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What Gamers Have In Common With Top Athletes 201

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the we're-all-totally-xtreme dept.
nk497 writes "It's no surprise that professional gamers aren't quite as fit as elite athletes, but they do have something in common. According to a British academic, top-level players show similar psychological attributes as top athletes, such as the ability to manage anxiety, and have reaction times on par with fighter pilots. Dr. Micklewright said, 'When I first got asked to do [the study], my initial reaction was "don't be ridiculous, gaming is nothing like sport." But the more I thought about it, the more similarities [became clear], and I became more and more convinced that it was close in many ways to sport.' While sitting in front of a screen might not have the same physical demands as running a marathon, neither do playing snooker or darts. Still, while gamers show good reflexes, their health was worse than expected, with one 20-something professional player showing the same aerobic health as a 60-year-old smoker." This story is based on a BBC radio report which you can currently hear, although that link seems to say that it won't last.
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What Gamers Have In Common With Top Athletes

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  • by TheKidWho (705796) on Tuesday June 08, 2010 @12:52PM (#32497852)

    I may be a gamer, but my right hand has the stamina of an 18 year old!

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      But you're 12!
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Locke2005 (849178)
      Yeah, but you have to watch out for those Repetitive Stress Injuries.
  • by jack2000 (1178961) on Tuesday June 08, 2010 @12:57PM (#32497986)
    Bah, who needs em. I'm going to have better sports. With blackjack,alcohol and hookers. Infact forget the sports.
    • by Kjella (173770)

      Just define blackjack to be a sport, it's certainly no worse than poker. One down, two creative rewrites to go.

      • by jack2000 (1178961)
        How about some sort of sport where the higher the alcohol count in your blood the higher the bonus to your score is. The thing you are expected to do while seriously drunk should be something that gets harder the drunker you are.
        I'd certainly watch that, considering i don't care much for normal sports.
  • Unpopular answer (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DaveV1.0 (203135) on Tuesday June 08, 2010 @12:59PM (#32498024) Journal

    They both get overpaid to play a game.

    • Re:Unpopular answer (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Aladrin (926209) on Tuesday June 08, 2010 @01:02PM (#32498096)

      I was going to go for something more along the lines of "both serve no purpose to society other than entertainment", but yours fits, too.

      On the other hand, are they the 'top athletics' and 'top players' because they have the coordination and ability to handle stress, or did becoming the 'top X' cause them to gain these abilities? I suspect it's the former and they served only to train them a bit.

      I'm a diehard gamer, but I'm not foolish enough to think it's anything other than pointless entertainment, just like almost all hobbies.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by somersault (912633)

        I'm a diehard gamer, but I'm not foolish enough to think it's anything other than pointless entertainment, just like life.

        TWGFTFY :P

    • by geekoid (135745) <dadinportland@yBLUEahoo.com minus berry> on Tuesday June 08, 2010 @01:07PM (#32498206) Homepage Journal

      define overpaid.

      They get what they can get. They bring in a lot of money to the owners, why not charge that much?

      • by CannonballHead (842625) on Tuesday June 08, 2010 @01:23PM (#32498524)
        Overpaid: the quality or attribute of someone else being paid more than I am.
      • by mcgrew (92797) *

        In the case of major league sports, I'd say making more money than the President of the United states makes is way overpaid, considering the weight on that man's shoulders.

        • But you can't just think of the paycheck, you also have to consider the total compensation package. In the case of the President, his salary and responsibilities come with things like free housing, personal aircraft, and having the worlds most powerful military calling him Sir.
      • by westlake (615356)

        They get what they can get. They bring in a lot of money to the owners, why not charge that much?

        The promoter has always known that the star attraction is his best guarantee of success at the box office. Mark Twain's satirical playbill for the Roman Coliseum didn't stray too far from the truth. The Innocents Abroad [about.com]
        [1869, Chapter 26]

      • Overpaid my ass. Esports are not mainstream enough for all but a few to be paid to play. The sponsors haven't quite woken up to reality yet. Take the HDH invitational [youtube.com] : every single game had more than 100,000 views, yet the prize pool was a mere $2500, and that was apparently the largest prize pool for a foreign starcraft tournament.
      • by bitt3n (941736)

        define overpaid.

        makes as much as or more money than I do

    • by dward90 (1813520)
      How much money do professional gamers make? A friend of mine played top-tier MLG games for money for a while, but he barely covered his travel expenses. Assuming 8-hour days, he didn't even make minimum wage. How many gamers make enough money that gaming is their only source of income? Athletes? Hint: there are way more athletes.
    • by StikyPad (445176)

      They're both whiny bitches with overinflated egos?

