How to create the perfect gaming area with ambient lighting
Lights create the ambiance. Have you ever sat down to play a game at 8 PM, only to realize that your TV was too bright? That’s because most gamers don’t know how to program their lights. But fear not! I will explain how you can easily make the right settings for your living room gaming area. This is based on personal experience and community feedback, so feel free to disagree or contribute by writing me an email.
- What kind of lighting do I need?
This depends entirely on what kind of drapes/furniture you have in your house. You want dim lighting that won’t be reflected on dark drapes or furniture. Also, it has to be soothing – no flickering fluorescent light that may induce epilepsy, please.
- How many lights do I need?
Remember that you want to create ambient lighting through your room, not spot-lighting on your TV. This means you’ll need more lights than you think (especially if your house is dark). The bare minimum of LED light strips you should buy for this purpose is 6 feet (if it’s too short, the effect will be incomplete), so buy 7-8 feet to have some spare in case you make a mistake while setting it up.
More is always better. You can easily connect multiple LED light strips through their connectors, just remember that the ground wire needs to go for at least 6 inches outside of your TV frame before wiring anything together; otherwise, the grounding won’t work properly.
- Where do I put my lights?
The best place to start is behind your TV or entertainment center. First, you need something with enough power (3 amps minimum) to run through your TV’s USB port, and this is where voltage converters come in handy (see below).
So if you’re using three strips rated at two amps each (or six amps in lighting will be dim and ineffective – but at least it won’t make things worse), but… 12 feet would be better (3 meters) because most living rooms are huge in comparison to the screen size.
In my case, I bought a 10-foot strip from eBay, which was just long enough to cover everything from wall to wall. It doesn’t look intrusive either because it’s behind the TV frame. Unfortunately, the power wire for this light strip was also really short, so I had to buy a voltage converter from eBay – that way, the lights would dim properly when plugged into my TV and powered through its USB port (these things should ALWAYS be used to prolong equipment lifespan).
- How do I optimize brightness?
The key is to experiment with your remote. Every remote has different items you can program to specific settings.
If we go by default order, then Standard should actually be “Off” since there should never be anything above Off. As such, if you set up this way at least once, all future sessions won’t require you to do any tinkering. If you have a Super Nintendo, for example, you can link the code 921 to Standard so that when you press it, your TV switches to Standard mode.
- How do I optimize color temperature?
If you have an Android or Apple phone, then download one of these apps specifically designed for white balance. These are better than any tools built into TVs since they’re fine-tuned for different lighting conditions. Unfortunately, I don’t know of any PC software which would make life easier on gamers without phones – but if someone does, please let me know in the comments!
Anyways, there are five modes: incandescent, halogen, fluorescent (the evil black light), daylight, and cloudy/shade. They’re all self-explanatory, so give them a try and see which one you prefer. If you have the same lamp as I do, then go with Daylight mode since it’s closest to incandescent.
- How do I optimize saturation?
You have two options here: if you want overly saturated colors to make your games look more vivid, then set Gain at max (100%). Otherwise, keep it at zero (0%). Of course, it’ll take an hour of tinkering to figure out what looks best for your TV – but you can’t rely on reviews because they’re based on default settings without any personal tinkering!
- How do I optimize contrast?
Again there are two options: Contrast should be at max(100%) for lighter colors, while Gamma should be at max (0%) for darker colors. If you don’t fully understand these concepts, go with whatever settings look best on your TV – but remember that 100% contrast is NOT the same as pure black!
- How do I optimize sharpness?
Sharpness should always be set to zero (0%). You just spent money on HDTVs, you don’t need any artificial enhancements to make games look worse than they are! This is why it’s crucial to have a sub-par picture mode since there are no sharpness enhancements in Standard mode.
- Why am I getting input lag?
Input lag means that pressing a button on your controller doesn’t correspond immediately to visual feedback on your TV. The solution is to tinker with the settings in your video options until it’s either gone or unnoticeable, but there are some caveats:
– Some TVs have had issues with input lag on Mode 1 (and I’m not sure about Mode 2). If that’s the case, try using Mode 2 instead of Mode 1.
– You can’t necessarily blame “Game mode” since some TVs don’t support it properly. Also, if you’re playing multiplayer split-screen, chances are everyone else will be getting input lag, too – so keep this in mind before blaming any of your friends!
- How do I put my TV into a Game mode?
If you have a Samsung TV, press QLED; If you have a Sony TV, press Home ;
If you have an LG TV, press Game ;
If you don’t have any of these sets, refer to your TV manual or simply Google search it – but I doubt there are other remote codes out there. If someone has the same remote as me and knows how to put their TV into Game mode without using QLED / Home / Game buttons, please let me know in the comments! Now that you’ve optimized brightness, color temperature, saturation, contrast and sharpness, remember that your mileage may vary – because unless your room is pitch black with no lights, ambient light will affect the quality of your picture. But this should at least be better than leaving everything on default settings!
While we may have made your gaming lighting better, I can’t promise this will improve your skills as a gamer. Sorry!