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Weekend Open Forum: PC gaming in the living room

By Jos · 26 replies
Jul 10, 2015
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  1. People have been building living room PCs for ages, but recently, thanks in part to Valve’s Steam Machines initiative, it seems more focused efforts are being made by several industry players towards bringing PC gaming to the big screen and couch — console style. You get the expandability and power that consoles can’t offer, more or less the same convenience, and then some compromises too, like dropping the mouse and keyboard in favor of a gamepad.

    In these days of slowing PC sales, gaming remains a strong niche that’s still driving sales, so opening up a ‘new’ category of living room oriented systems presents an interesting opportunity for growth.

    We want to know your take on this: are you interested in moving your PC gaming activities to the living room, either as your main or secondary setup? Or are you comfortable enough the way things are with your desktop rig?

    Permalink to story.

  2. Definitely interested in this moving to the living room! It is the perfect combination of comfort (lazy boy), performance (nice PC rig) and quality (large 1080p or 4K screen).

    Unless I’m playing a RTS game that requires a mouse I would always prefer to be comfortable on a couch with large screen TV than stuck in an office chair looking at a smaller screen.
  3. We want to know your take on this: are you interested in moving your PC gaming activities to the living room, either as your main or secondary setup? Or are you comfortable enough the way things are with your desktop rig?

    I think that this is where gaming is ultimately heading. Consoles have been able to maintain their market by providing people with a cheap living room gaming platform that is simple and comfortable to use. With PCs becoming as powerful as they are without sacrificing size, and developers not able to push technical boundaries due to costs (causing high-end rigs to become less relevant), all that's left is for consoles to finally run out of steam due to their own technical limitations and loss of competitive advantage, which I believe may happen this generation.
  4. WangDangDoodle

    WangDangDoodle TS Addict Posts: 199   +71

    That classic notion of the "living room" is completely antiquated. All my computers are in the living room, and have been for 15 years now. I cut the cord back in 2001 and went 10 years without even owning a TV. I bought a TV about 4 years ago, and I never really use it.

    My friends and I used to gather to do stuff, but then everybody grew up, moved away, married, had kids... and - of course - the internet happened. We don't really take the time to gather anymore. We used to go visit each other to watch movies. Now we're ranting on Skype while syncing up movies on Netflix. We don't really bother with the traveling unless there's a party. When my friends drop by on a rare occasion, we end up sitting on different computers playing online games anyway. If we decide to take a break and watch a movie, I get to use my TV.

    I don't really see a reason for the big screen anymore. It's all relative to how far the screen is from your eyeballs anyway, and I'm much more into in eye-candy experiences like multi monitor setups, extra wide aspect ratios and g-sync. Besides, I'm not a console gamer.

    Today, I've got multiple screen setups in my living room. I have a triple 27" monitor setup, as well as an older pair of 24" monitors on another desk. My main computer has a single 27" g-sync monitor, and I've got that on a mobile desk that I just roll around to which ever screen setup I wish to use. My 40" TV will be replaced by a 34" 21:9 g-sync monitor in due time.

    But, the "living room" isn't all about the screen size, right? It's also about comfort. Enter the DXRacer KING Series gaming chair. Trust me, these things are worth the investment.
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2015
    trgz likes this.
  5. Squid Surprise

    Squid Surprise TS Evangelist Posts: 2,446   +1,440

    My "Living Room" is my basement... have a 1.5 story house that has a 32" TV in the "real living room" that gets watched MAYBE once or twice a month for more than 10 minutes...

    On the other hand, the basement is where all entertaining happens (or outdoors in the backyard where non-electronic entertaining occurs!!)

    I have my PC setup to connect to a 27" 1440p monitor for "work" (see: personal gaming) and also a 50" TV for multiplayer gaming and/or movies. All I needed was a slightly longer HDMI cable to connect my PC from the corner where my desk is to the "front" where my TV is... have bluetooth keyboard/mouse combo (thank you logitech) charging beside my couch so I don't have to walk that incredibly distant 10-12 feet to pause/play my movie...

