Poll Question 150 – Do you play fullscreen or windowed?

14th December 2009

Single Player First Person Shooter Maps and Mods for Half-Life 1, 2 and Episodes 1, 2 and 3

Firstly, sorry for being a few days late with this poll – I was in bed ill for most of the weekend and I have to admit I kinda enjoyed the rest!

I was talking to William and Emanuel from Podcast 17 a few weeks ago, just before we started recording and we could hear Emanuel playign a mod. he said he was windowed and William said he also plays windowed.

I can’t really enjoy a game that way because it takes away the immersion for me. It’s like eating chicken whilst watching a TV show about battery farming – By seeing the winodw I remember I am playing a computer game.

What about you?

The Poll


  1. AI

    Full screen only! With the monitor I recently got (23″ HD) I can play in 1920×1080 and all settings on max! Even “Strider Mountain” looks and plays better!! 😉

  2. Why would anyone play in windowed mode? Kills the immersion, but also makes me wonder if you are really interested in playing the game.

  3. RunningJack

    recently I often play in windowed mode, just to use messangers quickly or changing music tracklists… its just faster than alt-tab.
    But when I want to enjoy the atmosphere of a game I switch to fullscreen.

  4. Full screen. When I hear an incoming message – pause and hit the Windows button.
    Game minimises to the bottom tray.
    Do the biz, maximise and play on.

  5. I use windowed only for the SDK, otherwise full screen

  6. Fullscreen and Widescreen on a 32″ TV/Monitor.
    Love it!

    1. Holy Headcrabs! 32″. How far do you sit from the screen?

    2. 32″!! That’s bigger than my TV!

  7. Hardcore

    man!! 32″ ..! you must be blind already hahahaha…. I play in full screen, windowed you get distracted 😛

  8. I only play windowed for things that aren’t aren’t big on action like Monkey’s Island. I used to play Baldur’s Gate 1&2 windowed because it couldn’t handle a non 3:4 ratio monitor without being horribly stretched out, but my laptop has a auto screen ratio thing that puts bars along the sides or bottom of the screen if the ratio of the game I’m playing doesn’t match that of my monitor. Also for Baldur’s Gate specifically a mod came out recently that allows you to manually set it for pretty much any dimensions that are above 800×600 so it now runs at the full 1440×900 that my monitor allows.

    I find that most of the games I play on my laptop(Half Life 2, Psychonauts, Tomb Raider Anneversary & Legend) all run pretty reasonably at 720×480 dimensions, and I end up with thin black bars at each side of my screen, but nothing is stretched out of place, and I get reasonable framerate on all of them, so I’m satisfied.

    I find that, particularly for first and third person action/adventure, games tend to be more immersive in full screen provided that things aren’t horribly stretched out. Though I think this is as much because other distractions are hidden from view. Widescreen is much nicer simply because it allows more peripheral vision to be used and it cuts down on the sensation of tunnel vision in FPS drastically.

    1. Has anyone else noticed if a game seems to run slower when it’s run in a window?

      1. RunningJack

        yes it does, it’s even proven

  9. I play in fullscreen only. Same reason as Phillip and others mentioned, immersion. Sometimes I even image the smell of the environments, damp basements, smoke, concrete and such.

  10. ANonEntity

    I thought windowed mode was a bug. lol!

  11. you lose the experience when you play in windowed mode. Same thing happens if you dont play with headphones on your head…you just dont get the whole experience.

    Of course, a mod has to focus on sound to make it worthwhile. But full screen is a must for a serious gamer

  12. It depends. If I’m playing a single player game, I’ll play it in fullscreen. But when I’m playing a multiplayer game with friends, and I’m on Ventrilo and all that, I play in windowed mode.

  13. Zanpa

    Windowed with “noborder” option enabled. It takes all the screen, but you can alt+tab from and to the game just as if it were windowed (ie instantly).

    Best of both worlds ! I didn’t vote, of course.

  14. Wozzle

    I only play with fullscreen with games that support widescreen (which is just about everything now). For some of the older titles that only support the 4:3 ratio, I play windowed because I find the desktop border less disruptive to the immersion than the awkward stretching.

    1. If you have an nvidia or ati graphics card, you may want to check and see if it supports a feature called flat panel scaling (at least that’s what Nvidia calls it) If you set this to fixed aspect ratio scaling, then it will put black bars along the edges so that when it stretches the image it doesn’t get distorted at all.

