Gaming and Projectors: The Starting Bit

Hello all!

My name is Pete Connolly and I’m very excited to start helping out here at Projector Reviews.  I spend a lot of time in front of the big screen with a controller in my hand and hope to share some of my thoughts and experiences on pairing video games with home theater projectors.  I will be doing this by adding a video game section to future reviews, as well as contributing here in a gaming focused blog.

Before getting into specifics, I’ll give a quick overview of my “method of madness”.  It’s nothing too crazy…I’ve simply found genre to be the number-one factor in determining how well a projector provides for a video game.   As you can imagine, projectors do very well with most types of games, handle some better than others and some just aren’t made for projectors.  Throughout the next couple months I’ll be sharing some more detailed thoughts on specific genres and how they perform on the big screen.

I have written a supplement article to this first blog titled, “The Breakdown”.  Regardless of your gaming skills, I encourage you to take a look.  It is meant to serve as a “gaming genres 101” to some of you newbies out there, but it also provides a more complete look into how I chose to separate and combine some the popular gaming genres.

So, with that out of the way…where to begin?

Well, I’m frequently asked what types of games I enjoy most on a projector, and I figured this as good a topic as any to tackle first.

Video games are much more interactive than movies, and the ideal environment can change completely depending on what type of game you are playing.   It may sound obvious, but the large size of most projector screens allows for an entirely different level of immersion than a traditional sized television.  For movies and TV shows this is great! And for video games it usually is too.  However, some video games lend themselves more to this type of experience than others.  Who holds the trump card?

Hands down…RPGs. (Role Playing Games)

Yea, yea…I know…RPGs really are the “gamers’ game” and they are not for everyone, but the fact still remains, on a projector, I think they work best.

Many would agree, RPGs and slower paced 3rd person shooters (which I tend to lump into the RPG family) are some of the most visually impressive and graphically detailed games.  This is only becoming truer in modern titles, as game developers use more realistic graphics and complicated physics engines.  As a result, RPGs tend to stand out as extremely impressive, especially on the big screen.

Though this boost in graphic performance is notable, it is not the reason I consider this genre to be the “holy grail” of projector gaming.  I can be as equally swept away by old school RPGs like Chrono Trigger (16-bit SNES) or Legend of Zelda (N64) at 120” as I can be by a graphics powerhouse title like Resident Evil 5.  Again, it comes down to properly matching environment with genre.

RPGs are usually free flowing and slower placed in terms of camera angle and game play.  There is little need for extremely fast panning or quick response times (not that projectors can’t handle these).  Many RPGs are more comparable to watching a movie than playing a traditional video game.  Because of this, I find that RPGs consistently lend themselves to a projector’s environment more so than any other genre.  If RPGs are your cup of tea…I say game on!

I do realize everyone has different interests.  I’m not trying to say if you don’t like RPGs you shouldn’t game on a projector, because there are many other genres outside of RPGs that a projector can make more enjoyable.  But if you are looking for a new gaming display (possibly a projector?), or are looking to better incorporate a game system to an existing home theater, I cannot stress enough the importance of having a clear understanding of what types of games you play and a realistic expectation of a projector’s performance.  It doesn’t matter if you are a hard core game guru or a casual party gamer, genre focus is key.

Next time, I’ll dig into some thoughts on first person shooters.  They have become an extremely popular genre both for casual and professional gaming, and many are curious as to how projectors hold up to the fast pace and accuracy that these games demand.


That’s all for now —-








News and Comments

  • Comment from Jonathan –

    “I’m in the planning stages of my theater at the moment and I’m dying to read your writeup on projectors and gaming. Frame lag has been at the forefront of my mind and I’m glad to hear it’s less of an issue than I first suspected, but now I’m really interested to find out what the other “stuff” is.

    My fiancé and I taped out screen sizes for a 65″ plasma and 92″ front projection screen on the wall today and there really is no comparison between the two even when adjusting seating positions for different screen sizes…. So unless you have some really bad news for FPS players coming up, projection here I come.

    As a side note, I don’t know if you’ve thought about how to test frame lag on a projector, but a semi-scientific way might be to use the calibration tool in Rock Band 2 or Beatles Rock Band. You can do a manual mode where you “strum” to a beat and it shows you the lag in milliseconds afterwards or some newer rock bands instruments can auto calibrate using light pulses from the tv fed into a receiver on the instrument. BTW if you use the manual mode, I recommend chucking the first result and doing it a few more times, then take the average of the results.

    Thanks again for your focus on games. It’s an item that a lot of other sites seem to neglect, but it’s certainly important to me!”

    • Jonathan,

      That’s awesome! It’s always fun picking out stuff for a theater. Just a side note – If you aren’t restricted on size and can go bigger than 92″… DO IT!!! trust me…you want at least 100″ 🙂

      Nothing to worry about FPS. Unless you are playing professionally, sponsored and flying to MLG tournaments, there is nothing about a projector’s FPS performance that would make me say you should pass up on it. I can say with confidence 99% of people will not care about the “other stuff” I discuss in my FPS review. I will include it for the people who are just curious and for those hard core gamers who play pro. (I’m trying to get the FPS blog out as soon as possible…last week of classes for me and I’m swamped! – but it’s almost good to go…)

      It’s funny you mention the RockBand calibration tool because that is exactly how I was going to “quantify” frame lag. (and yes, about taking multiple readings – I’ve had more classes on data acquisition than I care to think about…haha)

      I was also going to do a regular “qualitative” test using a favorite of mine, Amplitude (PS2). It was before GuitarHero (I think it’s aton better!) and it was the first game I noticed frame delay on back when I switched to my first LCD TV. I use is as my personal benchmark to test frame delay on TVs and Projectors. (I personally prefer the qualitative test. I get a much better “feel” for the TV) But I know people really want to see numbers, so the RockBand quantitative “data” will be a part of all the projector reviews.