    I DO have a PS3 also connected - but we only use it for Netflix, and honestly, we only use it because we got it as a wedding present - otherwise my PC would be handling that as well... We also have a Wii - I've taken it to school (I'm a kindergarten teacher) for Just Dance marathons, but otherwise, it collects dust...
  6. WangDangDoodle

    WangDangDoodle TS Addict Posts: 199   +71

    The fact that we're heading into a 4K age and "modern" consoles can't even play games in 1080p may just persuade more people to invest in a computer.
  7. Misagt

    Misagt TS Maniac Posts: 273   +189

    I have a living room although not in the traditional sense. All my computers are in the living room, my wife and I game watch TV and eat there. (very small house) We game on the tv probably 2-3 times a week.
    trgz likes this.
  8. darkzelda

    darkzelda TS Evangelist Posts: 349   +144

    I have an special room in the house I like to call the Gaming room, there I have my desktop PC connected to a 42 inches TV, a wireless keyboard, a big couch and 4 Xbox controllers son I can play with my wife, sons or friends. But also that same PC is connected to a monitor and a proper mouse and keyboard. I also use my PC for watching movies and last but not least, work.
  9. GregPullman

    GregPullman TS Rookie

    We also have a game room, with the pc & ps3 reside. We may get a ps4 soon that will reside in the living room. But I would perfer a bigger better monitor 27 or 3o inch 144 hz.
  10. GeforcerFX

    GeforcerFX TS Evangelist Posts: 849   +352

    I have been able to game in the living room since I got my main laptop back in 2007, I just haul it out there and plug her in, continued that on my next one and have done that since then. I played most of Fallout New Vegas in my living room, as well as most of my time on TDU2. When I need to get work done or if I want to maybe focus more on the game or it requires a ton of very precise mouse movement then desk is preferred(hence why I have a docking station). Also the Logitech K400 is amazing for this and cheap to boot.
  11. vergilangleos

    vergilangleos TS Rookie

    I love this idea , but I'm living with my parents and sometimes I dont want them to see what I'm playing !!
    trgz likes this.
  12. BSim500

    BSim500 TS Evangelist Posts: 599   +1,201

    I tried it, and overall it worked well for some games, but not others for two reasons:-

    1. I play too many games, particularly older "Golden Age" (ie, PC exclusive) games with UI's that are heavily optimized for 2ft view distance + keyb & mouse. Eg, small text size / smaller icons / UI elements in Baldur's Gate, Neverwinter Nights, Deus Ex (original), etc, that look and play way better at 2ft than 6-10ft distances no matter what TV or controller you've got. Dragon Age Origins PC version had 40x quickslots at 1080p and was sheer bliss to play with a mouse. The console / controller based version of the UI is significantly inferior, taking far longer to select some skills / items. You only have to look at modern "controller first" game design to see what sacrifices are needed to "fit" onto a controller (weapon wheels vs one-touch F-key shortcuts, 2 weapon limits, reduction of quickbar sizes in RPG's, no quick/manual save/load, giant icon / UI element sizes that are often not scaled well from 2ft vs 10ft view distances (eg, stupid size 20-30 font inventory lists in vanilla Oblivion / Skyrim that requiring modding with DarnifiedUI / SkyUI to not look completely absurd up close), reduction in pace of FPS games due to slower "thumb scrolling" controller turning speed vs a quick mouse "wrist flick", reduction in depth of strategic / tactical mouse driven menu's in RPG's in favor of actiony controls (DAO's quickbar & tactics menu vs DA2 & DAI), reduction in complexity of RPG's into a more actiony MOBA genre games due to lack of 30-40x one-touch rapid "build/select/formation" keyboard shortcuts, etc).

