Study: Gamers' bodies like 60-year-old chain smokers

In tests that sought to determine whether gaming is sport, a university professor finds gamers have the reactions of fighter pilots but the bodies of old chain smokers.

Some say the those who don't look after themselves are a pox on society. They eat up public resources as they eat their way through cupcake stores and drink their way through to carbonated kingdom come.

However, some of those very same critical people believe gaming is a sport.

So an intrepid university professor took it upon himself to see if he could settle this once and for all. According to the Telegraph, Dominic Micklewright, of the University of Essex in England, tested gamers' physical and physiological condition and compared them with that of, you know, real sports people who run around and look good while they're doing so.

In April, Micklewright popped along to the Gadget Show Live in Birmingham. (This happens to be the city in which my mother claims she bore me and in which I lost several illusions.) What he found almost made him want to down several bottles of wine followed by a robust curry.

He discovered that gamers had a the fitness level of a sloth. A slovenly sloth. A slovenly sloth that cannot even be bothered to slide to the fridge to get himself another Coors Light and a lump of month-old pepperoni pizza.

Naturally, that is my paraphrase. On examining one of the U.K.'s gaming elite, a man in his 20s, who is allegedly slim and athletic-looking, Micklewright put it very politely to the Telegraph: "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."

You see, this gamer, like so many others the good doctor examined, had the aerobic level and lung quality of a 60-year-old chain smoker.

The Gaming Condition? CC TelaChhe/Flickr

To some, this might seem an obvious finding for people who stare at computers for 10 hours straight. Yet there are plenty of humans in this world who sit at desks for 10 hours and still manage to throw their bodies into a gym for an hour a day in order to lose their love handles, hum along to love songs and, who knows, even find themselves some love.

Why are gamers reluctant to shift their bottoms before they become flabbier than the Greek economy?

I have a theory. Micklewright's research showed that gamers do have certain things in common with the finest of athletes. Reaction time, for example. Competitiveness, too. Their general motor skill levels are first class. Emotionally, they also exhibit little predilection for depression and they quite like themselves.

I wonder, though, whether they feel it would betray an ethos, a culture, a way of life, if they suddenly bought themselves some tight pink spandex and started spending their summers like Suzanne Somers. What gamer of any worth would twitch his pecs at a lissom lovely, when he could destroy a whole galaxy with the merest twitch of a finger?

Gaming, like baseball, was invented for those who were shunned even at elementary school, those who wanted no more to run an errand than to run 100 meters. Gaming is less a world and more an underworld. It exists to accept the exiled, the shunned, the poor, the huddled masses yearning to breathe free, even at three in morning.

In a world that prizes beauty and botox over more tangible, human values, gaming is the sport of the people played by the people, sometimes with the people you've never actually met.

It is, perhaps, the last bastion of the noble. And when did you last see a nobleman jogging around your neighborhood wearing an organic cotton, recycled Poly Dri-FIT blend "Take a hike, air-sole" T-shirt?

 

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