  • by ndogg (158021) <the...rhorn@@@gmail...com> on Tuesday June 08, 2010 @01:02PM (#32498084) Homepage Journal

    Since it's been shown that aerobic exercise can improve reaction time [nih.gov], I can't help but wonder how much better of gamers they would be if they also exercised a bit as well. They wouldn't need to go to a gym. Just some running, or crunches, or something on a regular basis would help, I would bet.

    • If only there were a game system that encouraged mild physical activity...
      • I don't think mild physical activity like that promoted in some Wii games helps all that much. It's better than nothing, especially if you're a pensioner, but I don't think it'll increase your reaction times.


    • Since it's been shown that aerobic exercise can improve reaction time, I can't help but wonder how much better of gamers they would be if they also exercised a bit as well. They wouldn't need to go to a gym. Just some running, or crunches, or something on a regular basis would help, I would bet.

      Or a copy of DDR ( Dance Dance Revolution ).

      I used to read a weight loss success site where some sorry shut in like that got sucked into DDR and lost something like 100 lbs.

  • Sports injuries... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by PPalmgren (1009823) on Tuesday June 08, 2010 @01:03PM (#32498126)

    Sports typically have one or two major common injuries associated with them, like knee damage for cross country skiing. I wonder if this will show on gamers in 20 or 30 years.

    I'm specifically interested if mental problems occur later in life from over-use of the brain. Some gamers typically work a mental job, then come home and engage in 5-6 hours of very mentally intensive activity. Your brain gets hammered pretty heavily over the course of a day.

    Another possibility is eye damage. During intense gaming sessions I notice that I dry my eyes out repeatedly focusing by not blinking during specific events. I wonder if this will effect me in 20 years. On another note, most gamers I've met have the same vision as me and we can wear each other's glasses without issue.

    • by Pojut (1027544)

      Sports typically have one or two major common injuries associated with them, like knee damage for cross country skiing. I wonder if this will show on gamers in 20 or 30 years.

      Wrist and tendon issues are fairly common amongst older gamers, although these can be prevented to a certain degree by stretching your hands properly and taking breaks.

      • You know, I was developing sore wrists from typing at a keyboard all day when I started my first job. I bought a wrist brace to help manage my ergnomics, but that got pretty old fast. You know what I figured out? You can work out your wrist, strengthen it, and this will help nullify some of the wrist/tendon issues from excessive keyboard or gaming work. I started doing pull-ups (knuckles turned outwards, away from the body) which really help to strengthen the forearm and the wrist. I also started using some
    • by Bicx (1042846)
      I've played computer/video games ever since I was a small child, and at age 23, I also work a as a software dev. I can no longer wear contacts due to my poor eye health, even though I've worn them for 7 years. Right now, if I put contacts in my eyes for one day, my eyes will be red all the next day. Continued use will cause extreme redness, blurry vision, and sensitivity to light. I don't have direct proof of the cause, but I suspect my eyes have sustained damage from several years of wearing contacts with
      • by Pojut (1027544)

        It's a bit too late now, but from a young age I've always kept a poster with some words on it at the opposite end of the room I game in. Every hour or so, I'll look away to the poster and read it three times over before going back to the screen. Focusing on a static image that is far away helps keep your eyes from "locking in" to near-focus mode.

        Still, the number one thing that helps alleviate most gaming-related problems (other than weight) are frequent breaks. I try to walk away for five minutes every

        • by vlm (69642)

          I try to walk away for five minutes every hour, two at the most. This makes a bigger difference than you might think.

          This is also vital for deep vein thrombosis prevention, spinal posture related issues, keeping properly hydrated, the eyestrain issue you already mentioned... Also eliminates or reduces sleepiness and daydreaming.

          Also if you're not just grinding, but actually thinking, a physical perspective change and a pause in the thinking for a couple minutes can often result in higher total overall productivity. If you're mind's blank, staring even harder at the whiteboard doesn't help nearly as much as a short walk.

    • by kaoshin (110328)

      When I was younger, I had bad vision and they told me if I continued to stare at the computer screen which at the time was a CRT television, that I would end up requiring glasses. Despite the fact that I have gamed extensively for the last 27 years and now also sit for 8+ hours in front of multiple displays at work, I have 20/20 vision.

      As for your comment about over-use of the brain, it was my understanding that we do not even fully utilize our brain. I think the human body is more resilient than most peo

    • by Dahamma (304068)

      Please don't try to tell me that a first person shooter is in any way "overuse of the brain". Even with a game like Starcraft for experrienced gamers many of the details are now muscle memory and rote repetition of patterns.

      Even the very idea of "brain overuse" causing mental problems makes me shudder... what has happened to our society!?

      Besides, a baseball pitcher, football quarterback, hockey goalie, auto racer, etc, require just as much (or more) focus, attention, and often strategy as most video games.

      • Please don't try to tell me that a first person shooter is in any way "overuse of the brain". Even with a game like Starcraft for experrienced gamers many of the details are now muscle memory and rote repetition of patterns.

