It’s human nature to improve the spaces in which you spend your time. Whether that’s your office, your art station, your home gym… or the place in which you game. While options for improving a PC gaming station are limited, but obvious (get a better chair and an ergonomic keyboard with low input lag), there’s a much broader array of ways for console gamers to improve their spaces.
That improvement will take different forms depending upon who you are and what you play. For some, it’ll be about customizing the space for them and emphasizing an aesthetic. For others, it’ll be about practicality. Members of the FGC may have a spot on their coffee table for their fightstick, for instance. And, for many, it’ll be about making a comfortable, welcoming space for group gaming.
In any case, console gamers have a ton of options for improving their gaming spaces… and should really take advantage of them. It’s a place in which you spend quite a bit of time and some of your best hours. So, why wouldn’t you want to invest in improving that experience? Of course, some gamers—either due to money troubles or an adherence to stark practicality—may have not given much thought to how to improve their console set-ups.
That’s where we come in. This article provides a list of simple ways to improve your console gaming space and make it more welcoming for you, and your guests.
Let’s start with something that’s easy to overlook until you’ve heard the difference.
Get a (Decent) Soundbar
The speakers on most televisions flat-out suck. Part of this is physics: for good audio quality, you need enough depth to include the physical space for a good speaker. But modern TVs are usually flat-screens and put all their money into their quality. They have neither the space, nor the interest to provide good sound quality.
Soundbars, meanwhile, are astonishingly cheap. There are good ones available for a mere $60. That’s the cost of one brand new game. And the difference in audio quality is staggering. I wouldn’t have believed it myself until I heard it in action. But think of it this way: it’s not about how loud the speakers get. It’s about the range of distinct sounds they’re capable of producing. You’ll hear things from a soundbar it wouldn’t have been possible to hear on your TV’s speakers.
Sound is a fundamental part of making games immersive. By investing in the audio of your set-up, you’ll be able to better appreciate the horror of a spooky game, the drama of a masterpiece like Last of Us, and maybe even hear your enemies coming on your favorite shooter.
Play With Your TV’s Settings
Every TV has its own quirks. But one common element is that they’re designed for a wide variety of viewing experiences. As such, it’ll never be specialized for video game visuals right out the box. While this won’t be a huge hindrance (outside of some lighting-heavy genres like survival horror), it’s also something that’s easy to fix with five minutes of your time. The payoff is better visuals and reduced eye strain.
So, it’s highly advisable to take those five minutes to sit down in your usual seat, grab the remote, and get into the TV’s visual settings. Adjust them while some of your regular games are on-screen, so you can optimize it for the games you like to play. It’s a small effort that can have a big effect, even if it’s easy to overlook.
Make Sure Your TV’s at the Right Height and Distance
This is something else that’s easy to overlook. As it turns out, there’s an optimal viewing height and distance between you and your TV. If you’re not at it, you’re straining your eyes (and maybe your neck) and possibly reducing your physical comfort and the visual quality of what’s on-screen.
Now, there’s two ways to do this. First, you can google the optimal viewing distance, and the optimal height of a TV. But, those will always be averages, and no person perfectly fits an average. Instead, you could adjust it over time to what’s comfortable for you, and encourages you to sit with halfway decent posture.
Either way, this is a small thing that makes gaming more comfortable. Speaking of…
Get Somewhere Firm to Sit
Soft couches may feel nice on your butt, but they’re bad for your back and neck. They don’t offer nearly enough spinal support, and the sink causes you to tilt and slouch, both of which are terrible for your back. Especially over long periods… like, you know, a marathon gaming session.
Besides that, the fact is that you won’t notice the extra pressure of a firm couch once you get into the game. What you will notice is the stiff neck you get from that soft couch you think you like so much. You’ll also notice the bill on your physical therapy once you hit your late twenties and find yourself with botched posture.
Have Somewhere for Everyone to Put Things
Here’s a general tip for hosting events: make sure there’s enough table space in arms reach of every seat for a dinner plate, a glass, and a controller. Likewise, ensure that, even if every one of those spots was in use, there’d still be enough room for at least one extra set. First off, it keeps things organized and clean. But more importantly, it makes guests feel welcome. Like they aren’t intruding on your home, and that you’ve made space for them.
It also reduces the chances of someone kicking over a beer when they stand up to use the bathroom.
Put Anything Guests Might Use in Easy Reach
Like the above suggestion, making sure anything your guests might use (like controllers) are somewhere visible and easy for them to reach without opening a cabinet helps to make them feel welcome, and reduce the strain on you, as a host, to hand them everything. When you’ve got a big party together to argue over Mario Kart or beat the hell out of each other in Smash Bros, this can really go a long way towards keeping things smooth.
Put up Decorations
I’m astonished at how many gaming spaces I’ve seen that are totally bare, when there’s tons of wall space all around. If you’ve got the money for it, it can’t hurt to put up posters, artwork, or sculptures representing some of your favorite games. They give you something to look at while waiting for a match to load, and a good talking point for guests. Plus… doesn’t it just feel nice to honor the hobby?
A Final Note: Keep it Clean
As you may have noticed, none of the above suggestions are terribly novel. But, when you spend so much time somewhere, it can be easy to forget the basics. Here, I hope I’ve done my part to remind you of them. And I’d be remiss if I didn’t hit one last point:
Keep your gaming space clean. It’s a common problem in many households. Maybe because games are so distractingly immersive that the last thing you want to do is get up to toss your trash. But you’ll find it’s a much more relaxing—and welcoming—space if you take the extra few seconds to keep it clean.