping is too high. What does ping mean in gaming and what is a high or low ping? There seems to never be a clear answer and very few can explain what ping means or how it works. If you are not interested in the explanation and why it happens, you might as well just skip what comes next and perform a ping test to check your connectivity with various locations across the globe. If you do want to find out more, stick around and the mysteries of how ping works and why it matters will be unveiled.
Why Ping Is So Important for Online Games?
What is Ping?
In networking, a ping is a unit of measure that determines how long it takes for your computer to send a packet of data to a destination and how long it takes for you to receive a packet from the same destination. Simply put, ping tells you the time for the round trip of a packet. The ping does not determine how much data can be transferred. You may have a gigabit connection and may be able to download with 10 MB per second or more but you may still have an abnormally high ping.
Why Ping Matters in Gaming
Now that we know what ping is, we need to understand what does ping means in gaming. In gaming, there is a concept called input lag. It measures the time between the moment a player sent an input to the game client and how long it takes for the character to perform that movement. As all actions a player does in an online game need to be coordinated with a server or destination server for the game, ping begins to play an important role.
In gaming, how much bandwidth your internet has does not matter. Most games only transfer a few kilobytes per second. This is peanuts compared to what transfer rates more internet service providers offer these days. What matters is the ping. The ping needs to be low as it reduces input lag. This means that a low ping would make your actions reflect in the game with a delay that is almost impossible to perceive. In online games, this is the ideal situation. If your ping increases, input lag increases, making the game not only annoying to play but almost impossible in highly competitive games.
What Influences Your Ping
Several things can increase your ping. Some of these things can be caused by you, can be solved by you, or are completely independent.
An example of why ping can increase is if you have applications running that eat up your bandwidth. For example, if you are downloading multiple files at the same time, ping will increase as the game will have to wait its turn to send packets to the game server. This is the first thing that you can check if you notice a high ping.
Another reason for high ping can be operator system-related and may be temporary. It is not uncommon to see high ping on a computer that had an uptime of several days. A simple computer restart can lower your ping if the drivers loaded into the memory got corrupted or you had background applications that were hogging your resources.
Sometimes, your ping can be high for reasons that are beyond your reach. For example, your ISP may have poor peering with the game server or may send the packets on a weird route that increases your ping. A VPN may help but it is not a guaranteed fix.
Lastly, high ping can also be caused by a bad router. If it is a software issue, it may be fixed with a simple reboot. If it is a hardware problem, you may need to replace your router.
By now, it should be clear what does ping means in gaming. A high ping is a gamer’s worst nightmare. Any of the above-mentioned reasons can be the source of the problem. Identifying where the problem is taking a bit of troubleshooting but you should always start with a computer and router reboot. Additionally, you can perform a ping test to check the status of your internet connection. Running such a test can tell you if your ISP is the problem.