    Old school RTS's like Age of Empires, Age of Mythology, Rise of Nations, etc, plus some "4X" games like Endless Space, with small icons are hopeless on a TV & controller. Racing games still play the best with a proper steering wheel & pedals, which often requires a desk / table to attach to. Controllers simply cannot replace keyb + mouse for all games regardless of the "it's the future!" hype. Slower paced modern "action adventure" or "cover shooters" work well, but not the faster paced "twitch" FPS, or puzzle / point & click games / RTS's or older pre-cross-platform games with no integral controller support. They may be "playable" with a 3rd party utility that converts controller input to a keyb / mouse simulator, but "playable" is often far from optimal. Someone playing a fast paced twitch is going to get creamed going head to head with a twitch mouse gamer without cheat mode (auto-aim) turned on, as seen again & again, sometimes with scores of over 0:70 kill:loss ratio's. If you only ever play modern post 2012 Ubisoft games, you'll probably be more in luck, but for those of us with a large collection / wide taste in gaming stretching back over 25 years, the "TV experience" is very much "mixed".

    2. I personally found there's also a psychological aspect. Some games "feel" better on a sofa, eg, sports or Wii style party genre games or some slower action adventure like Tomb Raider. But some other genre's (especially stealth / horror genre's) just feel more immersive up close. Games like Thief (originals, not the trashy remake), many horror games, etc, up close to a large high contrast monitor, with the lights out, at night with high quality headphones are way more immersive than flopped out on the sofa from several feet away. Maybe it's down to personal preference, but some games just feel like the closer you are to the screen, leaning forward into the action, the more "into" the game you get. And the more "flopped out" you are from 10ft away, the more disconnected the feel of immersion.

    I gave "living room TV + controller gaming" a fair shot, but many PC games I played just plain worked better on a monitor at 2ft with a keyb & mouse, and after 2 weeks, soon went back to a traditional PC + keyb & mouse setup. There's a whole lot more to it though than just screen size or controller vs mouse on a "well it technical works" level.
  13. I moved to the living room a couple of years ago. I have arthritis problems with my legs, hands, and back so it was time. It's hard to beat kicking back in a comfy recliner. Free Hulu doesn't hurt either. ;)
    The only things that are annoying really are that multiplayer games generally have no aim assist which can be rough and menu navigation and control options in some games can be half baked.
    Im hoping to get a large 4k tv this fall and upgrade my HTPC gpu to atleast a gtx 970 or 980.
    I like the focus on efficency, noise, and heat that a good HTPC build benefits from. I find it much more satisfying actually.
  14. Skidmarksdeluxe

    Skidmarksdeluxe TS Evangelist Posts: 8,647   +3,286

    Forget it. A living room is a living room or a lounge as we call it. I don't even have a TV in it but I do have a games/recreation room which opens up to the pool/bbq area and in it there's a pub, pool table, big TV, dartboard, PC (not used for gaming) and a PS3 for the grandkids.
    When I game, I game alone (my wife has no interest in such things) in my study, on my gaming rig. That's the way I like it and it will remain so.
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2015
  15. "finally run out of steam due to their own technical limitations and loss of competitive advantage, which I believe may happen this generation."
    Because the average family is really going to let one person play on a computer in the living room lol
  16. TomSEA

    TomSEA TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 3,094   +1,545

    I've experimented with it and discovered that maybe 10% of the games I own translate reasonably well to a living room environment.

    The key component is being able to effectively use a controller, because using a keyboard and mouse on your lap or coffee table is uncomfortable and clumsy.

    Plus there's the resolution thing. With my PC I'm gaming at 2560 x 1440 on a 27" IPS monitor. So do I want to drop down to 1080p for eye candy games like Witcher 3 or Bioshock Infinite just so I can sit on the sofa? Nope.
  17. rvnwlfdroid

    rvnwlfdroid TS Booster Posts: 193   +49

    I've been using my Main computer/HTPC out in the loving room for the last 7-8 years. I'm still very happy with the wireless keyboard and track ball combo for my gaming. I like the mapping ability of the entire keyboard vs being stuck with a couple of configurations on a game pad. Most game I play "I feel" require more options then the average game pad would be capable of. That's a big part of the PC gaming draw for me. The ability to customize and the options/controls available.
  18. Jason Jones

    Jason Jones TS Rookie

    Most computer games do not translate well to the big screen and the bigger the screen the worse it gets. Why would I go from 2560 x 1440 down to 1080p on a big screen? Perhaps for console ports yes, but conversions even don't look good on them. Nothing quite like having blurry text on your screen when playing a game!

