Home Gaming A German scientific study shows eSports professionals are athletes

A German scientific study shows eSports professionals are athletes

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science

Perhaps one of the biggest debates I’ve seen in the more recent past is that of whether eSports professional can be considered athletes. This is a much deeper argument as it allows them to be taken more seriously when considering the amount of hours they spend behind the PC. Their practice and dedication is easily compared to that of conventional athletes, but according to a new scientific study, they are in fact athletes.

People often don’t consider the amount of strain placed on eSports professionals who devote some 18 hours a day to perfecting their game. Recently there has been a push for a healthier lifestyle of eSport athletes, but when German Professor Igor Froböse began his scientific study five years ago, it was merely a part of the industry. Froböse was one of the first to look into the strain and physical influence on eSports at the German Sports University in Cologne. His study, one of the first of its kind, looked into the important aspects of a professional gamer. According to the report, he “looked into the demands placed on an eSports professional, the kind of training he needs to go through to compete, or what kind of strains he is exposed to during a tournament.”

In an interview with DW,Froböse said the following:

We were particularly impressed by both the demands placed on the motor skills and their capabilities.

“The eSports athletes achieve up to 400 movements on the keyboard and the mouse per minute, four times as much as the average person. The whole thing is asymmetrical, because both hands are being moved at the same time and various parts of the brain are also being used at the same time.

More than the basics

You don’t often consider the amount of work going in to every single stroke of keyboard or movement of the mouse. To the general observer you’ll often see gamers clicking away and moving their hands “aimlessly.” This is not the case as every movement in the heat of battle needs precise movement and tactical understanding. These rapid movements in between plays ensure the gamer is ready for that next fast paced movement. Keeping up an APM of over 400 is normal for most professional gamers, and this kind of strain cannot be compared to any other conventional sport.

One of the more medical observations was that of the heart rate. During heated battle some players were observed to have heart rates of up 160-180 BPM, which is comparable to a sprint or marathon runner. I’m sure as an amateur enthusiast you’ve gone through those heated plays where you feel you’re about to have an heart attack? Apparently it’s normal, and your heart has just gone through a marathon.

Just watch this video of Darbian setting a World speed record in Super Mario Bros. while wearing a heart rate monitor. His heart rate clocks in 170 BPM.

 

A healthier lifestyle

Now that we’re being considered athletes, it’s important to start behaving like one. This doesn’t mean buying fancy cars and surrounding ourselves with beautiful people. It unfortunately means eating healthier and getting exercise. eSports professionals are perhaps unaware of the strain they’re putting their bodies and minds under when playing at the highest levels. In some of the top teams these players have their own dietary experts who help make sure they consume the right nutrients to continue performing at that level. What about those who aren’t part of major organizations?

In terms of their fitness, many of our test subjects are simply average citizens, and average citizens worry me. They simply aren’t fit. For example, they fail to do exercises that would strengthen the whole support system in the shoulder and neck areas. Were they to do this, this would improve their fine-motor skills in the arm area, something that is extremely important in competition.

Nutritional needs are often overlooked when considering the amount of strain you’re putting on your body and mind. You’re undergoing the same amount of strain as normal athletes, yet your diet consists of Mountain Dew Code Red and Doritios?

One of the test subjects who took part in the scientific study was Rene Pinkera, the BlizzCon World of Warcraft champion who currently plays for SK Games. During the study Pinkera apparently realized his nutritional needs were not being met.

You always see opponents with energy drinks and other beverages that are loaded with sugar, people who don’t watch what they eat. We try to avoid sugar, we eat a banana beforehand, or maybe a muesli bar. And you can’t go wrong by drinking water.

Now that a scientific study has proven that eSports professionals undergo the same stress and strain as athletes we can begin to take it a bit more seriously. Luckily for most gamers there’s an apparent gym culture which has tied itself closely to gaming. Look after yourselves, please.

Last Updated: May 16, 2016

92 Comments

  1. Pariah

    May 16, 2016 at 13:36

    Wait, let me get this straight. You want gamers to practice 18 hours a day, AND eat healthily AND still get some gym time? And enough sleep?

    Reply

    • Pariah

      May 16, 2016 at 13:36

      *AND be reasonable, logical human beings with common sense and decency?

      Reply

      • Admiral Chief Protector

        May 16, 2016 at 13:40

        You think they bathe/eat healthily/exercise?

        Reply

        • Alien Emperor Trevor

          May 16, 2016 at 13:45

          I do all those things! In moderation of course, I’m not an athlete.

