The world of online gaming has created new hobbies and ways to connect with people at the same time. The long and storied saga of Everquest, the expansive World of Warcraft franchise, and a wealth of online survival games, like Ark and H1Z1, have given huge nests of socialization mixed with gameplay. Unfortunately, for almost every online game with universally-accepted "decent" gameplay, there are problems with delays and freezing failures called lag. To understand the problem, fix the issue, and stay prepared for any future lag problems, here's an overview of what lag means.
Lag As An Internet Problem
The original definition standing behind lag in reference to computers comes from the networking world well before online gaming. It means a delay in network performance, which is always a factor. Lag as a problem is harder to pin down, since it means any amount of time that is too long for systems to operate properly.
Online gaming seems to have co-opted the meaning, but online gaming is actually one of the most intricate, user-participated studies in networking out there. Unlike many internet services, online gamers get the most feeling and response when lag is an issue.
The first definition for online gamers is the network lag, meaning that the information between you and the game server is delayed. This is measured by latency in games such as World of Warcraft, CounterStrike, or Call of Duty, and too much lag means that your attacks and movements won't be registered by the game server on time.
Delays in delivery means that even if you reacted on time with your keyboard or mouse, someone acting against you could still get the first strike. You may stand in a dragon's fire for too long even though you clearly evaded on your screen, or you may shoot at an enemy who isn't there, only to find your character dead and heckled after your internet catches up.
Graphics Lag Is A Resource Problem
Another definition of lag comes from not knowing how different forms of lag "feel" for many standard users; lag means any delay, even if it's because their computer can't handle the game's graphics.
Game performance is just as much about graphics as internet packet delivery. To play a game and enjoy it at the developer's basic level, you'll want your Frames Per Second (FPS) to be as high as possible. There's no single number that is perfect for everyone, but shoot for 40 or 50 FPS at bare minimum.
If your computer's processor (also known as central processing unit or CPU) isn't fast enough, it can't calculate the demands of your computer well enough. Your game of choice is a program or application, and like any other program, it takes a slice of the computer's resources to operate. Modern gamers need processors that can handle not only their game, but everything running in the background and sometimes additional programs to multitask while gaming.
For gamers specifically, you'll need a video card that is up to the task. A video card is basically a miniature computer with its own graphics processing unit (GPU, as opposed the CPU) and memory dedicated to graphics performance.
If you're sure that your computer has specifications that match your game's system recommendations, contact an Information Technology (IT) services professional. An IT professional can help you figure out what's going wrong, such as a virus taking up resources, overheating problems, or failures in your internet service path.