        Even the very idea of "brain overuse" causing mental problems makes me shudder... what has happened to our society!?

        Besides, a baseball pitcher, football quarterback, hockey goalie, auto racer, etc, require just as much (or more) focus, attention, and often strategy as most video games...

        I know that after work, playing Empire Total War for extended sessions was too much. I recently found playing FFXIII to be nice candy for the brain. It's not too thought-intensive, I'm still playing a game and I'm still having fun even if I'm not working all that hard at it.

    • by jab (9153)

      I've raced for about 20 years in cross country skiing (starting with high school, then at the NCAA level in college, and now in citizen races) and have probably entered well over 100 events. More importantly I've known a lot of racers over the years. I've never, ever heard of knee damage being a common problem for cross country skiers. In fact, cross country skiing is one of the more gentle sports on joints, especially compared to long distance running which has a lot of pounding. There are tons of old peop

      • It was a bad example. I was going to use american football examples, but each position has different issues. I was drawing a mental blank.

        My father used to cross-country ski and was going to the olympic trials for Finland. However, knee problems caused him to drop out. One of his good friends had the same problem, so I extrapolated. Cue the xkcd slide.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by mcgrew (92797) *

      Atheletes wear their bodies out, same as construction workers, but but you can't overuse your brain. Your brain has no moving parts to wear out, unlike your body. All the mentally sharp geriatrics I've known actively used their brains a lot, and IINM there have been studies proving this.

      I'm not sure about the eye damage, but the only damage would be to the cornea, and I wouldn't worry about that. [slashdot.org][article] What you should worry about is if you're severely nearsighted you're at risk of retinal detachment [slashdot.org][jour

    • by blair1q (305137)

      The first time you strafe a hallway instead of just walking past it you prove to yourself that gaming has done something to your head.

      But neurons are highly malleable and learn not to be affected by such situations as easily as they learned to react to them. Except for the flashbacks, that sort of behavior goes away.

    • You cannot overwork a brain. Too much stress is bad but mental exercise is != stress. As long as you get the proper amount of sleep you will never hurt your brain by working it too much. The lack of sleep won't necessarily hurt your brain, you just cannot benefit from sleep if you don't sleep.
  • Might??? (Score:3, Funny)

    by Itninja (937614) on Tuesday June 08, 2010 @01:07PM (#32498204) Homepage

    While sitting in front of a screen might not have the same physical demands as running a marathon...

    Might not? Might not?? Hell, making a sandwich has more physical demands than playing the vijimagames.

  • Cause or Result (Score:3, Insightful)

    by icebike (68054) on Tuesday June 08, 2010 @01:08PM (#32498216)

    Is the 20 year old "Professional gamer" with the "aerobic health as a 60-year-old smoker" in that condition due to gaming, or is he gaming because that's all he can do, because of some pre-existing limitation?

    I ask, because it takes longer for a sedentary life style to put you in THAT bad shape than your typical 20 year old would have in the interval between highschool and their 20th birthday.

    Where does one get a job being a "professional gamer" other than working for a game developer?

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Kenoli (934612)
      South Korea.
    • by Pojut (1027544)

      Where does one get a job being a "professional gamer" other than working for a game developer?

      Korea, if you are awesome at Starcraft [wikipedia.org].

      There is also the PGL [wikipedia.org] and a host of other "professional" leagues.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      Where does one get a job being a "professional gamer" other than working for a game developer?

      It's easy in that you don't have to apply to become one, like most jobs, but also tough in that you won't make any money for a little while, like playing in a Band.

      1) Find a popular multiplayer game
      2) Get good at said game
      3) Search for a league online for said game
      4) Join league
      5) Win tournaments
      6) ???
      7) Professional Gamer /Profit

      • by blair1q (305137)

        The attention given to the ones who get rich at a sport creates a disproportionate view of the probabilities of joining that class of competitors.

        Those who gain little or no money, or even lose relative to another choice of profession, is by far the largest segment of any sport's population.

        Delusional hope among the competing class is, of course, of enormous benefit to the organizer class. This goes for any industry, not just sports.

    • by Hatta (162192)

      I'm guessing it's all the pot he smokes.

    • It doesn't take that long. I used to do judo but after a couple of broken relationships I just sat at home (and at work), read books and eat. I've gained almost 50 kg in just 5 years and could barely walk 200 meters. Once you are fat you can get sleep apnoea, and once you have that, it is almost impossible to lose weight without doing something against it.

      Once you can sleep properly it is much easier to lose all that fat and start living again, though. Just walked 4 km and feeling good :-)

    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      I ask, because it takes longer for a sedentary life style to put you in THAT bad shape than your typical 20 year old would have in the interval between highschool and their 20th birthday.

