Jonas, Author at Armchair Empire - Page 10 of 13

All Posts by Jonas


GenCon – A Must Attend For Gamers

If the sound of dice rolling across a tabletop is sets you to excitement, or if waiting for the frown or smile of a gamemaster keeps you in gut-wrenching suspense, GenCon in Indianapolis, Indiana is a pilgrimage that you definitely need to take. Started by Gary Gygax, the father of gaming, almost fifty years ago, you will have the time of your life at GenCon. You will be a real gaming monitor.

Every one of the big game houses is there. Mayfair games, creators of fan favorites like Agricola and The Colonists, has a huge presence. Rio Grande games, one of the biggest innovators in card games, is also one of their top sponsors. Gale Force 9, makers of the hugely popular Firefly: the Game and Star Trek: Ascension, have a large display with all the expansions available for their games. Settlers of Catan has one of the largest set ups, with all the different versions of their game, one of the most popular board games out.

If see a game you find interesting, but just aren’t certain, there are test areas, where trained staff teach you how to play the game and guide you on strategy and tactics. Sit with your friends, or make new ones while you play and learn. There, a gaming monitor will help you learn even the most complex of games.

Are you someone who knows without counting whether throwing three d4s or two d6s is the better gambit, GenCon is without a doubt the place for you. Dozens of purveyors have everything you need for your next adventure, from flashy, custom made dice, to every campaign you can imagine, to the costumes you are looking for for your cosplay. Nothing makes your quest more real than that sword or wizard’s staff your character needs to survive the wilderness.

Aside from the dealer floor, there are dozens of other exciting events. Magic: the Gathering tournaments, as well as tournaments and challenges in almost every other game genre imaginable. Exciting LARPing opportunities abound like “True Dungeon” and several others. A gaming monitor will help you through the dungeons and puzzles. Often these events sell out very quickly, so you’ll want to make signing up a priority when you arrive.

And do not miss the costumes. Heck, participate yourself. Some of the most imaginative and fun costumes appear at GenCon. Things from Steampunk Ghostbusters to a full Klingon band. Many of the attendees dress for the event, some with a different outfit every day. Commander Shepherd, Browncoats from Firefly, Deadpool, little girl Darth Vader, and Dr. Who’s Daleks are some of the most common, but one of the most fun parts of the convention is figuring out who the characters are, especially those who do really creative mashups.

Can you wait? If you are a true gaming monitor, then probably not. But if you make plans now, you can attend this annual event, usually in August. It is a place every serious gamer needs to check out whenever they have an opportunity.

Las Vegas Adds eSports Arena to Woo Gamers

eSports is on the rise, and that isn’t news to anyone around here as the NY Times reported more people watched the eSports championships than the NBA Finals last year, but we see more money get pumped into the industry every week and now Sin City is jumping into the arena (pun intended).

The most recent industry to jump into the foray is tourism as Las Vegas just unveiled a 15,000 seat esports arena.

The arena has all the features that a professional sports venue needs: stands, warm-up areas for teams, massive screens for spectators and a broadcast platform for commentators. But what distinguishes this new Las Vegas arena is its dozens of video game consoles.

The 15,000-square-foot e-sports venue slated to open Friday will host competitive video game tournaments. It’s part of a trend that the casino industry hopes will attract the millennial crowd, the 15- to 34-year-olds who are becoming majority spenders in today’s economy but aren’t necessarily interested in traditional gambling.

The stadium opened with a $50,000 Halo World Championship qualifier that was won by team OpTic Gaming (full recap here) and is hosting the Madden World Championships in the coming months. That’s good news for aspiring pro-gamers. No longer do you have to run a 4.4 40-yard dash or be 6-6 with a “wicked jump shot” as the late Notorious BIG once said, now we all have an opportunity to professional “athletes.”

All of this is all good news for aspiring pro-gamers. No longer do you have to run a 4.4 40-yard dash or be 6-6 with a “wicked jump shot” as the late Notorious BIG once said, now we all have an opportunity to professional “athletes.”

