Peaceful Evening Gaming Vibes
February 12, 2018 2:51 PM   Subscribe

How might the experience of playing games on a Nintendo Switch compare to other kinds of screen time? In particular, I'm curious if the psychological effect is lower than traditional consoles or gaming on a PC.

Is there any reason to believe that playing games on a Switch at night would be less mentally stimulating/visually stimulating than other kinds of evening screen time?

I'm trying to drastically reduce my screen time in order to decrease overall anxiety and get ready for bed earlier. I currently spend way too much time (1-3+ hours) aimlessly searching the Internet at night. I'm slowly replacing that routine with healthier options, and I'd love to include video games in there somewhere, at least some of the time. I've heard a few people talk about curling up on their couches with their Switch, and while I imagine a lot of this is anecdotal/personal, I'm still curious if there's any specific reason to believe gaming on Switch would be more compatible with a peaceful evening routine. (I'm not going to grab a Switch immediately, but was thinking of setting grabbing one as a medium-term goal.)

Currently, I find reading on a Kindle extremely relaxing, if that's relevant.

posted by elephantsvanish to Technology (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
It's not really different from any other backlit screen, in my experience. Using a Switch in handheld mode (or any other handheld gaming device, like a Vita or 3DS or a phone or tablet) probably exposes you to a little less bright shiny light before bed than playing the same games on a large TV or monitor, but it's a difference of degree, not type.

Not that you shouldn't grab a Switch if you're interested, it's an excellent device with some pretty great games. But it's still a regular LCD screen, not e-ink.
posted by asperity at 3:02 PM on February 12, 2018

I relax in bed playing Stardew Valley on the Switch, and the content is certainly more calming than browsing the internet for the same amount of time...but the actual experience is still staring at a backlit screen. It has pretty much the same effect on my sleep as using my phone. I usually try to put the Switch away a reasonable time, so that I can read on my Kindle or read a paper book right before going to sleep.
posted by cpatterson at 3:24 PM on February 12, 2018 [1 favorite]

Yeah no, no good reason. Sure, playing chill games over web browsing may be scientifically defensible as better before bed, but you can do that on a small laptop or tablet etc.
I think you’re right that not all screen time is equal, but the only way platform comes into play is by its library. And there are plenty of hyper/frantic games on the switch, and plenty of chill relaxing games on other platforms
posted by SaltySalticid at 3:50 PM on February 12, 2018 [1 favorite]

I like the idea of the Night Rectangle, and I used to use an iPad for this purpose. It and other tablets have a night mode thing which red shifts the color which supposedly doesn't impact sleep as much.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 5:13 PM on February 12, 2018

Small screen close up (with glasses off -- I'm nearsighted) seems less disruptive than big screen a room away. And, when I get sleepy, I can dump the Switch on the nightstand and drift off.

Also helpful: E-reader with backlit screen and a red filter. Or, go for a music player with podcasts or music, via headphones.
posted by sourcequench at 5:18 PM on February 12, 2018

I don't know about you and your situation but here's my perspective. If I were to play games on my computer, or even just mess around or watch YouTube, I'm sitting in the exact seat where I do work since I work from home. I haven't own a gaming console since I was maybe in high school but the reason I got the Switch is that you can take it anywhere and play it anywhere. I love sitting on the couch or a reading chair away from my desk and playing the Switch. It's relaxing to play a game at not be sitting at my desk in my desk chair. I also live in a small apartment, so it gives me a nice change of scenery by allowing me to play games and relax in other places. Sometimes, I do play my Switch in bed before I go to sleep, which is probably a bad habit, but all it replaces is the web surfing I do from my laptop before bed anyway.
posted by AppleTurnover at 5:40 PM on February 12, 2018

Gaming on the Switch is definitely more relaxing to me. I will caveat the only game I've played so far is BOTW, but I'd also argue that's not necessarily a super relaxing game? Like, sure, the exploring part, but also things trying to kill you and your weapons breaking and LIGHTNING STORMS, OH GOD.

However, despite all that, I do find it more relaxing. I think, because of the setup of the Switch, I feel so much less "committed" to the game and find it easy to just play for a bit and then put it down to sleep, versus a console or PC I have to pull up and park myself in front of for the next hour or so to feel like it was worth it to start the game up. I can play the Switch for just half an hour as a break during work, I couldn't do that with PC or console games without feeling like it was too short a time. Plus with the Switch I can curl up and get comfortable, which is a big factor in winding down for me.

I doubt there's a large effect, but I do think the positioning (sitting up in a chair vs curling up on the couch/bed) is a factor. I'm not sure there's anything else to it, though. If you wanted to test this out, I think maybe you might want to start with a cheaper handheld--one of the older generations of DS would probably give you the same effect for less price. If you find it's helping your night routine then it might be worth it to upgrade to the Switch, but honestly you'd have a big enough library to sustain you on the DS for quite a while.
posted by brook horse at 5:54 PM on February 12, 2018

The Switch is great, and there are a lot of really relaxing (and non-relaxing!) games on it.

One thing I will say is that I am completely unable to play it in the way I intuitively want to, which is holding it over my head while I'm lying down—I immediately get a lot of wrist pain from doing that. When I'm playing it in bed I usually end up sitting up, which kind of defeats the purpose. (The calm screen thing I do in bed is turn the brightness on my old iPhone 5s all the way down and read books.)
posted by Polycarp at 6:37 PM on February 12, 2018

Look into a pair of yellow tinted glasses. I got a cheapie set from a local bike store, but there are gaming-specific ones from a company named Gunnar. I have found this super helpful when gaming or working in the evening.
posted by sincarne at 7:32 PM on February 15, 2018

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