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My Gaming Twitch

Posted on 25th Sep 2010 at 09:47 by Joe Martin with 60 comments

Joe Martin
Once upon a time, when I was a littler boy, I used to spend my evenings watching my Dad play computer games. It started back with Amiga classics, like the Cryo’s adventure/strategy hybrid based on Frank Herbert’s Dune, but later moved to more modern games on the PC, especially the Thief games.

Despite the games my Dad played though, you couldn’t really ever consider him to be a gamer. He chose a few games and played them religiously, but he didn’t have the breadth of gaming knowledge that I have and when he played, you could see that. He manifested it physically, especially in 3D games which he sometimes found difficult to navigate.

Playing Thief: The Dark Age, for example, he would move his head to match the movements of the mouse. If he moved the mouse to tell Garret to look up then my Dad would also move his head to look up, though keeping his eyes glued to the screen. When he needed to shoot a rope arrow into some rafters overhead then he’d slowly start to point his nose at the ceiling, gazing down past his chin. Peering over an in-game cliff he’d be burying his jaw in his chest, having to open his eyes wide so he could see past his eyebrows. The constant side-to-side movements made him look like he was nursing a stiff neck, but I don’t think he was ever aware he was doing it, even when he did it really fast.

My Gaming Twitch
Roll your head and say "Aaaahh!"

Nowadays I’ve got a gaming twitch of my own, which I’ve noticed coming about only in multiplayer games. The crux of it is that, in multiplayer games where you have a melee attack, I end up lunging towards the screen as if my chair had been suddenly electrified. It’s especially evident in Modern Warfare 2, which I’ve picked up again recently. I’ll be playing along as normal, no strange head movements or anything, when an enemy will dart across my screen at point-blank range. Quick! Press Mouse 4!

And suddenly, for the duration of the time it takes to click that button, the screen increases in size and my buttocks have left my seat. Only afterwards do I realise that I’ve lunched forwards as if I was actually reaching into the screen for a sweeping knife attack.

I'm not the only one who does things like this. Harry's fingers twitch whenever he hears a guitar solo, like he's playing Guitar Hero in his head.

My Gaming Twitch
Lunging: Occasionally useful

My theory, unnecessary though it is, is that it’s borne out of immersion into the game. Like my Dad, pivoting his head around to mirror Thief’s Garret, I’m so caught up in the game that the barrier between planned action and actual response starts to fall down. Edward recently wrote that getting into ‘the zone’ is key to scoring well, but for me it’s more of a barrier for some games. I live in fear that one day I’ll become so immersed that I’ll actually lunge forwards far enough to knock my screen off the back of my desk.

The only cure that I can see so far is to either stop playing the games which have this effect, which I obviously can’t do, or to tie my neck to the chair back, which might kill me. I’m going to be forced to do one or the other eventually though, I think, unless someone else has a better idea? Surely I can’t be the only person with such an odd gaming-induced twitch?

60 Comments

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stonedsurd 25th September 2010, 10:57 Quote
I often lean to one side to when I'm trying to avoid arrows from the Huntsman in TF2.

And I'm told I grimace angrily when I'm playing Angry Birds on the bus, something that upsets the old ladies greatly.
runadumb 25th September 2010, 11:23 Quote
I remember my mates dad was the worst i've ever seen. Stand anywhere near him when playing a game and you would likely get an elbow or joypad in the face.

I used to laugh at people doing this but then I played Wipeout in first person view and my head was all over the place. I guess I do it a wee bit here and there now but that game is the only one to be so extreme.
TCoZ 25th September 2010, 11:28 Quote
Sometimes in first person shooters if someone throws a grenade at me or something like that I lean back and brace for impact, then feel like an idiot afterwards.
LeMaltor 25th September 2010, 11:51 Quote
Now you are aware of what you do you can do it and think at the same time don't move forward?
John_T 25th September 2010, 11:55 Quote
"...unless someone else has a better idea?"

Dear oh dear - secure the monitor to the desk, obviously!
Or put a (wooden) screen at the back of the desk to make sure nothing falls off.
Or rig up some nice handy netting.
Or maybe a few judiciously placed cushions in the event of a worst case scenario...

Not taking you too literally am I? :)

I think we all do this though, probably quite a lot more than we realise or would like to admit. If you really want to upset yourself, film yourself playing a game then play it back and watch it - then realise in horror that that goggle-eyed, fixed-stare loon, (supplemented with bizarre sudden twitches and contorted facial expressions) is what you look like to other people.

Regularly...
Skiddywinks 25th September 2010, 12:02 Quote
I once played the first Half Life for about 8 hours straight when I was about 13/14. After realising just how ****ing thirsty I was, I went to get some milk (I sure do love milk), and knocked over some stuff while making my way to the fridge.