Reddit Up to Its Antics Again – Tricks Google with Potato

It is no secret the folks at Reddit like to pull some pranks and often it involves abusing the “Domain Authority” as Search Engine optimization guys call it, of If a thread in a popular sub-Reddit gets enough upvotes Google’s algorithms have a tendency to rank the content high on the search results page. In this case, the PC Master Race folks will get a kick out of this one. Searching for ‘gaming console’ returns  an image of a potato. I LOL’d

Snapchat Games?

Snapchat is scrambling to find ways to make money in-lieu of its upcoming IPO. It’s latest attempt is filter games that you play with your face on an elf. Snapchat charges a premium for these filters and its hoping people are bored enough to buy these en-masse. Not me.


Snap is also introducing games in their ads in hopes to make them more interactive.

It will be interesting to see how Snap & games evolve in advertising but how they influence the future stock price of the latest tech-darling to IPO. I would rather be on Instagram instead of playing these boring snapchat games, at least on Instagram I can actually use the app for business purposes and not just for child games. Using sites such as Upleap can help you gain more of an Instagram following if this is what you are worried about… after all it is a popularity contest…

How to Organize an X Factor-Style Karaoke Contest

Reality competition is all the rage right now, especially in the area of singing competitions. You and your friends may find yourself watching shows like The Voice or The X Factor and think about putting on your own contest in the same style. There is a lot that goes into those types of events, so we’ve simplified the process so you can just follow the instructions and have a blast.

1. Get contestants

Choose a number of singers that you would like to have, such as 10. They don’t all have to be amazing singers, just excited about the competition and they have to want to go with the flow (see number 5). These people should be able to take critique and be flexible as the competition goes on.

2. Get an audio system

The most important part to this competition other than competitors is to be able to hear the singers. If there is a low quality speaker and microphone, or no speaker and/or microphone, what is the point? In addition, since you aren’t necessarily expecting pro singing here, a laptop with lyrics to the songs is essential as well.

3. Narrow the music focus

To avoid too many types of music in the competition, challenge your participants by giving them a genre of music to choose from. One round could be rock and the next could be R&B. For a truly challenging and entertaining round, why not include a Rap round as well?

4. Choose judges

This part is incredibly important, and there is some flexibility in how you choose judges. You could choose to have them act as specific reality TV judges, such as Simon Cowell or Paula Abdul, or you can give them free reign to create their own personas. Regardless of what you choose, they must be unbiased toward the competitors and give honest, constructive feedback.

5. Choose a ranking system

Each reality singing competition show has their own way of judging contestants or selecting them to move on. You could get rolling chairs to swivel around if you’re trying to replicate The Voice, or get buzzers, to press if you’re done listening to someone, like on the X Factor. Either option could serve as the first round, and in subsequent rounds, judges could take on a format similar to American Idol or even Dancing with the Stars, where feedback is given and a number score is provided. A scale of 1-10 could help eliminate people and choose the winner as the number of contestants is lowered.

6. Have fun!

Ultimately, this competition is meant to be fun, so everyone involved, the organizers, judges and singers, should remember that and enjoy the whole process. To loosen people up, have snacks and drinks ready to go.

Super Mario Themed Pop-Up Bar

There is nothing like a little nostalgia to go along with your delicious libations and this pop up bar in Washington DC has nailed it again. They understand the power of nostalgia in marketing and have spent six weeks decorating their bar for the Cherry Blossom Festival and half of it with a Super Mario theme.

Now they’ve missed an opportunity to have toadstools for the bar seats but the rest is pretty spot-on. A reddit-user also was able to find the drink menu and it looks like you’ll pay a premium for your Yoshi-inspired booze.


How to Fix a Noisy Gaming Chair

Our friend Jerry over at Barnacules Nerdgasm posted a video today that helps with a problem I know we can all related to; Noisy gaming (or office) chairs.  Now it doesn’t bother me as much when I’m gaming but when I’m working and especially when I’m on a call with a client hearing my chair pop and click has been a pain in my side that I had no idea how to fix. In comes Jerry, he says:

I’ve discovered where the majority of the squeaking, popping and clicking noise is coming from on DX Racer, GT Omega & AK Racing gas piston gaming seats including all office chairs that use a piston to move up and down. Turns out the bearings and race just wear out and lose their lubrication and this simple video will show you how to restore your chair to perfect quiet operation in just a few minutes.

