A recent study has indicated that professional PC gamers--or rather l33t cyber-athletes who rack in the big bucks--have the reactions of fighter pilots but the bodies of 60-year-old chain smokers. Using a series of physical and psychological tests, the study was conducted to determine if PC gaming could actually be defined as a sport.
Dr. Dominic Micklewright, the University of Essex's head of Sport, Performance, and Fatigue Research Unit, compared cyber-athletes to real-world athletes in various tests. The results showed that the gamers has the mental sharpness and psychological traits comparable to physical athletes, however their fitness levels were "shockingly low."
Case in point: one unnamed professional gamer was in his twenties, and in appearance alone seemed slim and healthy with a physique similar to an endurance athlete. But when the champion gamer was put through physical tests, he wasn't quite as healthy as he appeared, revealing lung functions and aerobic fitness comparable to a chain-smoker in his sixties.
Naturally, Dr. Micklewright blames the amount of time sitting in front of the PC as the culprit behind the gamer's overall health. "Someone of this age should be much fitter, but perhaps this is the occupational hazard of the professional gamer who can spend around 10 hours a day in front of a screen," he said. "It is always difficult to say how these things will develop, but it could have long term health implications such as an increased risk of heart disease."
However despite the physical differences, the doctor was surprised to see that gamers actually shared many characteristics with athletes. These include reaction times, motor skills, competitiveness and emotions. With that said, is PC gaming classified as a sport?
"Gaming shares some characteristics with sport because both are competitive, skill-based and governed by structured rules," he explained. "But the main distinction which precludes gaming from being a sport is the lack of physical exertion. However, in the end sport is socially defined and there are sports, such as snooker and darts, which you might argue are on the boundary. Like video games these require very high levels of skill, but are relatively sedentary and not physically demanding."
Sounds like a borderline yes.