Swear to God, my first thought was "F8" (or whatever the quick load key was), thinking I could just try it again more successfully.
Parge 25th September 2010, 12:17 Quote
I make a face when I'm playing shooter games. I can't help it, it just comes out!
shaunboy 25th September 2010, 12:25 Quote
Do it all the time when playing any kind of FPS where I'm about to get sniped. Especially in TF2.
GavSC 25th September 2010, 12:39 Quote
I think driving games are a good test for this. Most folk will lean into the corners especially when they see they ain't gonna make it.
feathers 25th September 2010, 13:36 Quote
I do the head and body movement when I get into a FPS. Sometimes I have tried peering over the top of an object in the game by raising my head. The body/head movement thing happens much more if you play games with a Fresnel lens in front of the screen because the lens sucks you into the game world in a way not possible without.

Having said that, I haven't used my Fresnel lens for a while. Been busy with other things.
Pete J 25th September 2010, 13:51 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by runadumb
I played Wipeout in first person view and my head was all over the place. I guess I do it a wee bit here and there now but that game is the only one to be so extreme.
Oh yes, Wipeout gets me as well, even on the PSP! I'll start tipping the screen to 'make' the craft turn better and then start wondering why I can't see the screen so well.

Although I will do slight movements in an FPS, the only other game that gets me is X3. I'll strain my neck as I 'fight' the g-forces when doing a strafing run and somehow 'feel' the sensation when I quickly have to change course to avoid a collision in a fight.
guvnar 25th September 2010, 14:04 Quote
After playing Assassins Creed 2 for lengthy periods I start to view tall buildings with a view to the nearest grip point and before you know it I'm at the top...

...then I snap out of it and carry on with my normal life!!
sstteevveenn 25th September 2010, 14:14 Quote
I've caught myself leaning to the sides to try to see things that are off the opposite sides of the screen or round a corner, as if the monitor is a window.
Throbbi 25th September 2010, 14:32 Quote
My missus (who doesn't really game outside of Nintendogs)
+ Motorstorm using a bike
+ Sixaxis turned on
+ Me and a few mates laughing until tears.

Try it ;)
Pricetx 25th September 2010, 14:42 Quote
I always used to move my head slightly as if it would somehow allow me to see more in that direction.

Then I bought trackir! :P Now I do actually see what i point my head at!
Canon 25th September 2010, 14:51 Quote
That was a reall good read, I also remember watching dad play the Amiga games and although he had a room full of floppys, more games than I will ever own, I couldn't call him a 'gamer'. He was the one that got me into Total Annihilation, the best RTS to date if you ask me.
Garfy400 25th September 2010, 15:02 Quote
Oh yeah, play Assassin's Creed for a while and every building you see you'll be looking for handholds and working out a route up :)
blink 25th September 2010, 15:09 Quote
<blockquote>knocked over some stuff while making my way to the fridge.

Swear to God, my first thought was "F8" (or whatever the quick load key was), thinking I could just try it again more successfully.</blockquote>

I've had this thought too and it freaked me way out when I realized it. It's a bit scary when you really think about it. What might one try IRL if they were convinced they had a quicksave to fall back on.
capnPedro 25th September 2010, 15:26 Quote
I start to shiver when the action gets really intense, but I think that's just the adrenaline hit.
CardJoe 25th September 2010, 15:39 Quote
The worst is when you're playing Burnout and then, when you're in a car, you start thinking about 'Hey, if I swerve into that and smash it off the road into that...'
StephenK 25th September 2010, 16:00 Quote
Back in the good old days I almost always played thief and thief 2 with the lights out in the room... and wearing a hoodie... with the hood up. Thinking back I probably should have learned how to make a hooded cloak really :p

I think I'd pay for a replacement monitor rather than loose the extreme immersion that so rarely happens.

In many ways isn't this immersion exactly what motion controlled games tried to force?
pimonserry 25th September 2010, 16:17 Quote
Does anybody else crane their neck to attempt to see over obstacles without getting sniped?
Ending Credits 25th September 2010, 16:35 Quote
I have the lunging thing in CoD4 but not MW2. Probably becasuse it's so easy to knife in MW2.
Showerhead 25th September 2010, 16:39 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by pimonserry
Does anybody else crane their neck to attempt to see over obstacles without getting sniped?
This is mine along with moving my head to the side when trying to peek round corners.
hirezo 25th September 2010, 16:53 Quote
i do a little jump when i go to knife a character in mw2, i think its more of a "oh crap. quick!" jump though lol. however getting in the zone really does make me play differently. as i only play well when im at that level of concentration... mw2 score: 58kills-3assists-6deaths

XD
Bauul 25th September 2010, 17:59 Quote
My Dad used to physically lift himself up off his chair when attempting a long jump in the original HL (especially the dreaded duck-jumps). Not only that, but he'd actually physically groan as he did it.