I couldn’t wait and went right to the garage to fix this rickety old chair I use every day and sure as shit his method works. If you haven’t subscribed to his Youtube channel, I highly suggest it as it’s full of interesting videos and good production quality.

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Improving FPS Without Upgrading Hardware

Game consoles have the advantage of forcing game developers to optimize their creations to meet stringent criteria. With PCs though, the variety in hardware and configuration plus software makes it an impossible task to truly optimize a game to run on all settings. Nevertheless, if you have a gaming PC that is reaching its expiry date, the first thing to do is not to upgrade your graphics card or other hardware.

Granted the graphics card is what mostly causes bottlenecks in PC gaming but it isn’t always the culprit. Before you go and install a brand new graphics card, you may want to boost fps using these five strategies first and if nothing works then maybe your hardware does need a serious upgrade.

Latest Graphics Card Drivers

It is astonishing just how many negative reviews for games come from folks who do not actively upgrade their graphics card drivers. This is probably the first area you want to investigate if you are having fps issues. Old drivers are never really a good idea if you want the best performance but people tend to forget these things. Thankfully, Nvidia makes driver update easy by prompting the user whenever a new version is available for their graphics card.

First thing to do therefore is to find out what graphics card you have and then check the Windows version running on your PC. To do this you can navigate to the Device Manager in the Control Panel and find Display adapters. It should list your graphics card model under here.

Next step is to figure out Windows version and to do this simply right click on My Computer. Then select Properties or go via the System setting in Control Panel. This tells you if you have a 32 bit or 64 bit OS of Windows.

The final step is to visit your graphics card website. This does not mean Sapphire, Gigabyte, MSI or Asus. No, instead visit the chipset maker’s website such as Nvidia, ATI or Intel. Download the drivers for your graphics card directly from the chipset maker website by selecting your card’s model number plus the operating system.

Once you have the drivers, install them and reboot your PC if you are asked to do so. In some games, simply updating from old drivers to the latest edition tends to provide a sudden 30% boost to gaming performance!

Another useful check is to see if your game has any new updates that you haven’t installed. For games that you download through Steam or Origin, this is an easy task as updates are automatically applied to the games. For any third party games that do not rely on such applications, you may have to see the game developer’s website for update details. And finally, do not forget to update Windows as this too can cause fps drops.

Optimizing In Game To Better FPS

Drivers do play a major role in game optimization but they don’t provide the greatest fps gains. This comes from proper tweaking of graphics settings within the game.

Ideally you want to run all your games at the native resolution of your monitor. For most modern age PC monitors this is 1920 by 1080 but for laptops it can be 1366 by 768 too. The simplest way to figure out what resolution your monitor works on is to simply right click anywhere on the desktop and choose screen resolution. Under the dropdown for resolutions, the highest often is what your monitor is designed to operate at. Additionally, it can have recommended written against it too.

Remember that with resolutions, lower settings will provide better frames per second but do not adjust the settings from the desktop options. Instead, enter your game and search around under the graphics settings for resolution and tweak it there.

Another in-game setting that often drains the graphics card is Anti-aliasing. AA is a handy feature that helps remove jagged lines but it is a resource hog too. Usually, you should see sliders or numbers like 2x, 4x and so on. Try with AA completely disabled and then gradually move it up. Find the sweet spot where the AA helps smoothen frames but doesn’t drastically drop the fps. Your sole objective is to maintain a fps of around 25 or more.

This particular tweak applies to every other graphics setting too such as shadows, lighting and draw distance. All of these features look great but can use a lot of resources. Unless you are adamant of a graphical show, reducing some of these options can help improve the fps to a great extent. Just make sure you spend some time tweaking the settings around.

In our experience, this is mostly a case of trial and error.

