Folks, we need to talk about gaming chairs. I get that they look like racing car seats, but they’re so actively hostile to our entire bodies. Why do we put ourselves through things like this?
I have a DX Racer chair that’s red and black that I checked out for a story some billion years ago, and it’s very pretty. It is the racing car bed of chairs.
These things cost something like $500 new. And yet, if you spend a lot of time sitting in it ,as I’m sure gamers who buy specialist chairs would, you have to buy a little gel cushion so you don’t give yourself haemorrhoids. Surely, for $500 you could get a chair that doesn’t hate the entire back-half of your body?
Let’s talk spines and posture. What first drew me to this chair was how much it reclines without tipping over. You spider-fracture the base of your spine one time, and suddenly you value reclining over all else. But, aside from reclining, an expensive chair that people are expected to spend 8+ hours a day in should help you with posture.
This one has a little cushion that goes in my lower back, which is nice – that’s called lumbar support – but by lunch time every day my upper back feels broken, because it is impossible to sit with good posture on this thing.
What makes it worse is that this is one of the most comfortable gaming chairs I’ve ever tried. I’m told the new Razer one is pretty spine-friendly, yet for $729 I feel like it should also actively give you a massage and cure any lingering childhood traumas.
It’s almost like a group of gamers bullied a racing chair manufacturer all through high school, and so when the racing chair guy found himself with a surplus of chairs he came up with the perfect revenge plan.
Are pro-racing drivers this uncomfortable all the time? Is that why they’re paid the big bucks and always look so stern? I remember the seats in Lamborghinis being a little terrible for posture, but the MacLarens were pretty comfortable.
Things that are currently good about racing chairs:
- They’re colourful.
- The wheelbase is very solid.
- They recline.
- Arm rests.
- You can wheel yourself around your apartment making brum-brum noises and pretend you’re driving a race car, I guess?
Here’s how I want to see gaming chairs improve:
- Add some cushioning to the base of the chair. At the moment there is the thinnest layer of hard memory foam over metal. This is not comfort and it is certainly not ergonomic.
- Consult someone with a working understanding of the human spine to make it more compatible with the human body. Right now my head is being pushed forward and my mid-spine is curving in a way I don’t think it’s supposed to. Imagine releasing a chair so good it improved the postures of gamers. Wouldn’t that be nice? Be that guy.
- Make it so the user has to sit forward a bit so they’re not sitting on their sensitive bum parts all the time. Sitting forward a bit is what any honest to goodness quality ergonomic computer chair is supposed to do, spreading the load across your legs and not just your butt and coccyx.
- Maybe make it look more like one of those fancy chairs you see in vampire movies? That could be cooler than racing chairs. Obviously keep it made of vinyl so it’s easily cleaned but more of a vampire velvet vibe would be neat. You know, if we’re making a wishlist.
- If your price is already getting this close to a serious ergonomic chair like a Herman Miller, maybe learn a thing or two from the masters alongside making it look all gamery too.
Folks who are considering buying a gaming chair, please, heed my warning.
I know your favourite streamer sits in one. That streamer is either in tremendous pain, or too young to truly feel the effects of what they’re doing to their skeleton yet. One day they will pay for their endorsement with back pain.
It’s not too late for you. Find an ergonomic chair, or at least one with proper lumbar support.
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Alice Clarke is an award winning freelance journalist, producer and presenter. She also co-curates the PAX Aus Diversity Lounge. In her spare time she plays the drums, lives in Forza Horizon and builds Lego.