          Reply

          • Admiral Chief Protector

            May 16, 2016 at 13:50

            I bathe with my wife, but normally shower.
            I eat, not always healthily, but I eat well
            I sleep a little bit
            I work a little bit
            On a ‘good’ week day, I have 3hrs gaming, on a ‘good’ Saturday, I do 5-6

            18 hrs a day is madness

          • Ottokie

            May 16, 2016 at 13:50

            I moderately eat xD

            but bathing and exercise I do often

          • Admiral Chief Protector

            May 16, 2016 at 13:54

            Clicking your mouse eh?

          • Ottokie

            May 16, 2016 at 13:55

            Exercise is exercise eh

          • Alien Emperor Trevor

            May 16, 2016 at 13:57

            I wish I’d known this years ago when my mom used to tell me to get some exercise instead of playing games. “I’m not playing games mom, I’m practicing athletics!”

          • Captain JJ bound

            May 16, 2016 at 14:01

            I don’t actually eat that much. Exercise regularly.
            There’s no big secret in being fit and in shape that Captain America isn’t telling us, it’s 100% a numbers game.

          • Alien Emperor Trevor

            May 16, 2016 at 14:02

            The real secret is being paid a lot of money to look like that. When it’s your job it’s not that difficult.

          • Captain JJ bound

            May 16, 2016 at 14:03

            Yea, that’s true. Having someone coach you and set up a routine and eating plan probably also helps.
            But to be in proper “non-superhero” shape isn’t very difficult.

          • Admiral Chief Protector

            May 16, 2016 at 14:04

            I’m a superhero. My super power is procrastination

          • Captain JJ bound

            May 16, 2016 at 14:06

            Yea, grammar correction is more of a villain power. 😛

          • Alien Emperor Trevor

            May 16, 2016 at 14:05

            Call me Potato Man!

          • Admiral Chief Protector

            May 16, 2016 at 14:08

            I thought you were judge headpants?

          • Alien Emperor Trevor

            May 16, 2016 at 14:15

            I have many talents!

          • Captain JJ bound

            May 16, 2016 at 14:09

            Alien Emperor Potato Trevor!

          • Ottokie

            May 16, 2016 at 14:05

            I rarely eat 3 times a day, get on my mountain bike around 3 times a week. Although I am not chiseled like a Greek god. I do manage to maintain health and gaming together 😛

          • Captain JJ bound

            May 16, 2016 at 14:08

            Yea man. Just stay under your daily calories limit and you can pretty much eat what you want.
            I have pizza two times a week, sometimes Burger King as well if I’m too lazy to make dinner. But I eat little in general.

          • Ottokie

            May 16, 2016 at 14:10

            I find myself to lazy to go buy take aways (I heavily dispise driving) and rather just cook something from the “Kook en geniet” 😛

          • Captain JJ bound

            May 16, 2016 at 14:10

            Haha. Fair enough. But Pizza delivers! That’s where the twice-a-week thing comes in. 😀
            Or we make our own.

          • Admiral Chief Protector

            May 16, 2016 at 14:11

            I had Burger Bistro THREE times in the last week!

          • Captain JJ bound

            May 16, 2016 at 14:12

            Yea.
            We have a pizza oven at home, so had Pizza Friday with friends over, then Pizza Saturday because it’s Saturday and cooking on a Saturday is against my beliefs. 😛

          • Admiral Chief Protector

            May 16, 2016 at 14:13

            Speaking of having friends over, I’ll be in your city one of these days, you can prepare a meal in my honour

          • Captain JJ bound

            May 16, 2016 at 14:15

            I’ll prep the sacrificial pit.

          • Admiral Chief Protector

            May 16, 2016 at 14:15

            I like my virgin like my beer, ice cold

          • Ottokie

            May 16, 2016 at 14:13

            Nothing delivers to our estate. Too complicated to explain to the drivers.

          • Captain JJ bound

            May 16, 2016 at 14:14

            Damn. We’re luckily located close to about four pizza places that deliver, of which two produce edible pizza.

          • Ottokie

            May 16, 2016 at 14:15

            Closest one is Debonairs… lol NOPE!

          • Admiral Chief Protector

            May 16, 2016 at 14:16

            NOOOOOOPE

          • Captain JJ bound

            May 16, 2016 at 14:16

          • Ottokie

            May 16, 2016 at 14:17

            You live relatively close to me. Have you ever tried Giovanni’s at Eikendal ? Best pizza ever!

          • Captain JJ bound

            May 16, 2016 at 14:19

            I have not. I’ve heard of it though.
            I’ll put it on the list. Will give it a try. My wife is always up for trying new pizza.
            I must say, getting back to the delivery thing, a few places have struggle to deliver to our estate as well, and ours is really easy. Lazy bastards 😀 <- Pot calling the kettle black

          • Ottokie

            May 16, 2016 at 14:20

            At least the “pot” is the one paying 😛

          • Captain JJ bound

            May 16, 2016 at 14:23

            True. XD

          • Alien Emperor Trevor

            May 16, 2016 at 14:16

            I was lazy & hungry on Sat night. I thought about Debonairs. I went & made toast instead.