      And I’m glad you’re excited about this blog! I’m very excited too , there should be some really cool stuff happening here in the coming months.

      Hope that helps! Stay tuned for the FPS post.


  • Eli

    Another great post!

    My favorite game to play on the large screen are action/adventure games like the Uncharted series for PS3! For Xbox people, Gears of War has a similar shooting experience though both are completely different genres.

    I also loved every minute of Arkham Asylum!!

    RB3 of course is just awesome!

    • I agree, action/adventure games are great for a projector. Some give a very open RPG feel with a shooter twist…(Mass Effect 2) 😉 It’s tough to include every genre, for this blog, I lump action/adventure in with FPS or 3rd person shooters depending on the game.

  • Think Again

    Hi Pete !

    First: Welcome to projector reviews. THX for starting to cover the gaming aspect of projectors (finally). I don`t want to sound cocky or arrogant, but when reading the word “controller” in your introduction I started already to be sceptical. The reason. Gaming is a huge area. Console gaming covers only a small part regarding the use of projectors. Especially flight and racing simulations on PC have a nice head start. We are speaking of multiple projectors including warping and edge blending. To get you familiar with it, here are some links you might want to check:—5S-8dGk

    I hope that you will cover both in future articles, console and PC gaming. When PC gaming, make sure to to test 120 Hz mode with Optoma GT 720 not only in 3D, but also in 2D.

    Looking forward to your reviews

    • Thanks for the welcome!

      I’m very excited to start on the reviews.

      Yea..yea….PC and console games/gamers are two very different breeds. I don’t know how I progressed in that direction, but as you noticed, I am definitely more of a console gamer.

      I have done my fair share of PC gaming, however – And enough to understand the differences between the demands of console gaming and PC gaming. I also have friends who swear by the keyboard and mouse who I can consult if need be.

      As far as the the projector reviews, I hope to cover a broad range of topics. I really want to appeal to the hard-core gamers (like you) who know their stuff and game daily, but also need to keep the casual gamers in mind. It’s a balancing act really…

      I don’t know if we will get to multiple projector setups, warping, etc anytime soon. I have read up on stuff like that before, and would love to review a setup like that. As you probably know, just the screen for something like this is $$$. I really hope we can build this gaming section up enough to allow for those types of reviews. For the next couple months, (if you haven’t noticed) I am looking to ease into the blogs with some general thoughts on projectors and a couple of the larger gaming genres.

      Thanks again for the welcome. I hope to exceed your expectations (however low they may be for a “console gamer” ;))

      Still looking at the GT720…stay tuned!


  • Scott S

    I would say the mouse and keyboard beats a controller in pretty much every aspect. I own a PS3, and a Wii. Out of the two consoles I own, the Wii gets more playtime. I have tried to play FPS’ on the PS3, and the controls are horrible. I usually only play fighting games with an arcade stick, or exclusives like Little Big Planet, or Katamari on the PS3.

    Most home theater enthusiasts are likely to have a HTPC, which they might do some gaming on as well. I have noticed that more home theater people own the PS3 over the Xbox 360. Probably because they use it as their primary Blu-ray player. My PS3 is used for Netflix, and Blu-ray playback about 80% of the time. I actually have my PS3 hooked up to the 47″ LCD in my bedroom. I have the Wii, and HTPC hooked up to my projector for gaming. I really don’t see a point in purchasing an Xbox 360, because most of the 360’s releases are put out on the PC as well.

    The Wii is much more fun on the projector, and there is zero chance of a controller being flung and breaking an expensive LCD screen. I have 6 PC’s in my home, even though we probably don’t need that many. The main advantage of PC gaming, is it’s easy to upgrade, and you don’t have to buy a new console every few years.

    • Hey Scott,

      You bring up some great points.

      Re: Keyboard/Mouse – Two players playing the same game, one on PC with keyboard and mouse, one on a console with a controller – The PC player (provided similar skill level) will win every time. On a PC you can pan faster, aim faster and perform WAY more actions per second…just the way it is. It depends on the game, but I tend to prefer a controller…it’s what I’m used to.

      You are right PCs are much easier to upgrade…however, consoles are lasting a good 6-8 years now. I bet most people would throw at least the cost of a new console ($400-600) at a gaming PC in that amount of time. Again, I think it’s preference. I grew up with consoles because the family computer wasn’t very powerful. Also, because it was a “family” computer, everyone used it and it was hard to play for extended game sessions. It wasn’t until high school that I had my own computer and really jumped into PC gaming.

      It’s also an interesting observation PS3 vs XBOX360. You are definitely right in saying that more home theater folk own PS3 over XBOX360, the BD player is key. Even though most 360 titles are also on PC. I see way more 360s than PS3s and gaming PCs at my friends houses. Also, the XBOX360 online game play is awesome. The PS3 has caught up quite a bit, but XBOX LIVE made a name for itself early and most competitive console gaming is on the 360 (it’s where the money is).

      Wii is a whole different animal…Extremely fun on a projector for sure. But I shelf mount in a very small room and casting shadows can definitely be a problem for me. I use my Wii mostly for backwards compatibility. I love playing older titles and Nintendo has some of the greatest – Mario, F-Zero, not to mention Resident Evil 4:Wii Edition…easily in my top 10 games