  15. beaner3114

    i rarely play windowed. it does kind of kill the mood but I don’t think headphones are the way to go for sound I have surround sound setup (old dvd player that had surround sound capabilities with an AV to 1/4 in jack adapter) and I find that I feel more in the game this way than with headphones.

  16. S. Donahue

    I play most games in full-screen, but I play Torchlight windowed. I turn the sound off and listen to Podcast 17, the Joystiq Podcast, etc.

  17. Casey

    Windowed, I’d rather have a great game running at 640×480 in a window with all of my graphics settings set to the maximum and have it running fluidly than have it fullscreen with almost no visual love.

    Yes, my computer isn’t great, but I always prefer playing games in windows. Fullscreen games (with the exception of consoles) annoy me greatly.

    1. You may want to reconsider that stance. When you run a game windowed, your video card/cpu have to handle rendering both the game AND your desktop, even if there isn’t anything else happening on your desktop.
      Running in full screen at the same graphical settings, including display resolution, should actually run more smoothly than running in windowed mode. You should only get a boost in windowed mode if you are using a lower resolution than you would in fullscreen (for instance if you run 640×480 in windowed, but 800×600 in fullscreen)
      You may want to try running full screen, but still set your graphic options to display in 640×480, unless you have a widescreen monitor that would cause distortion. Even then I find that most recent games that need lower video settings to run smoothly still generally have some sort of support for widescreen mode, even if it’s just a matter of choosing 720, instead of 640, by 480. You should then be able to set your other graphical settings just as high as what you did in windowed mode and actually have it run more smoothly.
      I’ve found this site discusses the issue a little. Not everybody gets hit as hard by running windowed, and a few actually do get a boost, but I’m not sure if they’re running a smaller resolution window than they would in full screen, or if it’s just different computers handle the desktop in different ways.

  18. Berrie

    Most games I play are full screen. You are more into the game that way.

    Occasionally though I play something windowed.
    Mostly it’s older stuff than doesn’t support large resolutions.

  19. Well, actually I do both. I play full-screen if I’m playing to enjoy the game. I play windowed if I’m mapping so I can easily switch between the game and the editor.

  20. Sortie

    I play in fullscreen on my 19″ LCD on 1280×1024. I only use windowed mode for development, where quick switching back and forth is required.

  21. What question ist this!
    Everyone who plays half life windowed needs to get banned from games 😀

  22. svbg869

    I play windowed, for a simple reason
    my machine is old, and source has a habit of crashing at random intervals
    if I’m windowed the crash goes over (more like lag) in 30 sec to 1 min, or crashes to desk top in 1 – 1.5 mins.
    if I’m full screen, it takes longer to get out of it XD

    and the whole multitasking argument when mapping

  23. RustySpannerz

    I play most games in fullscreen but I test maps in windowed and I play garry’s mod in windowed.

  24. Barnz

    GoldSrc, windowed 800×600
    Source, fullscreen 1024×768 (windowed 800×600 when testing something)

  25. Always full screen, never windowed “cuz it simply kills the game’s atmosphere. 🙂

  26. Talon

    I always play in full screen to maximize the immersion factor.

    The only time I ever use windowed mode is if I’m having technical problems with a game. Using this mode seems to lessen the frequency of my system freezing up. This isn’t needed with HL2 though.

  27. jjawinte

    I only play FS as I set aside a time when I don’t intend to be interrupted with an IM or sum such.But at work it’s windowed of course.(Ever tried to play during a video conference in FS ?
    Damned annoying, all the interruptions!

  28. tymaxbeta

    without a full screen of that Half Life goodness, how can one possibly enjoy that amazing experience and have full immersion? The answer is simple, you can’t. If you haven’t played it full screen, you haven’t played it at all…

  29. Unless it’s running crappy full screen..46″..lol

Leave a Reply

Comment Formatting Guide

Well formatted comments are much easier to read. Please copy and paste the HTML Tags to use in your comment

  • HEADER: <div class="fix"></div><div class="sbe3">TEXT HERE</div>
  • BOLD: <strong>TEXT HERE</strong>
  • ITALIC: <em>TEXT HERE</em>
  • SPOILER: <span class="spoiler">TEXT HERE</span>