          • Admiral Chief Protector

            May 16, 2016 at 14:17

            Plot twist, the toast was more moist / had more taste / better value for money than the pizza

          • Ottokie

            May 16, 2016 at 14:17

            Good call

          • Admiral Chief Protector

            May 16, 2016 at 14:11

            LOL

            VANNAAND SAAM OTTO….BLADSY 55 VAN DIE KOOK EN GENIET!!!

            Bwhahahaha spat all my coffee out!

          • Ottokie

            May 16, 2016 at 14:13

            If I ever meet a girl again (hopefully) at least I can impress her with my skills xD

          • Admiral Chief Protector

            May 16, 2016 at 14:13

            You wanna meet a girl so that you can meat a girl

          • Ottokie

            May 16, 2016 at 14:14

            No comment. This could spiral out of control xD

          • Admiral Chief Protector

            May 16, 2016 at 14:15

            So, meatspin?

          • Ottokie

            May 16, 2016 at 14:16

            Remember the last time the full link was “accidentally” posted here 😛

          • Admiral Chief Protector

            May 16, 2016 at 14:18

            Lol no?

          • Ottokie

            May 16, 2016 at 14:19

          • Captain JJ bound

            May 16, 2016 at 14:20

            Damn, that was quick

          • Ottokie

            May 16, 2016 at 14:20

            guess what 2 words I had to use in google

          • Captain JJ bound

            May 16, 2016 at 14:23

            meatspin lazygamer?
            I’m still happy to this day that it was blocked for me. I feel so clean. 😀

          • Ottokie

            May 16, 2016 at 14:24

            Correct!

            I was working in sales that time, with a speakers on my PC. That’s why I will never forget.

          • Captain JJ bound

            May 16, 2016 at 14:26

            Haha. Damn.
            I was working, well, where I am now. Wow, that kind of just made me realise it might be time to move on to other (hopefully greener) fields.

          • Ottokie

            May 16, 2016 at 14:27

            Also still working at the same place. Just moved up the ladder a bit 🙂

          • Ottokie

            May 16, 2016 at 14:29

            When I saw the date, and noticed it was 3 years ago O.o

            Time flies so fast

          • Admiral Chief Protector

            May 16, 2016 at 14:29

            IKR?

          • Admiral Chief Protector

            May 16, 2016 at 14:30

            Did you not post under another name back then?

          • Ottokie

            May 16, 2016 at 14:30

            Nope

          • Admiral Chief Protector

            May 16, 2016 at 14:31

            Check die pic wat ek hier onder gepost het, van JJ wat se meatspin gaan “handy” wees

          • Admiral Chief Protector

            May 16, 2016 at 14:29

            Pls refresh, you trolled yourself in that article, 3 years ago

          • Ottokie

            May 16, 2016 at 14:33

            xD

            That was an innocent mistake

          • Admiral Chief Protector

            May 16, 2016 at 14:34

            But SO funny

          • Captain JJ bound

            May 16, 2016 at 14:37

            Hehe. Was on purpose 😀
            I am the selftrolling master.

          • Captain JJ bound

            May 16, 2016 at 14:13

            “Die geheim is nie in hoeveel jy in sit nie, maar wat jy in sit. Wat ek in sit is emosies en passie, en dis waar die verskil in kom.” – Ottokie

          • Ottokie

            May 16, 2016 at 14:14

            “en knoffel, baie baie knoffel”

    • Alien Emperor Trevor

      May 16, 2016 at 13:40

      That’s what meth is for!

      Reply

    • HairyEwok

      May 16, 2016 at 14:06

      18 hours practice…. 1 hour lunch… 30 mins fap time (you know they wont have a social life beyond the PC)… 1:30 mins gym… Eat Bar-one, get another hour… 4 hours sleep… Rinse and repeat.

      Reply

      • Admiral Chief Protector

        May 16, 2016 at 14:09

        1 hour fap time…..just……wtf dude?

        Reply

        • HairyEwok

          May 16, 2016 at 15:23

          adjusted

          Reply

          • Admiral Chief Protector

            May 16, 2016 at 15:36

            O_________________O

          • HairyEwok

            May 16, 2016 at 16:55

            Hahahaha ok ill take it out and the Bar One. Then it wont be superman level.

      • Strawman Jim

        May 16, 2016 at 15:02

        An hour’s worth of fap time? What… just what? Are you even human?

