PC Gamer goes all-in on one of the most important questions in gaming.
“Certainly 60 Hz is better than 30 Hz, demonstrably better,” Busey says. So that’s one internet claim quashed. And since we can perceive motion at a higher rate than we can a 60 Hz flickering light source, the level should be higher than that, but he won’t stand by a number. “Whether that plateaus at 120 Hz or whether you get an additional boost up to 180 Hz, I just don’t know.”
“I think typically, once you get up above 200 fps it just looks like regular, real-life motion,” DeLong says. But in more regular terms he feels that the drop-off in people being able to detect changes in smoothness in a screen lies at around 90Hz. “Sure, aficionados might be able to tell teeny tiny differences, but for the rest of us it’s like red wine is red wine.”
Chopin looks at the subject very differently. “It’s clear from the literature that you cannot see anything more than 20 Hz,” he tells me. And while I admit I initially snorted into my coffee, his argument soon began to make a lot more sense.
He explains to me that when we’re searching for and categorising elements as targets in a first person shooter, we’re tracking multiple targets, and detecting motion of small objects. “For example, if you take the motion detection of small object, what is the optimal temporal frequency of an object that you can detect?”
And studies have found that the answer is between 7 and 13 Hz. After that, our sensitivity to movement drops significantly. “When you want to do visual search, or multiple visual tracking or just interpret motion direction, your brain will take only 13 images out of a second of continuous flow, so you will average the other images that are in between into one image.”
Discovered by researcher Rufin vanRullen in 2010, this literally happens in our brains: you can see a steady 13 Hz pulse of activity in an EEG, and it’s further supported by the observation that we can also experience the ‘wagon wheel effect’ you get when you photograph footage of a spinning spoked object. Played back, footage can appear to show the object rotating in the opposite direction. “The brain does the same thing,” says Chopin. “You can see this without a camera. Given all the studies, we’re seeing no difference between 20hz and above. Let’s go to 24hz, which is movie industry standard. But I don’t see any point going above that.”[/quote]