Use Benchmark Tools

Without some sort of fps readout, it can be hard tweaking your gaming experience. Most modern age PC games offer in-game FPS simulations but for those that do not come with such add-ons you can download free third-party utilities such as FRAPS. This will tell you the minimum, maximum and average fps you get. Your target again is to maintain a steady 25 fps.

Do you know why 25 fps is the standard minimum necessary frames for fluid gaming? It is because our eyes process the real world in terms of snapshots that are refreshed every few milliseconds. Anything above 25 frames per second appears as moving images to us and that’s why 25 and above is as good as 125 fps and above. Remember, fps depends a lot on what’s happening in the game. In some situations, it can drastically drop and in others it will shoot up.

Overclocking Hardware To Improve FPS

While this isn’t something you should be doing, if you know what overclocking is and how to do it, then by all means push your hardware to provide you that additional clock speed. With nearly outdated hardware, this is the last resort to squeeze some extra life out of it. The faster your graphics card, RAM and CPU operate, the more fps you can receive in-game.

The first item to overclock, if you ever decide to do so is the graphics card. It has the most direct impact on fps. Unfortunately, the option to overclock may not be evident. To overclock GPU, visit the driver utility in Windows. If you don’t find anything there then get a third-party software for the same. Most graphics card makers offer their own software for this purpose.

As for RAM and CPU, overclocking is easy as it is done through the BIOS settings. Just press Delete when your system reboots and you will be taken to the BIOS screen.

Optimization Software

Windows continues to run several programs in the background as you game and all these programs, applications eat up resources such as CPU time and memory. Using PC optimization utilities, you can cut down on resource hungry background programs when you game and thus free up resources that might help increase FPS. This however, won’t produce any significant improvement unless you truly run a lot of resource hungry background apps.

While Windows has its own optimization utilities, you could try Razer Cortex – a popular third party Windows optimization software.

  • Jonas
  • March 11, 2017
  • PC
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Elon Musk & Mark Zuckerberg Both Play Video Games And Call It Beneficial

Okay maybe we were overreaching with the title of this article but neither of the two premises are false. Yes, entrepreneurs, successful businessmen, artists and sportspersons all play video games, some even go as far as calling themselves gamers. And, yes video games are beneficial in their own way and under particular limitations. However, the question is whether the two statements can be related. Does the love for video games have anything to do with the success of these athletes and businessmen? Or is it sheer coincidence. Let’s find out…

In a recent survey conducted by ESRB, video games are growing in their popularity with nearly 67% of all US households engaging in gaming for at least eight hours each week!

There have been studies or rather observations conducted that suggest, gaming can actually help you become smarter, grow in your career and land that dream position or job. All this can be a lot of temptation to hunker down and blast through hours of Call of Duty, simply in the name of professional development but first, let’s investigate a little further.

Yes, there is a long list of famous individuals who are also high-profile gamers and their lifestyle or their life choices can make it seem as if gaming is a major part of their success but let’s be honest about this. Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg game but if that’s all they did we would not know their name! Basically, they love gaming but they understand they have a business and life to run and that’s what makes them successful. By the way, did you know that Mark got hooked to programming in general when he wrote a video game as a child?

What is undisputable is that because of such athletes, entrepreneurs and entertainers, the gaming industry has grown into a multi-billion dollar industry. However, now there is some science behind this growth and the positives of the industry too.

Granny Doesn’t Appreciate Gaming

How many times have you read some puff piece online bashing gaming and gamers in general because they are screwing up their lives? I for one have found several instances of such ridiculous posts, probably from grannies who never really got the chance to enjoy gaming as kids! Dear granny, let me tell you, science now backs the idea that gaming helps grow grey matter in the brain.

In a study from Germany conducted in 2013, it was shown how playing Super Mario 64 for 30 minutes, two months, every single day led to an increase in grey matter. Need more evidence granny? Well then how about the British Study that suggests strategy games like Starcraft can actually help improve the flexibility of the brain or that people who suffer from stroke, mental illness and autism can see improvements if they have regular gaming sessions?