        Reply

    • miaau

      May 16, 2016 at 14:43

      that what is expected from professional musicians…. Well, ok, maybe 8 hour practise, then study

      Reply

    • BakedBagel

      May 16, 2016 at 14:44

      ohh new avatar ^_^ i liek it i liek it ^_^

      Reply

    • Strawman Jim

      May 16, 2016 at 15:12

      Madness! If they kept up with that regime, I doubt many of them would reach their early 40s – although he does mention that once you hit your mid-20s, your days as an “e-sport athlete” is over!

      PS: Igor Froböse is an epic name though!

      Reply

  2. Captain JJ bound

    May 16, 2016 at 13:58

    Where was this study when I was growing up?!

    Reply

    • HairyEwok

      May 16, 2016 at 14:09

      At that time, probably growing up with you.

      Reply

      • Captain JJ bound

        May 16, 2016 at 14:09

        *sizzle*
        Touché 😀

        Reply

      • miaau

        May 16, 2016 at 14:42

        sharp

        Reply

  3. Original Heretic

    May 16, 2016 at 14:09

    Heart rate up at 170bpm? Sounds about right. I think mine rockets to over 200 when right close to killing a Dark Souls boss while my friends are watching!

    Reply

  4. Gavin Mannion

    May 16, 2016 at 14:36

    eSports takes massive dedication and skill but I just don’t see it as a sport or the competitors as athletes.

    Reply

    • BakedBagel

      May 16, 2016 at 14:38

      One of my good friends plays Rugby in Japan, and i can actually say eSports players shouldnt be called athletes, like eSports is not Sports, there should be a new term put in place.

      imo 😛

      Reply

    • Pariah

      May 16, 2016 at 14:47

      I feel the same way about Soccer. 🙂

      Reply

    • Captain JJ bound

      May 16, 2016 at 14:51

      I agree with you on that.

      Reply

    • Mossel

      May 16, 2016 at 15:09

      Definitely agree. The amount of conditioning professional athletes need to go through in order to be the best is insane. Anyone who has ever trained hard for anything, be it athletics, cycling, swimming or a team sport like rugby will know. It is just not the same.

      Reply

  5. Francois Knoetze

    May 16, 2016 at 16:33

    I have nothing against eSports at all. In eSports itself I can see them being classified as an “athlete”. But not an Athlete in actual traditional sporting terms. Sure mental endurance, heart rate and dietary etc plays a roll but I cannot call anybody that sits behind a PC playing a game an athlete in the traditional term. With that theory each one of us are athletes e.g. working as a chef (past occupation) you had to start at 5 am, prepare,cook for clients, things go wrong, first rush hour comes through, adrenaline pumping, sprinting form on kitchen to the next, rinse repeat till 23pm. That would make me a kitchen athlete in my past occupation won’t it? But its not. Its a chef. The heart rate increase during a match is caused due to simulated fight or flight reactions of the brain. It might cause a spike at peak play , causing your body to simulate the event of a real life battle but the toll on you physically is not the same as a guy who mentally and physically prepares himself for a 35 Km trail run or a 122km mountain bike race. In fact I would argue that It won’t even come close. Its 2 separate disciplines. I suffer from Adrenaline fatigue for the last year. Basically means that the feeling you get the moment a lion jumps out of the bushes and chases you, heart pounding in your throat, eyes wide ready for battle is with me 24/7. I am exhausted by 4pm (actually now) but its not the same exhaustion I get from climbing up a mountain (as an example). what my point is . The body is unique and can operate in any condition. But a professional gamer is a professional gamer by discipline. being eSports you can be tabled as an eAthlete(for example) but a traditional one no.

    Reply

  6. Greylingad[He Charges!]

    May 17, 2016 at 11:10

    The term athlete does not apply to this form of sport, when we have definitions that are about as encompassing as “European” or “Asian Cuisine”, we all know that we’re talking about food, but we’re not being specific as to define what type of food, like Asian duck cuisine, or European (more Scottish) liver wrapped in sheep bladder fried to a crisp and then doused in the blood of cattle… As if the best option would be to map out the outer boundaries of the word “athlete”, would be the best option, but unfortunately, we are confined to what is the general descriptive term for someone partaking in sports of the physical nature… Now excuse me while I think of a term for “Heightened reflexes, twitch based, pixel hunting”…

    Reply

  7. Flightfluency

    May 18, 2016 at 07:33

    Heart rate is not enough for a person to be considered an actual athlete. After all, anyone sprinting on a 50 meter distance will have his heartbeat increase. What the above “study” proves is that gamers, like all humans (including non-gamers), can go through an increases in adrenaline, which in turn causes the heart rate to increase. To be a professional athlete you actually need to make physical exercises, to eat properly and to sleep properly. When it comes to this sort of things everything is calculated down to every detail and everything has to be planned daily, weekly, monthly and yes, yearly. And no, you don’t need to train 18 hours a day. In fact, that’s counterproductive. 🙂

    Reply

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