Any avid gamer can imagine what the benefits of a vibrating gaming chair might be.
A quick zap in your seat will allow you to feel every impact, every bump, jolt, punch, shock, or shot your character in the game might feel. In addition to adding a subwoofer, or surround sound, it's an excellent way to make for a more immersive experience.
But, many gamers have discovered that the idea is not always the same as the reality.
Here's a little something about how the chairs work, and a summary of the most common complaints about them.
How They Work
Vibrating gaming chairs are equipped with motors somewhere in the seat or back to provide the vibration. These motors are often part of an intricate system of stereo or surround sound speakers, also built into the chair.
Certain bass frequencies in the audio from the game are associated with explosions, gun-fire, crashes, and other kinds of impact. These sounds are then translated into vibration signals and sent to the motors vibrate the chair, giving you tactile feedback and a sense of being in the game.
Some gaming systems are designed to send a specific vibration signal to the controllers, but not all chairs will interpret that signal.
Complaints About The Chairs
The popularity of these chairs suggests that the vast majority of people who buy one love them. A quick peek at the reviews online at Amazon will be evidence of that.
However, there are a large number of bad reviews, and most of them tend to complain about the same few points: Volume, Audio-syncing, vibrator position, and health concerns.
Volume — On some chairs, users have found that they have to turn the volume way up past a comfortable level before the vibrators kick in. While this is probably not a problem for teenagers or the hard of hearing, adults that have grown sensitive to loud noises might find this to be nuisance.
Audio-Syncing — Because some of these vibrating systems are based on the calculated interpretation of the sounds in the game, it won't always sync with the right sounds. If the game isn't programmed with the right kind of audio to set off the vibrators, you'll miss a shake or two. Or, the vibration might come a little late.
Vibrator Position — Where the vibrators are placed in the chair will have a different effect on your experience. Each chair is different. Some will place the vibrators in the seat, others in the seat back, some in both. Complaints online are mostly that users were expecting a full-body vibration, but only feel it in their lower-back or butt. Sometimes these particular locations are uncomfortable, as with certain health concerns, below.
Health Concerns — These complaints are not so much about the chairs as they are about how some people's bodies respond to the vibration. Users with particular health conditions such as kidney stones, certain kinds of back pain*, or hip-joint problems have found that the vibrations increase their discomfort or pain. Sometimes the proximity of the vibrators in the chair, as mentioned above, will be directly related to the effect, but often any vibration in the body will have the same uncomfortable results.
*(On the positive side of the effects of the vibration on health, I found this article online about how a gaming chair actually alleviated one man's discomfort from back pain and lumbago.)
Most people enjoy the immersive effects of playing in these vibrating chairs. But they're not for everybody.
If you're sensitive to loud noise, or to vibration in certain parts of your body, then a vibrating gaming chair may not be for you.
Do you have any questions, or an experience with one of these chairs that you'd like to share? Add to the discussion by posting a comment below!