Ask LH: How Can I Play PC Games In My Lounge Room Comfortably?

Ask LH: How Can I Play PC Games In My Lounge Room Comfortably?

Dear LH, I recently made the decision to integrate my gaming PC into my living room. Basically, all gaming gets done on the sofa, but I have never been able to nail down the best way to ensure comfort for long PC gaming sessions that isn’t bad for my posture while using a mouse. I was wondering if there is any sort of solutions for a sofa gamer aspiring to the ultimate “DIY gaming throne”, both in terms of peripherals and general setup? Thanks, Stiff Gamer

Image: archie4oz, Flickr

I absolutely feel your pain. Despite the plethora of Steam Boxes and game-friendly media centres hitting the market, PCs were never really meant for couch-bound gaming. You invariably end up hunched over the keyboard which leads to a sore, stiff back. On the other hand, your HD TV provides an immersive, cinematic experience that a desktop monitor can never hope to match.

If you require a full keyboard-and-mouse setup, one solution worth considering is the trusty “stable table”. These are essentially fortified serving trays with cushioned undersides that lay horizontally across your lap. While chiefly designed for laptops and TV dinners, these products also make a perfect platform for wireless mice and keyboards. Unlike a coffee table, you aren’t required to lean forward which translates to improved posture and comfortability.

They’re also relatively cheap; especially when compared to specialised gaming solutions like the Roccat SOVA or COUCHMASTER lap desk. Some models come with adjustable inbuilt legs — handy if you tend to really pound the keyboard.

If you’d prefer something a bit more robust, try using a bracket-free shelf. The IKEA Ekby Viktor shelf is perfect in this regard: it measures 280x750mm and weighs a sturdy 10kg. In other words, there’s plenty of room to maneuver your mouse and it should remain on your lap even during the most frenzied gaming sessions. The Ekby Viktor is available in black or red and carries a price tag of just $9.99.

Depending on the types of games you play, you could also give wearable computing a try. As their name implies, these are computer peripherals that you wear on your hands and/or wrist in place of a traditional keyboard-and-mouse setup. While not really suitable for twitch gaming, products like the Keyglove and AirMouse are perfectly adequate for more sedate fare such as strategy games and RPGs. The chief advantage here is that you can lounge on the sofa in pretty much any position you see fit without disrupting the controllers.

Alternatively, you could eschew the couch entirely and become a “standing gamer”. No really. I recently began doing this in a bid to improve my sedentary lifestyle and it’s become my new religion. In addition to helping with posture, it has fixed my sleeping habits and allowed me to get a modicum of exercise while gaming.

Naturally, you’ll need to invest in a standing desk to pull this off on a PC, which might sound counterproductive. However, you still get to take advantage of your big screen TV and sound system which is the main point of gaming in the lounge room. You can find plenty of cheap, lightweight solutions by following our Standing Desk tag.

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  • …your HD TV provides an immersive, cinematic experience that a desktop monitor can never hope to match.

    Assuming one sits much closer to a monitor than they do to a television, such that it fills the same field of view, doesn’t that negate some of the differences?

    • Not sure I agree with this. Sitting in the back row at the cinema still provides a more immersive experience than watching on your TV at home (provided you’re not sitting near a bunch of chatty wankers, natch)

      • Someone needs to invent a Chatty Wankers app/add-on for home television so it can properly recreate the cinema experience.

        • I remember watching a pirated copy of… Well, I can’t even remember what movie it was… at a friend’s place which was recorded off a camera. There was some guy in the middle of a row who kept needing to go to the toilet, which led to a few “down in front” calls, despite the fact we knew it was pre-recorded and the guy couldn’t hear us.

      • Then we’ll agree to disagree, since it seems that your personal preference for focus distance (of your eyes) means far-away screens are better for you.

    • This is my lounge room setup with 55″ Sony (the with no noticeable input lag)

      There is a big PC case hidden behind the grey unit, then PS4 and Mac Mini in the little compartments. The low chair and side tables are from IKEA, very comfy even for long sessions, quick to setup then remove when finished. Hard to go back to desk & monitor after gaming this way!

  • I thought of this too, but as a console & PC gamer, I find I get more precision from using a mouse and keyboard than from an Xbox controller. Some games just need that extra precision.

    • That’s true, but then there are some games that do benefit from a controller, or at least to me personally feel more natural with a controller, such as platformers. A wireless Xbox Controller or PS4 controller is great on my TV-connected gaming PC.

  • If you are able to move everything into the lounge room to play then it sounds like there are no gaming barriers, ie. partners, kids, etc. If that’s the case, just drag your computer desk in there as well! If you are making a gaming space please don’t get halfway and then ask for suggestions on how to do it properly – Get everything in there all at once and then optimise!

  • For years, I’ve used one of those mini-ironing boards. I cross my legs under me and put it on my lap, works brilliantly (or I’m using a controller).

    Never saw the problem with PC gaming in the living room.

  • kb/mouse will only be comfortable on couch if you make it, and it suits you. Usually, it doesn’t work. Therefore, you either play only gamepad games, or you build a dedicated SteamBox.

  • “Despite the plethora of Steam Boxes […] hitting the market”

    Steam Boxes haven’t been released yet…

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