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Your monitor is your gateway to the gaming world. Position it incorrectly and you may have issues reading text and seeing smaller details. It may also cause headaches, eye strain, sore shoulders, neck and back pain. Whether you are using a computer monitor for gaming or a big screen television, whether you use a desk, a couch, a lazy boy or game sitting, standing or lying down, placing your monitor in the right place is one of the most important aspects of making gaming comfortable and ergonomic.
Placing your monitor / television
Center your monitor or television screen. It may look prettier when you put your television in the corner, but turning side-ways constantly can cause neck, shoulder and eye strain leading to headaches and chronic pain. Whether you are sitting, lying or standing, the centre of the screen should be centered on you.
How far away from the screen should you be sitting? If you are using a computer monitor, sit at arm’s length away or slightly further for monitors larger than 20″. For console gaming on your big screen TV, the distance should be twice the size of the screen. For example, if you play on a 40″ screen, sit 80″ (6-7 feet, 2 metres) away from the screen.
Position the screen/ television monitor so that when looking straight at it, your eyes focus on a spot about 8-10cm (3-4″) below the top of the monitor or screen. If you find yourself tilting your head down, your screen is too low. If you tend to tilt back to see, your screen is too high. If you are reclining when gaming, your television/ screen may need to be higher than when you are sitting upright or standing. You can purchase adjustable wall and desk mounts for both monitors and televisions to adjust the height if you either share the screen or play in different positions.
If you are gaming at a sitting or standing desk with a monitor, tilt your screen slightly upwards so that the base is closer to you than the top which will enable you to see the full screen clearer.
Minimize glare as much as possible. Pay attention to all light sources, both lamps, overhead lights and windows. Turn off your monitor and see what if any reflections you can see in it and change the lighting until you do not see any. Balance the brightness of the monitor with the background and surroundings.
Daytime gaming: If you make use of natural light, you will have to adjust your monitor brightness throughout the day as the level of light in the room changes. Also minimize glare by removing direct sunlight from your gaming area by either moving your desk away from windows and/or using blinds, curtains or other shading to diffuse sunlight particularly on bright summer days. At night: Don’t play in a dark room with a brightly lit monitor. Turn on some ambient lighting and decrease the brightness of your monitor if you prefer playing in a low lit environment.
Positioning your monitor at the correct height, distance and angle is not necessarily an expensive endeavor. If your monitor is too high, lower your chair and find an inexpensive way to match up your mouse/keyboard placing.
If your monitor stand is too high, add a shelf of the required height. Monitor stands can be expensive. It may also be difficult to find a stand that is the correct height for your needs. If you cannot source an appropriate monitor stand within your price range, think about making your own.
Here is an Ikea Hack Monitor stand for $12 (£12.69) or an Ikea Hack TV Shelf with doorstops for legs. You can use a hardback book, a brick or a variety of different wall shelves, examples here, here and here.
If you require more flexibility, a monitor arm is the way to go. Most desk clamp monitor stands can either be adjusted horizontally or vertically, if you need it to do both, check that it can indeed both swivel and tilt.
Wall mounts are cheaper as a rule, but limits your desk and monitor position to somewhere near a wall. When purchasing a monitor arm, read reviews and select with care. Less well constructed arms tend to lack stability and leave you with a monitor swinging or angled to one side. I use a MDM04 LCD Monitor Desk Mount Bracket for a 20″ screen and it has served me well for a number of years.