I don't have a twitch per sé (I just asked my other half), but apparently I do slowly digress from normal human being to a gormless drooling fool who can't close his mouth. Oh dear!
Niftyrat 25th September 2010, 18:08 Quote
I am terrible in racing games, the full lean and grip the wheel like it is going to make it faster, I even move forward in the seat sometimes like it will make it faster,

I will confess I knew I played too much rainbow six when I had developed 4 different entry plans for our office dependant on load out of team and whether silencers were employed.

I still walk down the street thinking about vantage points for urban sniping and looking for cover.

Perhaps I need help actually :)

And who doesn't duck when the see an object coming there way in a game
pimonserry 25th September 2010, 18:21 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Niftyrat
I will confess I knew I played too much rainbow six when I had developed 4 different entry plans for our office dependant on load out of team and whether silencers were employed.

That's just being prepared!
Pete J 25th September 2010, 19:34 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by capnPedro
I start to shiver when the action gets really intense, but I think that's just the adrenaline hit.
I get this too, usually after really intense boss fights. The last time I felt it was playing the new AVP and fighting the predalien as the predator. Only after I finished the battle did I notice my heart was pounding and I was shaking from the adrenaline rush.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Showerhead
...moving my head to the side when trying to peek round corners.
I do this too much :) .
JAMF 25th September 2010, 20:19 Quote
Games in which one can use TrackIR will quickly cure you of involuntary moves. More so when they use all 6 axes. :)
MaverickWill 25th September 2010, 21:22 Quote
I lean a little when turning fast in driving games. Doesn't bother me so much. Seems like everyone I konw does it to some extent.

Oh, and happy 100th blog, Joe!
Nikols 25th September 2010, 21:23 Quote
Dont worry Joe, they made wii for people like you ;-)
CardJoe 25th September 2010, 22:02 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by MaverickWill

Oh, and happy 100th blog, Joe!

Oh, yeah! :D
modfx 25th September 2010, 22:35 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by pimonserry
Does anybody else crane their neck to attempt to see over obstacles without getting sniped?

Been there on de_dust2 many a time :)
EdwardTeach 25th September 2010, 23:23 Quote
Definitely do this sometimes. In a tense game like mount & blade I find I lean very close to the screen and I am very animated as I am dodging axed blows.
Canon 25th September 2010, 23:44 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by modfx
Been there on de_dust2 many a time :)

I bring my face right close to the screen when attempting to catch CTs at double doors.
Skiddywinks 26th September 2010, 00:09 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by pimonserry
Does anybody else crane their neck to attempt to see over obstacles without getting sniped?

I do duck a lot in such circumstances.

*BANG* "...why am I on the floor?"
Combatus 26th September 2010, 00:20 Quote
Should I be worried about this twitch developing into something more violent, seeing as I sit opposite you?
Muaadib 26th September 2010, 01:33 Quote
I dropped a cup once, then stared at it frustrated while my left hand's ring finger twitched rapidly...

After a while i remembered i just finished braid last night....
Fizzban 26th September 2010, 02:10 Quote
In racing games and FPS games I do sometimes lean going around corners ect. Kinda funny really. Also if I play a game often enough, I will start having dreams about it. Usually happens with MMO's (Anything I play endlessly).
Star*Dagger 26th September 2010, 11:58 Quote
I actually worked all this out by Quake 2 where I would lower my heart rate and be a stone cold killer.
RedFlames 26th September 2010, 12:57 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fizzban
In racing games and FPS games I do sometimes lean going around corners ect. Kinda funny really.

I know leaning wont make the car turn more or make my character lean out the way of the incoming rocket... nor will my shouting at the [usually useless] friendly AI stop them mothing any and all incoming fire...

... but i end up doing it anyway
MorpheusUK 26th September 2010, 15:14 Quote
sounds like you would all benafite from TrackIR
http://www.naturalpoint.com/trackir/

http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=trackir&aq=f

I once built a home made rig using a few LED from a bicycle lamp and a web cam., I didn't look as bad as this guy as I used an old pair of sunglases frames and a base ball cap
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mBAqO4X-abQ

But here's a project you could try
http://forums.ubi.com/eve/ubb.x?m=15310285&a=tpc&s=400102&f=49310655&q=Y&p=1
MorpheusUK 26th September 2010, 15:29 Quote
there's also freetrack
wuyanxu 26th September 2010, 16:36 Quote
wow, TrackIR would be perfect for my racing games. i lean left to right in racing games, and tilt my head in flying games.
Deadpunkdave 26th September 2010, 17:47 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Skiddywinks
I once played the first Half Life for about 8 hours straight when I was about 13/14. After realising just how ****ing thirsty I was, I went to get some milk (I sure do love milk), and knocked over some stuff while making my way to the fridge.

