Your gaming position I mean, what did you think I meant?
Somewhere out there exists the perfect chair. This chair is not a throne made of gold nor a lounge made of silk, it is simply a chair which, due to its ergonomic design, increases my kill to death ratio. Sadly, my sofa is not this chair.
My sofa is too deep, too inviting and much too squishy. When I play a game I like to taper off the edge of my seat with mere inches between me and my long-since-hoovered floor. I like to have my feet at shoulders width, solid and immovable, with my elbows planted firmly on my knees. I like to learn forward expectantly, body weight threatening to carry my arse off the seat. I like to sit like this, but my my sofa wont let me. Its troubling me.
I believe resolutely that my ability to play a game is greatly affected by the way in which I arrange my lanky excuse for a body. Listen to a professional gamer talk about how they gear up for a big tournament which could win them thousands of monies and they blabber about caffeine intake and how much sleep they achieved yet they never mention how they sit which is foolish, because its important.
I took to the internet to make sure I wasnt the only one who placed so much stock in they way I sit. After a (not half as difficult as I thought it would be) Google search I discovered a forum brimming with fellow gamers who swear by the power of positioning (title is a work in progress). I notice it myself particularly when an able-fingered friend takes up the controller during a local competitive match. Much like when a combatant clicks his knuckles before a fight or when Ash Ketchum rotates his hat, its a ritual that implies Im giving it my all and my opponent better do the same.
I was eager to discover if there was any scientific reasons as to why sitting upright might help you beat that tricky boss that youve been struggling with for so long you lazy slouching bugger. Heres what I found:
Nothing. At least to begin with I found nothing. The only study directly exploring how gamers sit found that within five minutes their participants regress[ed] to the least energy-demanding position i.e. slumped. I was unable to ascertain what game they were playing, but I bet it was easy. Moving on.
In order to look at the physical benefits of posture I turned to something I know little about yoga. Thats right, yoga (bear with me). Those who preach the benefits of yoga suggest how certain postures increase lung capacity and therefore oxygenation of the brain and muscles. Sounds fancy but its hardly conclusive. Although research into yoga is a bit thin on the ground, there has been work indicating how yoga can reduce stress and increase performance at cognitive-behavioural tasks.
Not a bad start and then I stumbled upon a study which suggested that your positioning can directly affect your vision. Obviously vision is important when playing a game, suffice to say Sony and Microsoft arent furiously competing over the blind demographic. Sitting up and leaning forward not only gets you closer to the screen but may also improve your ability to see. The study found intraocular pressure increases when body position is changed from sitting erect to supine and since the retina is affected by changes in blood pressure, your vision decreases. If you sit up, pressure goes down and vision improves.
Even more interesting were the studies I found after this. One experiment demonstrated how upright participants persisted longer in a puzzle-solving task than their crumpled counterparts. It could be a case that by sitting up youre more likely to put in more effort than if you were slouching try hard and you will succeed. Another study found that participants were prouder of test scores after sitting upright; perhaps we also remember our performance in a more favourable light when we sit erect.
Whatever the case this evidence suggests that not only is your performance improved when sitting erect you also enjoy things more. Therefore if you are currently bored or otherwise disapproving of this article your posture, not my writing, is obviously the issue (science says so). It could also go a little way as to explaining why these people are so happy:
So next time youre inclined on your couch and taking a virtual beating try sitting up and giving it another go. Even if your performance doesnt improve, your perception of it might. Now Im off to get a new sofa.
Thanks very much for reading. If you thought of anything I didnt or just want to share your thoughts, please do comment.