Chromatic Aberration in Games: Exploring the Art of Distortion

Lindsay Hayes

Chromatic aberration is a visual effect that fades objects' edges. It does this by refracting the light that hits them and almost makes what you're looking at hazy. Contrary to what some users think, it doesn't affect the frame rate, but only adds a blurring effect.

Whether you switch chromatic aberration off or not is completely up to you. But as someone who's prone to motion sickness, it makes me feel nauseous, especially on more fast paced games, like Dying Light.

So, if you want to know everything about how chromatic aberration is used in games, and some additional information, you can read ahead.


What is Chromatic Aberration in Games?

Chromatic aberration is a graphical effect that causes light to refract off objects which makes them blurry. It's based on a photography phenomenon that has the same exact principle. Depending on your personal preference, you might end up liking the effect. But I personally am not a fan of it.

On most games, it comes pre-installed. So, you'd see it in certain scenes to emphasize that something is wrong with the user. Probably the best example I can think of is Cyberpunk 2077 using it to show that your brain chip is faulty. But on certain games, it's used to show that you have been drugged.

The thing is, the motion blur effect can cause users to feel sick. As I said, I've personally struggled with this and ended up disabling it.

Even if the effect isn't used on the game you're playing, you might be able to switch it on from your game's graphics settings. If you do this and lower the visual effects intensity, you can mask poor game image quality if you happen to be using a lower end PC.

Player with Headphones Playing Online Live Game

Does Chromatic Aberration Affect Performance in Video Games?

No, chromatic aberration does not impact your gaming performance. It's a blurring effect that's added to already rendered images, so there's no extra calculation going on.


Answered below are some popular questions.

1. What Are Film Grains in Games?

Film grain is a video game effect that adds more texture to the scene, which almost makes it look older. It's a great way to hide bad graphics when gaming on lower-end PCs. If you were thinking of using chromatic aberration for this, I'd recommend the grain artistic effect instead, as it won't potentially cause your head to hurt.

2. What is Bloom in Video Games?

Bloom is another visual effect that's added to games. Another name for it is light bloom, and it essentially causes light to scatter, almost like a halo effect around characters and objects. You can switch it on or off from the game's settings. I'm not a fan of having it switched on, though, as it can be very distracting as you'll be stuck with camera lens flares on your screen.

Although it's the name of a visual effect, "bloom" is also the name for a common gunplay mechanic in shooter games. A lot of newbies end up confusing the two terms.

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Final Thoughts

Chromatic aberration is a photography effect that causes light to refract, which makes that same point hazy. Game developers add it as an effect in certain niche scenarios to signal that something is wrong. The thing is, the refraction from the chromatic aberration can cause your head to hurt.

On some games, you can switch it on through the graphics settings bar if it's not already running. However, whether you should do this or not is debatable. You'll completely take away from all the hard work that the game developers put into the game (due to the blurriness from the feature). Also, you might not be able to focus on rounds, as the screen would look like you're in a camera lens.

Hopefully, you found all of the points that were run through useful.

Lindsay Hayes

Hi, I’m Lindsay, a techie from Kansas City. That’s right; I’m a born and bred Midwesterner. I learned to take electronics apart at my dad’s GameStop way back when, and I haven’t stopped since. I spend most of my time checking out new gadgets.
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