This doesn’t mean that we should all start pushing our elderlies towards gaming or introduce Call of Duty to a three-year-old! No, just because something might work doesn’t mean it works across the entire spectrum. Not without concrete evidence at least and that is where gaming and science have to begin merging. There is unfortunately no proper backing of these findings and until more independent research is conducted with control environments and other necessary scientific precautions, appropriate conclusions cannot be reached.

The Naysayers And Haters Unite

There is always another side to a story and while I don’t personally support the views or conclusions drawn by the other side, it is worth exploring before saying no.

Video games deter productivity and development. Some entrepreneurs, artists and scientists believe that video games damage gamers by exposing them to violence. At the risk of sounding like a hypocrite, video games today do include a lot of violence and the most successful titles usually have to do with bloodshed and gore. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t titles released each year or even every month for children and teenagers. According to the American Psychological Association, the link between rise in aggressive behaviour and violent video games cannot be refuted. Early exposure to violent video games can lead to decrease in moral engagement, empathy and even pro-social behaviour. The correlations are sound but are video games the only factors promoting such behaviour in teenagers or is there more to it? That’s my qualm with the findings.

The American Academy of Paediatrics looked through 400 different studies and confirmed a strong link between aggressive behaviour and violent media. The conclusion they gave is that the time spent gaming can be used to create businesses, pursue dreams and even build relations.

My Take On The Debate

Thus far, I have presented the two warring factions without any bias. Let me put forward my viewpoint. First, yes games that have gore should never be played by young children. This will desensitize them as they grow up and can hamper their emotional and moral development. However, it is wrong to correlate this data and finding with the rest of the age groups. After a particular age, the emotional compass and moral compass have both grown to a certain extent that cannot be significantly altered by any means other than something catastrophic.

Having said that, I believe that gaming does improve productivity and increase brain matter. Why? Well, when you game you let go of any stress or other nagging worry in your mind. Your brain is given breathing space to relax and enjoy the work it does. Because gaming requires all your senses and your reaction, it helps improve hand-eye coordination, recollection power and even decision making. Whether you game professionally or for leisure, gaming produces those funny brain chemicals that help soothe the mind and body. The only thing it doesn’t do is give you a full body workout and that’s something that you have to work on personally.

Don’t take my words, listen to what Jeremy Wilmer, a psychology assistant professor at Wellesley College says. All the research points towards several positive factors of gaming and the potential for growth. Yes, there are studies that prove the negatives but there are equal studies to suggest improvement in cognitive abilities or the ability of the brain to store, retrieve and process information.

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Gaming PC On A Budget – The Essential Cheat-Sheet

If you’re looking for specific product recommendations after reading this piece, feel free to check out our reviews section!

A modern motherboard is like a Lego board, made easier by the labels that take up every square inch of its silicon real-estate. So, as you collect the right Lego bricks (read processor, GFX card, RAM kit and so on) and plug them into their respective places on the board, you got yourself a working system. It is that simple!

The problem however is the plethora of hardware choices and combinations out there fighting for your attention. To add to that, there is the ever-lasting argument between Intel vs. AMD processor and graphics cards. This is just the tip of the iceberg for someone wanting to build a budget gaming PC.

But, don’t fret, this cheat sheet shall give the right perspective to builds, components and much more on a budget. In other words, if you are okay with playing the latest PC games at ultra-settings (and some at high) on a 1900 x 1080 resolution HD monitor, then you’ll find this article helpful. If not, then this will seem pretty rudimentary for your liking.

Processor And Cooling Unit

From a purely gaming perspective, you shall need a discrete graphics card in any case, so features like ‘integrated graphics’ on your processor shouldn’t matter. However, the processor goes into overdrive for RTS (XCom 2), simulation (Grid Autosport), or games with adaptive utilization of computation such as Deus Ex 2: Mankind Divided. Also, multiplayer games will take more processing power.

That said, all current gen, quad core CPUs can handle modern gaming challenges. Intel core i3-7100 is a good starting point with its dual core, quad thread processing capability and 3.9GHz base clock. Its not power hungry and provides optimum cover for your affordable gaming needs.

