With the release of the Switch and this newfound ability to play console-quality games (or at least a handful of them) absolutely anywhere, I’ve had a really tough time being anchored to a television or computer. Let’s face it – it’s 2017, and many of us sit down many, many hours in a day, for our jobs and otherwise. Sometimes we want to relax in a more comfortable manner, following long hours in a computer chair. There are a plethora of options for streaming your consoles, and while the console you want to play on dictates the options you have, there are a decent amount of options for pretty much every modern machine on the market.
However, while explaining to some friends the perks of using my MacBook Pro and learning that they had no idea it was possible, it seems like a lot of these methods are not very well-known!
As a lifetime PC gamer with a fat Steam collection, I’ve been wanting to finally get into some games I’ve had sitting in my backlog from Steam Sales of yesteryear. But here’s the problem – I really don’t want to sit in front of a computer any more than I have to. My typical day spent in the office goes like this: sit in car, sit in bus, walk to work, sit in chair, sit in bus, sit in car, go to gym, sit in car, lay in bed. That’s a hell of a lot of sitting, and it’s not like there’s any shortage of scientific evidence that sitting down is killing us all.
Laying down, however, is much less catastrophic on the human body, not to mention, far more comfortable. Stand-up desks are also very popular. But circling back to the topic at hand, we have home gaming consoles and PCs that anchor us to a chair or couch. So what are we to do to achieve Comfort Level 11? How can you play all your console games like the cool cat that you are? I’ve got some answers.
I think I have mastered the art of relaxing, particularly while playing games, so I’d like to share some of my techniques, while offering some others depending on the consoles you have.
If You Have a Gaming PC
Playing While in Bed
What do you need? A laptop, running Steam. It can be a Windows, Mac, or Linux machine. Needs a decent CPU but nothing amazing. You do need a decent router, however. You can also use a USB controller (Xbox 360 is what I use) if the game is played with one, as a touch pad might not be preferable. As you can imagine, this setup is only ideal with certain types of games where fast mouse-movements are not required. Controller-based games are by far your best bet.
In-Home Streaming: This feature was actually released a few years ago, but somehow I discovered it recently. Essentially, it turns any computer in your house into a beacon for game streaming. I first discovered this while playing Final Fantasy X, because I could not bare to sit at my desk and play anymore. I would lay on the couch with my 7 pound chihuahua at my side, and play with the keyboard.
More recently, I am playing through the Ys collection, as well as some other controller-based Steam games. They all play flawlessly over the wi-fi to my late-2015 MacBook Pro.
Keep in mind that you can stream literally any game – I have some non-Steam games, and all you have to do is use the “Add Non-Steam Game” feature and it will work like a dream.
Playing on your Television
What do you need? A Steam Link, and a wired controller. I use an Xbox 360 controller because I think it’s the best controller out there, but you can use whatever you want. The Steam Controller is also nice and frequently you can get a Link + Controller for around $50. You can also use a mouse and keyboard, as there are three USB ports on the Steam Link.
You also need an available Ethernet cable, which you may not have available in this age of wi-fi. I had to buy a switch to be able to extend the single Ethernet cable I had run into my room.
Keep in mind that this works fine with wi-fi, but it is HIGHLY recommended that you use a wired connection. With certain games the latency will ruin the experience. Particularly input latency. For example, I played Axiom Verge using wi-fi, but opted to hard-wire my Steam Link after a couple of laggy moments and cheap deaths sent me over the edge. It’s really made for a wired connection – latency-free communication is simply not a strong point of wireless internet.
Like I mentioned above, I don’t often play games on a TV, but when I want to play PC games on one, the Steam link is a godsend. It makes everything simple and the interface (Big Screen mode) is terrific. It’s a very seamless experience and for the price I paid for the Steam Link ($20) I can’t argue for anything else. The quality is also perfect and the FPS a constant, smooth 60. Feels just like playing right from the machine.
Keep in mind that, unlike the next option in this article, the Steam Link can not be used from outside your network. While there are ways to use private VPNs to accomplish this, the latency is far too high to make it a feasible gaming experience.
If You Have a Playstation 4
Playing While Away From Home + on Any TV
What do you need? A Playstation TV. These are a little hard to find but are usually extremely cheap when you find them. They are essentially PS Vitas without screens that can be used to play your games on any TV. In fact, it’s fundamentally the exact same thing as the Steam Link.
While I don’t own one of these, or a PS4 for that matter, they are quite simple to use. You plug it into a TV, connect a controller, login to your Playstation account, and you are free to play your games! Evidently it works quite well, even over wi-fi, using the Playstation 4’s Remote Play feature.
Playing While in Bed
What do you need? A Playstation Vita.
While Vitas are no longer being manufactured in the west, they are marginally easier to find than a PSTV. The remote play capability is very reliable and can be played outside of the network that the PS4 is on, unlike the Steam Link. A co-worker of mine has a Vita and regularly plays PS4 games on it during lunch breaks, and claims that it works great. The other day he was playing Fallout 4 and said it worked great. Like Steam, Sony seems to have gotten streaming video playback down to a science.
If You Have an Xbox One
Playing While in Bed
What do you need? A laptop running Windows 10 – PC or a Mac, with an Xbox One controller plugged in via a micro-USB cable.
Similar to Steam’s In-Home Streaming feature, this works on exactly the same principles. The only requirement is that it requires a hard-wired Xbox One controller, since the Xbox One controller relies on proprietary wireless communication that will not work with anything other than the Xbox itself.
The instructions to syncing up your laptop computer with your Xbox One are simple enough to find and very easy to figure out. All that is required is the Xbox App to be launched from Windows 10, and there you will be able to connect to your Xbox.
If You Have a Nintendo Switch
Just pick it up and go wherever!
I decided to write this when I was sitting in bed, playing the Switch. I realized how many options we have these days for portability, but was unsure of how obvious it was to people who haven’t even thought to look for more comfortable alternatives to playing their favorite consoles. Many people, particularly in the 25+ age group, simple don’t have the time to camp out in front of the TV for hours at a time. Hopefully one of these options can make your time spend gaming that much more comfortable!
Let me know if you use any of these streaming solutions!