      I've seen some pretty fat kids. twenty years of doing nothing but sitting in a chair stuffing your face is a long time.

  • Online gaming actually helped me understand real-life sports. When I was a kid my dad took me to Hockey and Soccer and other organized sports, and I never really "got it". I didn't have any aggression in my personality and when the parents were saying "it's not important to win, it's important to have fun" I actually took them to heart and didn't care about the game, at all.

    I finally figured out the pleasure of cooperative sport playing Counterstrike in my bedroom. I actually got pretty decent and had momen

  • Other studies show that the sky is black at night with little white speckles, gray when it's raining at noon and blue when it's not.

    What's next, they're going to study where bears shit and what religion the Pope is?

  • In most cases, Eye Hand Coordination is a big factor in sports, and a big factor in gaming .
    Obviously there are exceptions like soccer and checkers, but yeah there is a lot of cross over.

    I would have thought this was immediately obvious as someone who has both played video games and sports competitively.
    The biggest difference from a competitive point of view? Video games put you completely at the mercy of developers, and it sucks.

    Who wants to spend a year refining a particular talent for a video game, and t

    • by shermo (1284310)

      It's no different to the IOC dropping sports/disciplines from the Olympic lineup. It happens every time.

    • Videogames are not that different from traditional sports: there is a rule set that exists to define the sport, but those rules do not determine the quality of the player. In fact, a good player never complains about patches, because she can change her strategy accordingly. The evolution of the starcraft II beta is a good example of this. To me, there are two measurements that determine the quality of every sport, and it helps to motivate why we appreciate some sports more than others: Game-critical decisio
  • I wonder if the study focused on whether or not both groups display high levels of testosterone and high levels of competitiveness. I always figured that the constant tea-bagging and shit-talking in Halo and such were just virtual depictions of the same male-centric dominance instinct that athletes display by making fouls, being unnecessarily belligerent, or just being douchebags in general. I know both groups often (though not always) display an attitude of elitism towards those that are not part of the, '
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by vlm (69642)

      That said, I think football and soccer would be funnier if the scoring team tea-bagged their rivals every time they made a point.

      Turnabout is fair play, you really want the halo team to dance, hug each other, and rub each others butts after a kill and then take a shower together after the game, while the elderly newspaper writers watch, er, I mean interview them? I could do without that creepy stuff.

      • by blair1q (305137)

        Think about that again, only this time make it a women's league.

        How has your attitude changed?

        • by vlm (69642)

          Think about that again, only this time make it a women's league. How has your attitude changed?

          Uh, I'm thinking a career change to "elderly newspaper writer" is in the cards?
          With my luck, they'll assign the noob (that being me) to the womens sumo wrestling team instead of beach volleyball.

    • by gangien (151940)

      I know that competitive sports are so popular because they, essentially, allow for the enactment of modern alpha-male style dominance displays.

      You know that? That really doesn't explain why so many people root for the underdog. I think your trying to over analyze the fact that people like to compete and have fun, as well as watching said action.

  • "Whoa man, there's ProGamer69"

    "Yeh, he's uber leet, look at the size of him"

    "He must put in some serious sessions to get a bod like that, just look as them rolls of flab"

    "Yeah, I just wanna grab them and roll about in them"

    "You're working on a pretty nice gut yourself, how do you manage it with this pro-fitness thing everyone is forcing on us?"

    "Oh that" *scoffs* "CoD7 + Mountain Dew all the way bud"

  • I play video games and I'm quite good. I always rank high in reaction time games like racing and also RTS games too. I was actually the #7 ranked platinum player in the Starcraft II Beta before it reset :) and I guess I break the stereotype because I'm extremely fit and in shape. One reason is I have a gym membership that I actually use and secondly, I play Dance Dance revoltion! The estimates of calories burned per song are between 10 and 35 and they're all under 2 minutes long. I have freakishly stro
    • ...and you got a Funny mod for all that. I’m still trying to figure out whether you were really trying to be funny, or actually being serious.

  • So what they found is that video games select for those qualities that result in superior performance. Fast reflexes, increases in focus with pressure, etc.

    Make a game that consists of holding a heavy rock motionless in your hand and you'll find a class of players with different qualities.

    People without those qualities are not likely to progress, and eventually not likely to continue playing, certainly not to be promoted to more-skilled competitions.

    Like, duh.

    • by grikdog (697841)
      I forgot I had mod points (so they expired), or I'd bump this guy up a notch! Insightful.

  • Still, while gamers show good reflexes, their health was worse than expected, with one 20-something professional player showing the same aerobic health as a 60-year-old smoker."

    Impressive. If I was into something like that I would make sure to cut my junk food, avoid overeating and substitute 30 min of gaming a day for a walk.

  • Chicks dig us, and so we get laid a lot.

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