Gaming takes the player to another world, but without a decent real-world setup, you can’t have a truly immersive gaming experience.
In the game, the player assumes a new identity. You can be a warrior or an explorer. You can build a universe, move between dimensions or design cities. In the virtual world, the limits of our body are radically changed. Wheelchair users can walk. Each of us can fly. But nobody can actually leave their physical body. We just have to make them comfortable so we can forget about them for a while. This is where interior design comes into play.
Gaming is a fantasy experience, but it takes place in a real space.
Building a playful environment lies at the intersection of interior design and engineering. Technology is more important, but layout, lighting and furniture all play a role. A strong and reliable internet connection is key. Likewise, a laptop, PC or console up to the task.
Other factors are more design related. Let’s start with the player. The stereotypical gamer is a young, introverted, headset-wearing male playing from a bedroom in his parents’ house. The reality is much more differentiated. “Gaming is growing to such an extent in Ireland that we now have our own games hub in our stores,” says Harvey Norman’s Sanjay Satheesan.
“During the pandemic, many companies gave their employees money to buy high-end laptops to work from home. They buy laptops that they can use for work but also for gaming. I call them the invisible players. They are business people by day and gamers by night.”
Invisible gamers are adults, employed, and include a significant minority of female gamers. They play on company laptops rather than consoles and generally use the same space for gaming as they do for work.
The part of the office visible during video calls looks professional. The same goes for the laptop, which can also be taken into the office. In the evening, the same workhorse laptop that secretly packs a powerful graphics card turns into a gaming device. Connected to a huge monitor with RGB keyboard, backlit and programmable to create custom colors, it becomes a portal to another world.
“People spend a lot on the add-ons,” says Satheesan. For example, you might pay €109.90 for a Razer Blackwidow V3 Tenkeyless Gaming Keyboard; €49.90 for a Razer Kraken X wired on-ear gaming headset; and €54.95 for Razer Basilisk X HyperSpeed Wireless Gaming Mouse by Harvey Norman. It all adds up.
If your goal is to turn a home office into a gaming scenario, your best bet is to change the lighting. This is an area where previously expensive and cumbersome technology is quickly entering the mainstream. The new Philips Hue Play Gradient Light Strip is specially designed for gaming. It attaches to the back of a monitor like a flexible halo and creates multiple colors of light that flow into one another. The lights are not random but can be programmed to sync with the on-screen action.
“We already have a gradient light strip,” says Giuliano Ghidini of Signify, the company that now makes lights under the Philips brand. “This one is tailored for gamers. Since Covid-19, most gamers work on the same PC they use for their daily work, and lighting is a way to make where you work very different from where you have fun. It heralds the gaming experience across the room.”
As with many new technologies, PC Gaming’s Lightstrip requires an app. In this case, the Hue Sync PC app allows you to sync with what’s happening on the screen. If you have other Philips Hue products, they can also be programmed to sync with the game.
George Russell, a gamer who also works with Signify, explains how the PC light bar works in practice. “I was playing a car chase game with police lights and all the lights in the room were flashing red and blue!”
The basic range of Philips Hue light strips is widely available (€89.99 for a 2m light strip from Currys), the new PC Gaming light strip has launched in the UK but is still available in Ireland. If it drops, expect to pay around €150 for a kit for a 24- to 27-inch monitor, and around €195 for a starter kit that includes a Philips Hue bridge that lets you connect and control multiple lights.
The basic requirements of the desk and chair seem mundane compared to the dizzying possibilities of synchronized lighting, but the entire setup hinges on ergonomics.
“The biggest mistake people make is ignoring posture,” adds Russell. If your workspace doubles as a gaming den, then having a decent desk, preferably a height-adjustable one, and the best chair you can afford is doubly important.
His comes from Secretlab, a company that specializes in ergonomically convincing gaming chairs. Their bestsellers hover around the 500 euro mark, although you can pay up to 800 euros for a Secretlab Titan 2020 in leather. Some are themed for popular games, from Assassin’s Creed to Overwatch, which is fun but will surely give you away as an invisible gamer if your boss spots the branding on a Zoom call. Apart from that, the ergonomic requirements for a work chair and a gaming chair are similar. One chair will do for both.
On the accessibility side, it’s been a year since Ikea launched the Uppspel range of gaming furniture and accessories, developed in partnership with Republic of Gamers (ROG), a company that makes hardware for PC games. manufactures games. It includes a gaming desk, storage unit, breadboard and accessories, display case and CPU stand with wheels (€19).
The gaming table (from 550 euros) is height-adjustable, simple in design and functional. It is designed to work in harmony with Ikea’s extensive range for gamers, which includes several gaming chairs. As with all Ikea products, the best value for money is not necessarily the cheapest. The Matchspel gaming chair (€179) is their best seller, and probably for good reason. It offers decent support and looks the part.
Ikea also has some fun accessories, including the Lånespelare ring light with phone holder (€40) for twitching (live video game streaming) and an accessory stand (€29) in the shape of a posable robotic hand. Time will tell if it’s ridiculous or iconic. I tend to be iconic.
See harveynorman.ie, secretlab.eu, philips-hue.com, signify.com, ikea.com/ie
https://www.independent.ie/life/home-garden/interiors/ready-player-one-real-world-setups-for-gamers-42010646.html Ready Player One: real setups for gamers