Going up the processing-to-price scale, AMD FX-8300 is a capable processor at $105. Its an octa-core processor with 3.3Ghz base clock that ramps up to 4.2GHz on turbo. We suggest you spend on a proper cooling unit like Cooler Master’s HX-212 fan to keep this beast under control.


If you decide on Intel’s i3 processor, then you’ll should be looking for LGA 1151 socket type motherboards, in which case the likes of Asus H110M-A/M.2; MSI H110M Gaming and Gigabyte GA-H110M-A come into play. We like the MSI variant but that is more of a personal rather than a professional choice.

All three motherboards fall within the $60-$80 price band, and offer similar features like two DIMM slots with support for DDR4 RAMs; single slot for graphics card; one processor fan and one case fan connection. Depending on your budget, you could ramp up the motherboard selection to avail more bells and whistles.

As for AMD FX-8300, any good quality, AM3+ socket type motherboard will do the job. Here again, you could choose between Asus, Gigabyte and ASRock for budget motherboards in the $60-$90 range. They offer all the basic connections.

However, if longevity is in your plans, then we suggest you spend a bit more and choose between either MSI Gaming 970 or ASRock AM3 970A-G/3.1. Both gall within $90-$100 and will not wilt under heavy gaming, thanks to their build and pre-installed heat dissipation solutions.


8GB of RAM should be sufficient for most gaming requirements. So, depending on your choice of motherboard, you could either go for two 4GB sticks or a single 8GB memory module. There is a lot of choice when it comes to RAM manufacturers. So, its really a matter of preference and price ($50-$60).

However, your choice of RAM stick(s) should match your motherboard’s specs. For example, AMD based motherboards accept DDR3 RAMs whereas their Intel counterparts accept DDR4.

Another aspect is the latency if you’re employing two RAM sticks. Make sure the latency of both sticks match exactly.

Power Supply

For a budget PC build, 500-600 watts power supply should be enough. But not all PSUs are built the same and what you really ought to look for is one that gives you constant efficiency at 20, 50 and 100 percent loads. Thus, any PSU with an 80 Plus Bronze certification will cater to your budget gaming rig’s power needs effortlessly.

In the 500 to 600-watt range, EVGA 500B and Seasonic S12II 520W are two excellent choices for sub $50 PSUs. However, we like EVGA 500 W1 for builds with NVidia GTX 1050 and 1060 GFX cards, whereas Corsair’s CX600 600-watts PSU is our favorite for AMD GFX based PCs.

Graphics Card

In terms of sheer price to performance ratio, its hard to ignore the tug-of-war between Nvidia’s GTX-1060 and AMD’s Radeon RX480. Both cards come in two different GPU RAM variants. The 1060 offers a choice between 3GB and 6GB version. Similarly, RX480 comes in 4GB and 8GB variants. The pricing too varies between $200-$250.

Nevertheless, our budget winner in GFX card category has to be the GTX-1050Ti. It hits the sweet spot with its $150 price point; 4GB RAM and 1354Mhz base clock speed (EVGA model). It is just about perfect for playing classic and modern games at 1080p at high settings.

Hard Drive

As a gaming machine, 1 TB SATA hard drive running at 7200rpm will do just fine. But if you are keen upon faster load times, then you could choose a 480GB SATA-3 SSD, in which case Toshiba OCZ Trion 150 and SanDisk SSD Plus become choices worth looking at.

For a better match between speed and affordability, a combination of 128GB M.2 SSD (ADATA or Transcend) and 1TB hard-drive (WB Caviar Blue) would serve your needs and your pocket better ($100 combined).

Final Words

Discussed above are the fundamental purchases but not the only ones. There is the aspect of CPU cases, computer peripherals, monitors and the likes. We decided to leave them out because quite honestly, that discussion deserves content space of its own.

Its also worth repeating that PCs assembled with these combinations would cost between $450-$750 and cater to the 1080p gaming audience. Therefore, expecting these builds to take on 1440p, 4K or VR with style would be sheer naivety.


  • Jonas
  • March 9, 2017
  • PC