When you’re planning that gaming den or just want to stop slouching on the sofa or crashing on the bed, choosing the right chair can have a big impact on your comfort, gaming prowess, but also your future health. We look at what’s best for your back when it comes to those gaming marathons.
The simple equation for any buyer is that any office chair, even a budget model is designed for someone who has to sit down for around eight hours per day. It needs to provide support for the back, rests for the arms, and is height adjustable to suit all sizes of zombie workers.
Not much of that springs to mind when you’re looking for a gaming chair. Sure, they all say “ergonomic” and “comfort” on the website or product page, but while there are strict rules for office comfort, we don’t recall seeing a health and safety guide, beyond “take regular breaks” with most gaming furniture.
Office Chic or Gaming Chick?
As with many areas of life, we take too much for granted, but anyone with a bad back will tell you that sitting the wrong way will only add to the pain. While you may be a yoga queen or a keen runner out of the home, when it comes to relaxing most of us like to slouch, and this is where things, and your vertebrae or shoulders, can fall down.
Office chairs on wheels, with armrests usually start at a budget friendly £25 but can shoot all the way up to the £100s when you add comfortable and stylish leather, deep seats and head-rests. Of course, executive chairs can add another nought to the price tag as they become super-serious about luxury and add extra features that will make anyone feel like a captain of industry rather than a bloke-in-their-pants-playing-games-at-home. If money’s no object, then blow your mind and wallet on the finest that high-end makers have to offer.
If you are a PC gamer, then an office chair will likely go with your current desk, but console gamers tend to have low-down units to store consoles on, which makes an office chair less attractive or puts them out of the equation. PC gamers can also use their mouse and keyboard while resting their arms, which can add to comfort. Naturally, PC gamers who spend thousands on their PC rigs, won’t blink at a few hundred more for a decent PC gaming chair.
Also on the plus side, office chairs are sold in their millions and it is pretty easy to find a good buy thanks to the many reviews and high ratings. On the negative, the world of office furniture moves very slowly, so innovation is rare, although we can suggest that a mesh-backed chair is good for keeping cool and letting air flow around you.
Game On For Players
Basic gaming chairs at the lower budget range tend to look rather similar to their office counterparts, but with some brighter color options and different choices of materials. Popular with kids, those sound-boosting “rocker” chairs that sit you at floor level with your legs stretched out are a category of their own, and great for smaller gamers. If you add a base that raises them up and armrests, then the price does tend to shoot up. But the key selling point is rumbling audio as you play and that “feel” of being there.
Simulation fans or would-be F1 racers will spend the most to make their experience complete. These seats are usually the reclining models where steering wheels and pedals can be connected to extensions to make it feel like you’re in a fighter or racing car cockpit.
The Perils of Chair Choice
So, the immediate choice is between some gaming furniture or an office-class chair. Bargain hunters that look carefully might find a very similar looking office chair priced somewhat lower than a suspiciously similar gaming chair as makers try to cover the market.
For those looking for a little luxury, you will often find a posh office chair offers a lot more than a high-end gaming chair for the same or less money. Also, office chairs tend to go on-sale rather a lot, while gaming chairs as higher-end accessories are not discounted as often.
Beyond the traditional chair design, gamers might look for the bean-bag type recliners that offer plenty of support but are rather unstable. Giant inflatable ball chairs are another option, although again stability probably is not the best for those enjoying frantic arcade action. Finally, buyers might just go for a comfortable lazy-boy type chair or similar, especially if the gaming room doubles as a home cinema or media room.
Some questions to ask before committing to your choice:
- Will different people use it? (is it adjustable?)
- Is the material leak and stain proof? (if you’re letting smaller gamers play)
- Will it help my posture? (spend more if you’re already slumping or have a bad back)
- Does it need wheels? (will it sit in one place or could you benefit from having it more mobile?)
- Are there lots of wires in the room? (Wheeled chairs and wires don’t work well together, just a hint!)
One final thing to consider most basic office or gaming chairs come with a one-year guarantee, perhaps two. But if you do buy a high-end office chair, these can come with up to a decade of warranty. That might be worth considering of gaming is one of your key hobbies and you plan to get a lot of use from that chair. Also, don’t bother looking in Ikea, they don’t sell gaming chairs!
Whatever you end up getting, try and test one out in a store before purchasing to make sure it is as solid and comfortable as you need. And, if you can, get one that is pre-built rather than having to muck about with some DIY once you get home.