    Then there is the keyboard/mouse setup issues as well. You cant use them on your lap so you end up having to set up TV dinner tray or something of the like for them and its awkward as hell.

    This whole idea is built around using a game controller and most PC gamers will tell you that the best PC games cant be used on a controller without losing most of the control options and thus depth of the game and the very reason for gaming on a PC over a console.

    So, no thank you. I will continue to stream movies to my TV from my PC but everything else? No point, too much is lost for too little gain.
    BSim500 likes this.
  19. mcborge

    mcborge TS Guru Posts: 554   +453

    My commodore 64 lived in the living room.. my atari ste lived in the living room... my amigas ( a500, a1200, cdtv) lived in the living room... my pc's (from p200 to fx8350) all lived in my living room... and all used the same desk... which is still in my living room.
  20. deemon

    deemon TS Addict Posts: 290   +89

    Makes me wonder, if either your TV is too small or you sit too far away from it.
    About mouse you are probably right.... except now the Steam controller might be something to fix this also.
  21. BSim500

    BSim500 TS Evangelist Posts: 599   +1,201

    I tried it on several screen sizes between 32-50". Buying a giant +60-80" TV simply makes a lot of older stuff (eg, SD DVD sources) then look worse faster than the higher quality stuff looks better with each size jump over 50" or so. Buying a giant +60-70" 4K TV would retain sharpness for games output at that resolution, but then you run into UI scaling issues in the many games with non-scalable UI's. And if I have to sit on the floor within 3-4ft from it to read small text, then what's the point of using that vs using a monitor at 2ft in a comfy leather chair?

    It also doesn't solve the "family problem" as someone said above : "Because the average family is really going to let one person play on a computer in the living room lol". That's why tablets sold so well - they eliminated "the queue" in households with more people than PC's. Same is true of trying to stuff every entertainment device in your house through a single TV - it's great if you live on your own or with a partner that rarely watches anything, but with a family of 4-5, you run into the startling realization that other family members will often want to use the living room TV, for um, watching TV on during the exact same evening hours you are most likely to want to game for at least 5 out of 7 weekdays... That's precisely why 50-55% of all households keep their games console / desktop PC in a bedroom in the first place.

    Even if your living room computer uses a separate monitor from the TV, you're far better off concentrating on work / a game if it's in a different room whilst someone's watching a TV show you really don't like (and they're better off watching TV without someone "click-click-click" or another screen flashing a few feet away in the background). For us at least, "study room / bedroom gaming" and being able to use 2-4 screens in 2-4 different rooms simultaneously trumps "form a breadline outside the living room door then wait your turn" every day of the week. Come to think of it, that's also why "bedroom TV's" and "laptops" were invented in the first place... ;-)

    I don't doubt some will find living room gaming great for parties, and in "quiet" households, etc, but for others, ordinary weekly usage patterns of the TV (as an actual TV) makes it pointless to chain everyone to one single screen in one room regardless of how good that screen looked.
  22. ghostcasper

    ghostcasper TS Rookie

    I had a new 2009 pc and bought a hp envy 2013 with hd graphics recently, while I may have kept it for years more I upgraded and am glad I did. The new pc are powerful with great hd game graphics mind blowing. The model I have I pay on credit 800 bucks got cash you can pick one up 500. It is well worth it and all this pc virtual functions also make a more powerful system. Old is not better for sure.
  23. godpov

    godpov TS Rookie

    I use keyboard and mouse on my couch as well :)
  24. amstech

    amstech IT Overlord Posts: 2,146   +1,309

    Fifa? Gears of War? Couch.
    Bioshock? Far Cry 4? Dragon Age? Chair.
  25. TitoBXNY

    TitoBXNY TS Addict Posts: 238   +54

    My basement was my family room until one day my wife decided to bring the TV to the living room. I connected my PC to the TV long before it was cool to do so. I prefer to play on a keyboard monitor and sitting on a desk. As I write this we decided that the basement will become the family room again. Wife always complains that living room tv is too loud and that we need to keep it down. That the PC looked stupid in the living room. Unable to enjoy sports with friends and family. It was her idea lol So back to the basement we go.

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