Not long ago, I bought a VR headset in anticipation of the upcoming Resident Evil 4 port. (I have a problem, I know.) Since then, I’ve played a good amount of VR. Or rather, I was until it got so damn hot out that now I’d rather do anything but put a hot, sweaty VR headset on my face or sit near a large PC pumping out warm air.
This summer has seen record temperatures across the United States, even in places that have historically avoided such outrageous heat. And these heatwaves continue to hammer millions of folks, leading to fatalities. All of this is almost certainly a symptom of the ongoing effects of global warming, which is throwing our entire planet into weather-related chaos and destruction. To put it another way: Shit is bad.
I say all this to make it clear that the incredible heat we are seeing right now is serious and is hurting and killing people. Obviously, the fact that I can’t play video games comfortably is very far down on the list of problems caused by global warming. But it is still annoying, and talking to others who are experiencing this heat, it’s clear I’m not alone.
I live in Kansas, where we have luckily been able to avoid some of the higher temperatures seen elsewhere in places like Seattle. Even still, in this heat, I can’t play VR games comfortably, given how sweaty and uncomfortable the headset quickly becomes. When you factor in that many good VR games ask you to stand, move around and use motion controls, the prospect becomes even less appealing. It’s an easy way to overheat during hotter days like these. It’s a shame because I do like playing VR games like Beat Saber; I just can’t do it while temperatures hover around or over 100.
It’s not just VR that feels uncomfortable to play during these abnormally blistering times. More graphically impressive games on my PC cause extra heat to build up in my tiny home office. The latest consoles also spit out a shocking amount of hot air when you play games that push the hardware. The Xbox Series X in particular is very effective at expelling burning hot air at a rapid rate. This is very good for the console, of course. But it also means that I have a mini-jet engine cooking me alive. At least it’s quiet while I melt.
I spoke to some friends who are experiencing similar issues. Some of them are avoiding certain games on specific platforms right now because it’s too damn hot, and because running your AC all day is expensive and bad for the environment. I personally try to limit how often I run our apartment’s AC system, and if I can save some money and electricity by skipping some sessions of GTA Online, that seems like a good trade-off.
And sure, as those folks on that once-popular show often said “Winter is coming.” Well, first fall, then winter. The point is: Cooler and colder days are not too far away. But as these extreme shifts in weather and climate become more common and more extreme every year, I expect the summer months to become an even worse time to use electronics that produce tons of heat. Of course, as things get worse, being able to play games comfortably will probably become one of my lower priorities behind things like finding water, staying cool, and fighting off roving bandits hunting down any resources they can find. Still, I’ll miss playing video games.