There are many scientific reasons and many reasons why video games make me tired. Some of the reasons are issues with visual processing, fatigue caused by lack of sleep, and balance issues.
Many of the game visuals are just part of the human ability to work around dysreflexia. Remember I said the hyperrealistic visual processing of the world was only a problem if you were trying to use your eyes in a sense.
Let's talk about why video games make me tired
A game’s graphics are naturally blurry to some degree, but once in a while, you see a new game that does not have this problem.
For these games, the blurriness is appropriate. This doesn’t happen often.
This same blurriness doesn't happen on television. You see the screen just fine.
The way your brain works is that your eyes focus on the center of the screen, then adjust to get used to the information.
It’s also in your brain to stop focusing on things on the periphery if you’re looking at something where the visual information is still fuzzy.
The solution for many users is to just lower the contrast of the display. That’s fine, but the problem is if you want to play your game in a dark room.
This is a problem if you live in a warmer climate.
The way the brain works is that it uses the body temperature to get the best signal from the eyes.
If you’re in a room heated to about 80F, your brain will respond to the fuzzy environment by lowering the temperature of your brain.
This is a problem. If you’re out of the house and playing a game in a very comfortable environment, your brain will respond correctly and the game will look pretty.
Here’s the solution to this problem:
On consoles, you can turn off the thermal vision. On PC, it’s much more difficult.
I believe this is why, for the life of me, Halo 3 had the controversial ability to turn off thermal vision in a single player.
The solution is to turn off one of the three infrared cameras in the headset.
Turning them all off makes your eyes feel hot. The solution is quite simple: do not play your game in the daytime!
Now you’re going to look at me like I’m crazy, but this is something I’ve done since I was a kid.
When I was a kid, I would get home from school and play at night, turning off all of the lights.
I knew from experience that it would make me feel better. Later on, when I owned a stereo store, I would play Tetris or video games and drive all night long.
When I lived in Germany, I would go out to a club and go straight to bed when I got back. Once I was home, I would not do any further work. I would sleep for 12 hours and it would be fine.
The video game lights made me so tired that I slept, so I would simply turn them off. This way, I was able to play the game and rest my eyes without having to put them through some completely artificial experience.
The same is true for video games. If you’re gaming at night, turn off the external lighting.
When the sun comes up, you will feel much better. I’m not even talking about light sensitivity here.
You’ll still be able to see the screen. If you want to take this a step further, I will tell you that a later release of mine, Batman: Arkham Asylum, had a control scheme that made you so sick that I refused to test it for people.
I knew this would make them too sick to play.
Of course, this could be solved if we just had higher-quality screens that did not need the “overdrive” that I mentioned.
To me, this seems a completely unrealistic fix. When the contrast of the screen is increased to 100%, it is still quite difficult to see anything.
Just turn the screen down to something like a medium. If you want a really dark experience, go play in the night, but turn down the contrast.
Keep this in mind: in the world of today, you do not need overdrive to play a game.
The standard 30-40 Hz refresh rate of these newer monitors is fine.
As I mentioned, the issue of eye-strain will eventually become less of a problem, but I can understand why gamers want the best, most immersive experience possible.
A refresh rate of 60 Hz just doesn’t cut it.
One last thing:
Most gamers are completely fine with the PlayStation Move or Kinect. These two systems use different tracking technology.
Move uses IR and the Kinect uses optical tracking. The difference is subtle, but it is very useful when you use both.
Move uses a much smaller area of the hand to track a wrist, whereas Kinect uses a much larger area to track a whole body. It’s pretty easy to notice this difference.
The move would be great if you are playing a game that requires the player to be completely still, but using Kinect will not allow you to do this.
If you want to play a seated game, then you’ll want to use Kinect.
This brings me to another point. Playing seated at home, Move will be perfect.
But when you get in your car, you want to be able to move your body while driving. To do this, you would use the Kinect.
There are still problems with depth perception in motion-based games, so Motion controls are not going to work well.
With that being said, if you already have some sort of a peripheral with optical tracking (for instance, Wii Balance Board), you might as well get Kinect and get the same benefits.
I’ll close out this section with a reminder. Video games are fun.
It is possible to play them without getting sick.
However, it’s difficult. I do not play games anymore. It takes too much focus.