An article on the Telegraph’s website caught my eye today – apparently, professional computer gamers have the reactions of fighter pilots but the bodies of 60-year-old chain smokers. Dr Dominic Micklewright, from the University of Essex, conducted a series of physical and psychological tests to determine whether playing on computers could be defined as a sport.
Despite having the bodies of hard living pensioners, the study also found that progamers shared a number of emotional benefits with top athletes: the gamers experienced similar high levels of positive feelings and low levels of negative feelings such as depression and fatigue as their athletic counterparts. The rush of endorphins appears to be the same whether you beat someone at FIFA or on the pitch.
I read a few years ago of a professional gamer who, against the trend of his fellow gamers, spent much of his time in hard physical training to improve his performance. His reasoning was that he spent his life looking for every little edge over the competition he could find, and had discovered that improving his fitness and health had a positive impact. It would be interesting to see a study on the impact that physical training could have on a range of gamers’ performances, as I feel that any positive findings here could improve firstly the perceived nature of the sport, and secondly the overall health of the competitors.
So, to finish this off, let’s get back to the main question brought about by this study. Can competitive gaming be counted as a sport? In my opinion, if it involves skill, reaction times and hours of practice to beat a fellow participant in a competition then, yes, it counts as a sport. If snooker or darts can be seen as a sport, then there should be no issue in classing competitive gaming as a sport.