Swear to God, my first thought was "F8" (or whatever the quick load key was), thinking I could just try it again more successfully.

Simlarly, after an epic MW2 session, I went outside, saw a plane overhead and looked for cover.
Xir 27th September 2010, 13:09 Quote
Sooo, 2 conclusions.

1) this behaviour is normal :D
2) Joe should get a car chair and apply seatbelts ;)
BRAWL 27th September 2010, 13:31 Quote
The only time I've ever seen this was my dad playing Total Driving when I was younger and full on twisting the PSX controller to each side to 'turn' the car... six axis would make him a genius of a racer these days!

I think the only thing that's ever go me like that was a comment I made after playing Silent Hill of which was walking around dark places in my house for fear of scaring myself witless +shrugs+
cjmUK 27th September 2010, 14:02 Quote
Like many others, I'll confess to being guilty-as-charged. I've known for long time that leaning over my chair makes cars/planes turn faster, as does pressing the directional buttons harder on a Rumplepad.
Sloth 27th September 2010, 18:29 Quote
Thankfully not in the leaning boat, but I've got my own quirky habbits for gaming. The most annoying and embarrassing one is when I get startled. It happens the most in Minecraft, I'll be happily building away and being so sucked into placing all the blocks right and what not that when an arrow hits me I'll jump like a little sissy girl. Often spins my mouse around and sends my headset cable flying.

That and the temperature I play at is a bit odd. Normally I hate high temperatures, but when gaming I'll often find my room at 80F+. Anything under 65 and I'll feel a bit chilly and turn on a heater.
Krayzie_B.o.n.e. 28th September 2010, 04:49 Quote
After playing Stalker Shadow of Chernobyl for a week straight. I started eating mass quantities of tubed Summer Sausage

when my character is ducked down I find my self sitting up tall in my chair to peep around what ever my character is hiding behind.

When I'm at work using the computer I always put my left fingers on the W,A,S,D, Cap lock Space bar instead of normal typing position.
DLDeadbolt 28th September 2010, 17:21 Quote
HAHAHAHA
Oh man that is all so close to the truth for me.

Racing games I lean in corners

FPS / 3rd Person, always lean over to look around corners or over obstacles, even going so far as to turn my head to try catch the sounds clearer.
Airplanes, always seem to tilt forward or backwards in dives/climbs/etc

I do happen to grunt alot in games (like when swinging a weapon at enemy, etc) or groan or just general noises

I often find myself start to get up when I have to make a jump.

Often find myself looking at buildings or around rooms, judging best ways to escape/scale/gain entrance/places to plant bombs/best cover/etc (but that could also have something to do with me studying a lot of military tactics growing up, both modern and ancient)
Fizzban 28th September 2010, 19:30 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by DLDeadbolt
Often find myself looking at buildings or around rooms, judging best ways to escape/scale/gain entrance/places to plant bombs/best cover/etc

Stealth games make me do this. I start looking at my environment like I'm going too try and sneak through it.
hyperion 28th September 2010, 23:47 Quote
Moving your head in the direction you want to go makes your character move faster. Sometimes when I respawn with the basic weapon and there someone with all the powerups camping that spot I have to restrain myself from throwing my mouse through the screen for lack of a better weapon.
bagman 29th September 2010, 00:08 Quote
i don't have a twitch but i have a gaming face of mass concentration, my mum says i look scary when i am gaming and i am doing well, she says i look quite stern

this only really happens in FPS games like cod 4 and 6
Somebody_007 29th September 2010, 08:02 Quote
I Just concentrate very hard ans sit still. And I finish of my enemies, but once I start getting killed by random grenades and other frustrating things or I just start dying then all hell breaks loose. I lean forward in my chair very close to my screen. And start getting frustrated and start swearing :p.
stoff3r 29th September 2010, 20:08 Quote
So much LOL-moments in the comments here :)


I only do the grenade-avoiding stretch some people have told about.

My girl played L4D2 for the first time ever, and had dreams of killing and dying that night.
Niftyrat 1st October 2010, 19:10 Quote
I have also noticed since this article a peculiar tendency to try braking when in the passenger seat of the car.

That and closing my eyes when I know I am going to get shot
Grimloon 1st October 2010, 22:21 Quote
Maybe not a twitch per se but I always have to be on push to talk with voice comms as when gaming I swear like a trooper with a bad head!

Other than that I do the typical lean on racing games and tend to scrunch own in the chair when trying to find cover. I do move my head around a lot but that actually works well for me as I use a triple screen set up where supported.
benjjamin 5th October 2010, 13:08 Quote
I used to move my head round to see round corners, it started when i was playing metal gear solid on the ps1 although i dont do it as much now . other than that i cant think of any at the moment.
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