Every few months, someone points out that videogame lamps use real electricity, and another round of people go “huh, I guess that is true, isn’t it?” It shouldn’t be a surprising observation, because displaying anything on a screen requires electricity (with caveats (opens in new tab)), and yet there’s an eeriness to the idea. It’s slightly strange when virtual worlds seem to cross into the physical world like that. I don’t know if there’s a term for the phenomenon, so I’ll call it “glure,” which stands for “game lamps use real electricity.” (Be glad I didn’t go with “ludolūcēs consonance” or something.)
Battlefield 2042’s second season introduces another common glure effect. The culprit is also light source: concussion grenades. Like similar grenades in other games (stun grenades, flashbangs, etc), they turn the screen white to simulate exposure to a bright flash. What makes it a glure is that the brightness of the white screen can over-stimulate the actual player’s eyes, causing the virtual flashbang to act like a real flashbang, albeit an extremely weak one. (All you need to know about the real deal is that their brightness is measured in “megacandelas.”)
Most things are weak compared to tactical assault weapons, though. A white screen can sting anyone who’s playing in a dark room, and sensitivity to light (sometimes called “photophobia,” I’ve learned) varies between people. Bright lights can also trigger migraines. Presumably for those reasons and more, DICE also added a setting to Battlefield 2042’s accessibility menu which lets you change the concussion grenades’ white light to a black field. It’s dark mode for flashbangs, basically. You can see the setting in action in the clip above.
I like it. The whole “videogame lamps use real electricity” thing is hard to avoid, but otherwise, I don’t think videogames should be allowed to synchronize with reality too much. Examples of glure may feel like harmless novelties right now, but for how long will that last? We started making fun of “Press F to pay respects” by pressing F to pay our respects to everything, but now people unironically press F to pay respects, so if you go back and play Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare today, it probably does feel like you’re paying your respects by pressing F, which is kind of funny—until one day you sacrifice a fleet of videogame spaceships to win an interplanetary war and all the military commanders start cheering because guess what? It was all real. Not so funny anymore.
The concussion grenades and new setting are among the smallest aspects of Battlefield 2042’s second season I could’ve fixated on, so I appreciate whoever at DICE captured the demonstration clip I asked for. (I’m afraid I didn’t have time to unlock the grenade for myself this week.) Aside from a grenade type, the season adds a new map, specialist, guns, and other stuff that I wrote more about here.
My final observation is that, although I’ve established that I’m anti-glure, a grenade that sucks up light is kind of scary, too.