Video games are not just for kids or reclusive teenagers. According to the Entertainment Software Association (ESA), there are now a total 226.6 million video game players in the U.S. of all ages, growing nearly 6 percent from 214.4 million in 2020. Because of the pandemic, that number is 30 percent higher than it was in 2019. This sudden increase also means that integrators are seeing more requests for spaces that cater to this activity.
Especially as a result of the pandemic, video games have become a source of stress relief and a way to connect with family and friends, as well as pure entertainment. This also means that time spent doing other digital activities — like watching TV, browsing the internet or engaging on social media — has been reduced. Integrators and manufacturers are watching this trend closely to see how to best accommodate clients requesting gaming rooms. Here are our top tips for creating this type of space:
1. Get Personal
Any athlete will tell you that the equipment they use for their sport is very individualized. It’s the same for gaming. Some gamers stick to one type of console (PlayStation, Xbox, etc.) while often others have multiple. They want to be comfortable for the many hours they might spend in one position. It’s the designer or integrator’s job to find the most comfortable furniture for the client to sit or recline in, what lighting will ensure the gaming screen is easy to see but doesn’t strain the client’s eyes and how the air will feel in the space.
2. Establish The Most Important Component
While there are some games that can be played completely solo, the majority of games are meant to be played with others and over the internet. The best way to make this experience better is of course to give the client an excellent connection.
“A straight hardwired connection is the way to go,” said Tom Clancy, executive vice president of Audio Command Systems.
According to Clancy, one of the biggest challenges with this is the range of the controller to the console and connecting that router to the Ethernet cable. The range of the PlayStation technology is 50-100 feet, while the range for wireless controllers for Xbox is only 19 to 28 feet, which is something to consider when hardwiring a system that cannot be easily moved or hidden.
3. Find the Best Monitor for Their Sport
Plan to find out where their priorities lie. A professional esports player — one who might make money streaming their plays over social media, for example — will want the fastest response time, and might even be willing to sacrifice resolution on their own screen for it. However, most casual players want high-quality video, with the typical average for reactivity at is a 120-140 Hertz refresh rate. The top tier is typically 4K TVs, as most games are not quite up to par with 8K yet. High-end models usually offer gaming features like variable refresh rate (VRR) support, as well as an Auto Low Latency Mode, which automatically switches the TV into Game Mode when a game is launched from a compatible device for low input lag.
Computer monitors are also something to consider, if your client prefers this type of game. Most high-end gaming monitors have a fast response time that produces very little motion blur, and variable refresh rate (VRR) support and HDMI 2.1 bandwidth are also options on these to improve the experience. It all depends on which games the client prefers, since some do better with more resolution, less reactivity, or vice versa.
Clients might want more than one screen as well, especially if there are multiple people playing different games at the same time, or if they want to play the same game from two different perspectives.
4. Create Immersive Sound
The best video game experience is the one that brings the player into the world they are playing in. Fortunately for integrators just entering this market, the audio for these rooms is similar to that of a home theater. According to Michael Short, global marketing director, residential and marine at Crestron, while the same subwoofers and speakers can be installed in these spaces, it is also important to consider a technology that will allow for a “gaming mode.”
“It’s not just about what’s on the screen, it’s also about what it sounds like and how perfectly you curate that space,” said Short, adding that it is also a consideration whether the client wants to distribute sound from the game room throughout the house.
Headphones and extra microphones are something typically integrators rely on their clients to choose for themselves, as this can be a deeply personal choice for gamers.
What’s Coming Next for E-Gaming Rooms
The room solely devoted to gaming is probably not a trend, but the multi-purpose room with gaming capabilities definitely is. Clients are leaning towards a cleaner concept for these spaces, as Oculus and virtual reality games slowly but surely grow and need open spaces to play. 8K will be on the horizon soon, although games still have a ways to go to catch up to this resolution.
The biggest trend is the growing social aspect of video games. Especially as colleges — such as Miami University, which has a dedicated esports lounge and arena — start offering scholarships and incentives for students to play, parents and homeowners will show more interest in video games and their potential to bring people together.