They compete in sold-out arenas around the world for million-dollar prize pools, but do professional gamers qualify as athletes?
The discoveries from a new study make a strong case for players of strategy games such as World of Warcraft, Counter Strike and League of Legends.
Scientists at the German Sports University conducted a study of e-sports professionals and found that the physical and mental capabilities of competitive gamers are comparable to elite athletes in most other sports. Some of the study’s more interesting comparisons, as reported by the German broadcast company, Deutsche Welle:
- e-sports athletes achieve up to 400 movements on the keyboard and the mouse per minute, four times as many as the average person. This level of strain had never been observed in any other sport, not even in table-tennis players, who require a high degree of hand-eye coordination.
- The activity is asymmetrical. Both hands are being moved at the same time, and various parts of the brain are being activated at the same time.
- The amount of the stress hormone cortisol produced is about the same as that of a race-car driver
- Heart rates elevated as high as 160 to 180 beats per minute, which is equivalent to heart activity during a fast run or marathon.
However, the study also found that e-sports athletes do not prepare themselves for competition in a professional matter. The majority of the test subjects did not exercise and failed to adjust their nutritional intake.
Professor Ingo Frobose is convinced that a training program and better nutrition habits would enhance gamer performance. He says, for example, that performing exercises that strengthen the neck and shoulder muscles would improve motor skills in the arm area.
The thought of professional gamers hitting the weight room may seem preposterous, but it could be a major milestone in the evolution of e-sports. In NASCAR, a non-traditional sport, drivers such as Jimmie Johnson turned to strength training to maximize their abilities and take their performance to the next level.
The study proves that e-sports professionals are athletes, and if strength training helps them gain a competitive advantage over their opponents, it is certainly worth the call of duty.