Gaming in the dark is a time-honored pastime, with many of us spending our childhoods staying up late with a hand-held console or a phone under the covers. And with the advent of ever-more colorful arrays of LED lighting baked into our keyboards, mice, and mousepads, low-light gaming has never looked more beautiful.
But the unfortunate truth is that gaming in the dark does pose some danger to your eyes, thanks to the heavy contrast between lack of ambient light and the bright light our screens are putting out. Also, some studies have shown that the amount of blue light hitting your retina after sunset can fool your brain into thinking it’s still daylight, throwing your sleeping schedule outta whack. So, here are some tips to keep your biological clock in sync and your eyes happy while you also stay happy, playing games after dark.
The first tip is if it has a night mode, enable it. Fortunately, most smartphones come with native support for night mode now, which employs a darker background color and overlaid text elements with white or grey fonts. This reduces the contrast and puts less strain on your precious eyeballs than the brightness of a pure white rectangle in your face displaying the Facebook and Reddit posts you’re perusing in bed.
However, if burning the midnight oil at your PC, you can also enable Night Shift settings on your Windows 10 box or Mac. For Windows 10, click the Action Center button, located to the right of the clock and date in the taskbar in the bottom right corner of your screen. For our Mac users, head to the System Preferences menu and click Displays, then go to the Night Shift tab. You can set the time you want your screen to begin to dim and add a slightly yellow shade to the output, which reduces blue light.
Some fullscreen applications, like games, can disable night shift modes though. To help out in situations like that it’s a good idea to have eyewear that physically filters blue light. Check out the HyperX range of gaming eyewear for blue-filtered lenses that have minimal distortion on other colors. These glasses can even be fitted for custom prescriptions if you’re a gamer who needs corrective lenses, or simple filter lenses for those of us who are lucky enough to still have their 20/20 vision.
While filtering blue light is a big leap, if your only source of light is your monitor, you could still be straining the muscles in your eyes which cause you pain or fatigue. This can cause headaches, and optometrists recommend combating digital eye strain with a system of little breaks they call the 20-20-20 Rule. Every 20 minutes you look at the screen, take 20 seconds to focus on an object 20 feet away. But to further reduce the strain on your eyes while gaming in the dark, you can look into making the environment just a skosh brighter. LED strips behind your monitor, or even programming LED keyboards, such as the Alloy Elite RGB, to have low, pulsing background lighting effects could ease the tension in your eyes.
If you’re gaming the dark, there’s a good chance you’re trying not to disturb someone’s sleep, as well. If that’s the case, then don’t just save them from bright lights, also consider wearing headphones to keep the noise down. To really double down on your dark ways, the Cloud Alpha S Blackout edition should help you blend into the shadows. Because let’s face it, someone told you to turn off the Switch an hour ago, and you’re in the dark hoping they don’t come back to check, right? Don’t worry, we won’t tell on you.