On Being Physically Unable To Play Overwatch

Overwatch has always felt off to me. Somehow, it is both still new but also really old. At the same time. And while I wouldn’t call it a spiritual successor for Team Fortress 2, Overwatch has done some pretty cool things. It has a unique e-sports scene, a ton of heroes and a pretty fair model for lootboxes. And the gameplay is somewhat reminiscent of a chaotic TF2 server.

Yet, unfortunately, I have never been able to experience any of this.

I literally can’t play Overwatch.

I promise, I’ve tried. As of writing, I even have Overwatch installed. But I simply cannot actually play the game. After about five minutes of playing, I lose the ability to concentrate and I start to get a headache. If I ignore that headache, it gets worse and worse until I stop. After I stop playing Overwatch, the headache gradually fades away.

The headaches are pretty bad as well, mostly behind the eyes. If I haven’t been playing for long (less than 5 minutes) then the headaches do fade as soon as I turn the game off. But no matter what, if I play, I get a headache. It’s pretty awful.

Can’t watch it either.

The bigger problem is that this translates to watching Overwatch as well. I discovered this after watching aabicus’s recordings of Overwatch, as well as the cool livecasts he did for smaller leagues. However, I can get away with watching for longer. It takes about 15 minutes for the headaches to start, but that’s mostly because I can look away for brief periods of time.

However, watching people’s streams is still tricky. One start-up group I follow, a bunch of nice guys called Squad Goals, often use Overwatch on their game nights since “everyone has it”. Sadly, I often sit these nights out (or lurk in their discord voice chat). I simply can’t deal with the headaches. If I take a five minutes on, five minutes off approach, I can watch more videos in one sitting. But at that point, I wonder why I’m bothering.

I don’t really know what causes it.

I’m frankly at a loss as to why Overwatch gives me such bad headaches. In fact, it’s pretty much the ONLY game to give me headaches in a repeatable manner. Sure, I’ve had headaches playing other games. Destiny 2 also gave me headaches until I turned the settings down and turned Bloom off. Warframe almost certainly causes headaches if I play for more than 2 hours without taking a break.

However, I do think it’s multiple things, all happening at once. Overwatch IS a very bright and flashy game. Even with bloom turned off and settings turned low, there is a LOT going on all at once. But I believe the biggest culprit is the HUD. The HUD is insanely flashy and draws my attention all over the place. Every time someone dies, there’s a flash of white or red. The HUD is also a rather bright white too. Combined with everything else that’s going on, it becomes a recipe for disaster.

It’s a real shame though. I do think Overwatch is pretty neat, and I’d probably actually play it if it didn’t cause me pain. But I’ve kinda moved on from competitive PvP, that boat has sailed.


Medic, also known as Phovos (or occasionally Dr Retvik Von Scribblesalot), writes 50% of all the articles on the Daily SPUF since she doesn't have anything better to do. A dedicated Medic main in Team Fortress 2 and an avid speedster in Warframe, Phovos has the unique skill of writing 500 words about very little in a very short space of time.

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