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Science Says Pro Gamers Aren't Athletes

| 8 Jun 2010 17:47
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Bad news, kids: A new study has found that although professional gamers are mentally sharp and possess lightning-fast reflexes, they will never be confused with actual athletes.

It's easy in some ways to equate pro gamers with pro athletes. The pursuit of their chosen profession requires passion and dedication, endless hours of daily practice and a dogged determination to do whatever it takes to be the best, and even then only a tiny percentage will ever actually reach the top. But while certain psychological similarities obviously exist, a study of several "elite cyber-sportsmen" performed by the University of Essex has determined that gamers, even the best of the best, are no athletes.

The gamers in the study had mental and psychological attributes similar to those of real athletes, according to Dr. Dominic Micklewright, the head of Sport, Performance and Fatigue Research Unit at the university, and reacted to visual stimuli "almost as fast as jet fighter pilots." But the wheels came off when the comparison moved to the physical end of the scale.

One "leading gamer" in his 20s who took part in the study was described as appearing "slim and healthy, with a physique similar to an endurance athlete." But things were a little less sunny under the hood: Testing revealed that he had the lung function and aerobic fitness of "a heavy smoker in his 60s," which Micklewright said was probably a consequence of being parked in front of a screen for ten hours a day. He also warned that the pro gamer lifestyle could have serious long-term effects.

"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," he said. "Screen time with children has a very strong correlation with childhood obesity and risk factors with heart disease later in life."

While Micklewright declared that the lack of physicality in gaming precluded it from being a sport, he also acknowledged that several "real" sports could be viewed in the same harsh light. "In the end sport is socially defined and there are sports, such as snooker and darts, which you might argue are on the boundary," he said. "Like videogames, these require very high levels of skill, but are relatively sedentary and not physically demanding."

Source: The Telegraph

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