In the world of computer gaming, it seems everything must be tagged as gamer and then a certain styling applied. This is not just to computer parts but even furniture. One area of debate on this furniture is with “Gaming” Chairs”.
A chair is a much more important part of your gaming experience than most realize. This is your primary comfort spot when using your computer. If you sit in front of your PC for work, play or both, the chair is important to improving your overall experience. Think about it, during long gaming or work sessions the chair becomes the singular point for you.
A poor chair can mean discomfort, thus reducing your gaming session time and enjoyment. It can also result in squeaking noises as you move around, creating a distraction. The chair is often an afterthought in building a great PC Gaming system, but it plays a vital role in ensuring a great PC Gaming experience.
The old chair of choice was the simple office chair. These where designed for people to sit in for a couple of hours at a time and are reasonably priced. These are a huge improvement over a folding or even a kitchen chair.
One day however someone thought, what if we make the chair look cool and call it a Gaming Chair and so the debate began. PC Gaming chairs are easy to identify as most follow the design aesthetic of basing themselves of the sports car bucket seat. With pretty colors and slick styling, they appealed to the gamer frame of mind.
I will admit to falling for this slick bit of gamer propaganda early on, when I bought a gaming chair for around $500 and thought how cool I was. That is until about a month later. That was when the hip and back pain began. You see the styling of a “gaming” chair is around a sports car seat and that involves wings on the back and the seat portions to help you be conformed into the sit. While this might be good for sports cars and short session it is a one size fits all system and has some major draw backs.
While for the younger audience these seats tend to work okay, the truth is they wreak havoc on older and larger gamers. For me the seat, even a larger model, result in my hips being pressed in which forces a change in how I would normally sit. The back was not broad enough for my larger frame and so the wings create discomfort in my upper back.
Then comes the lumbar support. People talk about this all the time and few of us really understand the physiology behind it. However, once you have proper lumbar support you know how good it feels. The “gamer” chair solution was a pillow with straps. This might look like a good idea but in practice it is not. The straps mean you’re constant adjusting the pillow and the pillow itself is a one stiffness fits all approach. Most people that have used these find them overly soft and I have yet to meet a gamer that used the pillow for more than a few weeks.
Finally, we come to the looks of the chair. They look awful slick that is for sure. However, I was left wondering why I would even want the chair to look slick. Despite my kids believing I had eyes in the back of my head, I do not. Nor do I have eyes in my back or my bum. I only see the chair when I come into my office and others do not come into my work/gaming area all that much. They make a nice show piece to give yourself some geek creds with your online buddies but otherwise the look in my opinion is a lot less important than being comfortable.Next, we move to the standard office chair, these are easy to come by and you can often find a good one locally at a reasonable price. While they lack some of the advanced features, like a recline that lets you be flat in your chair (serious who sleeps in a gamer chair), they get the job done.
As a bigger guy the local chairs would not last very long but I was quickly able to find online sources of chairs rated for heavier people. I also spend a lot of time in my chair between work and play so long-term comfort is a plus. I discovered what is known as a 24/7 chair. These are usually pushed toward dispatch centers, places where someone is always sitting in the chair. They tend to be more durable and hold their comfort over long gaming sessions better.
About a year ago however circumstances forced me to look for better options. Early arthritis in my neck and lower back pain made me re-think how I was sitting, I needed something better. This is when I was directed to the world of higher end office chairs.
These chairs are designed for long sitting sessions, good comfort, proper posture and support. When I started looking at chairs, based on the recommendations of my Physical Therapist, I was smacked down by some serious sticker shock.
After a lot of looking around I narrowed my choices to three companies: Herman Miller, X-Chair and Steelcase. These are amazing chairs, very well made, with MASSIVE warranties and a price that will make you weep. No matter how I worked the numbers to get a great chair from one of these three companies I was spending around $1000 or even a little more.
At this point most people I talk to about this have their eyes glaze over and look at me like I am a moron. A grand for chair?! I was the same way when I started looking at this. It seemed silly to me, after all I had been using some nice chairs for years that I could buy for $300. My therapist pointed out however that the $300 chair was what I was using with all my pain.
A little over a year ago I took the plunge. I was able to use some contacts to get a little discount and within 2 weeks my Herman Miller Aeron arrived. First the warranty on this is massive, basically if anything goes wrong in the next 10 years, they send you a replacement.
The mesh seat and back, that to me looked flimsy are actually VERY durable and have held up better than any padded chair I have owned. The “padding” has not softened, the support is still there. The mech back has shown another benefit as well, all that back sweat I used to get from long gaming sessions in the summer is a thing of the past.
The best part however was my pain disappeared. The lumbar support is excellent and I now sit with better posture naturally. The adjustments let me fine tune the chair so it fits me perfectly and I now find myself very comfortable over LONG gaming sessions, way better than I ever did with even the best office chair I had before.
In fact, my wife was so impressed with the results to my back pain that she asked for a chair of her own. She was still in a “gamer” chair. This time we went with X-Chair because she liked the idea of their lumbar heating, a little extra comfort after a long day of work. Well, she is now a convert. She prefers to sit in her chair at her desk than on our nice sofa.
I have not yet had the chance to sit in a Steelcase chair, but I do know people that love them. In fact, JayzTwoCents did a video on this very topic and talked about a Steelcase chair. Not just Jay though, Steve at GamersNexus has discussed Gamer chairs as have numerous others and they all reach the same conclusions I have.
As gamers we spend a lot of money on great PC components but all too often, we forget the most important component, the user. The chair at our gaming/workstation is a focal point of our gaming experience. A great gaming rig that we hate gaming with because our back hurts from a crappy chair, is a wasted gaming rig. You need a comfortable base to your gaming setup to get the most out of your experience.
I want to be clear; I understand a lot of you cannot afford to go out and drop a $1000 on a chair. I get it, I really do. If not for doctor recommendations and my family badgering, I likely would have not done so either. However, my advice is do not drop the cash on a chair that looks cool, instead look for a chair that gives you the comfort you need. Check at local stores, sit in a chair and see how it fits. Want a higher end chair? I have found Herman Miller Aeron chairs for as little as $200 from office sales, a little cleanup and maybe another $100 of parts and you have an amazing chair.Take the time and buy something that will give you the comfort you deserve for long sessions with that amazing gaming rig. Your back will thank you…
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