Area lights and the distance setting

I want to use area lights to create fairly bright, but short-range lights. I’ve played with the distance setting, however this only seems to affect the energy of the lights - if I lower the distance, the lights are too dim. If I raise the energy to compensate, the light becomes visible at a large distance again. I’ve also tried altering the gamma setting but that doesn’t seem to help much. Am I doing something wrong ?

Well it is an area light. I think you’re fighting physics.
You can try setting the "distance " which determines when the light level halves. Or use spot which can be directed.

Oh, so that’s what the distance does. I assumed it was the same as for the spot and sphere lamps. Guess I’ll have to try something else.

Nine times out of 10, physics will win, too. :Z