How Corona Virus and Lockdown Affect Me

I guess everybody has a story about how the current situation affects them. Since I share a few of my thoughts on the Internet and this one also has to do with technology, usually the main topic of my musings, I think this is something worth addressing.

I do not know if it makes any difference, but I will say it anyway for the sake of context. I live in Germany and of all the countries in the world we are in fairly good shape so far. We have had lockdown procedures for a while, but nothing so restricting that forbade leaving the house for anything other than going to work, the doctor or buy groceries. We could go for walks or outdoor sports if we were not meeting with other people. It was social distancing, but not hiding at home.

I work as a software developer at an IT company and my employer, like many others, relaxed the usual home office regulations month after month and basically the whole company started to work from their homes, me included. There are a few that do not like it and rather go to the office – which is safe, I presume, as there is basically no one there. I, on the other hand, prefer working from home and this is where the story of this blog post starts.

Since this came out of nowhere, I am not setup for prolonged work from home. What I mean by that is that I have no dedicated space I can call “office”. My apartment consists of one big room that is living room, bedroom, and man-cave at the same time. It is not a loft though, sadly. Anyway, what this has led to is that I sit at my PC gaming desk (it is a regular office desk, not one of those hideous and ridiculous “gaming desks”) for eight hours a day. Apart from my mouse and PC I use the same peripherals that I usually use for gaming. My monitor, my keyboard (which is that same that I have at work – ergonomics FTW), my microphone and my chair. What is so bad about this? I have no more separation of my private space and my workspace.

Now, I don’t mind that I work from home or that it is happening in my living-bed-room. As I have already said, I like it and through completely unrelated personal reasons I will be doing more of that soon for as long as my company lets me. But since my work is in the same physical space as my PC gaming, I have become reluctant to sit there in my spare time. This has led to me writing much less content for this blog than I have before and I have also moved to occasional gaming on my TV, something I did not enjoy too much in the past. I grew up with PC gaming, not console gaming, so I have never really become accustomed to play serious games on a console. Of course, there have been some Nintendo systems, but the passion for this art form came with computers.

But, in recent weeks I have started to carry my cute computer (I hope I can soon whip up a story about that) to the TV and play there, with all the downsides it brings with it. During the week, the computer usually stays hooked up to the TV instead of sitting at the desk. I would not turn it on otherwise anyway. But why is this such a bad thing? It is not really a bad thing per se. People all over the world play games on their big television screen. Or maybe even a small one. I sometimes even enjoy being slouched on the couch to mindlessly play some Assassin’s Creed instead of sitting up straight. Right now, the couch exudes after-work hours and therefore I prefer gaming there. I am even thinking about getting my PS4 Pro back from my sister’s place and play Horizon Zero Dawn on that thing instead of waiting a bit longer for the PC release. For similar reasons she is not playing as many games anymore either.

Do I hear you asking: “Why don’t you like gaming on a TV?”

For me, a TV is in front of a couch. As comfy as a couch can be, I do not think it is the right tool to sit in for a long time and lose yourself in a game. I prefer a good chair for that. The second issue is the TV as a screen. In my opinion a TV must be pretty big to serve as a good gaming “monitor” when sitting at “regular couch distance”. I have my couch very close to the TV, like in a small living room. It is close enough that the USB cable of my gamepad can be plugged in the back of the computer standing next to the TV and I can move freely all over the couch. And yet I still think that the 55” of my television are not big enough. Imagine sitting further back, which I was before all of this started happening. The experience has pros and cons, like a PC monitor has well. On a TV I feel like “sightseeing” games provide much more of a scale of the vastness that is the game’s world. Games like Assassin’s Creed or Red Dead Redemption 2 that show incredible landscapes. On a big screen it is much easier to notice the scenery, not just the playable character. On the other hand, smaller details get overlooked much easier, especially in a shooter. I cannot effectively play The Division 2 or Far Cry. On a 27” computer monitor it is much easier to spot small enemies and aim the tiny crosshair at their pixel heads.

Adding to that is motion clarity. I think my Sony TV is quick when it comes to pixel response times, but there is also noticeable overshoot in many areas. However, it cannot compete with my 144Hz refresh rate gaming monitor. Now, I rarely play at 144Hz because I do not own a high-end computer to drive that all the way to its limit in all games. It also is not required in the two games I currently play the most. I still feel the monitor has a much clearer image, especially since the overdrive settings can be adjusted by myself and this helps me to keep overshoot in check while still having a sharp enough image. On top of that my monitor sports a variable refresh rate. It is like the SSD of monitors. Once you have experienced this technology there is no going back. I sorely miss this on my TV. 60Hz, okay I can handle this in games like Assassin’s Creed or Jedi Fallen Order. In situations where my computer is not able to push 60 fps it is so baaaaaad on the TV. But, right now I am living with it because my man-cave is also my workplace. Only on the weekend I sometimes dare to sit at my desk, mostly to play some shooters online with my sister.

Long story short: I general, I am getting through these trying times with few inconveniences and I am incredibly happy about that. I am aware that not everybody is in such a lucky situation. My first-world problem is that, although my job is unaffected, working from home has “invaded” my man-cave in such a way that I refrain from pursuing my computer related hobbies much less or in other ways than I have before.

(It is much worse with fitness and strength training. I am definitely not setting foot in a gym right now.)

A quick solution would be to get a second desk to better separate the two spaces. I still have the room for that and if I were not planning to move out of this apartment in the next months I would likely do exactly that. Right now, my thought process is that I do not have to move furniture that I am not buying and therefore I don’t 😉 In my search for a new apartment extra space for office hours, preferably a separate room, play a big role as a solution to my “problem”.

Stay safe everybody and I hope your “problems” are as miniscule as mine.

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