Make no mistake, gaming chairs have become an increasingly popular choice for avid computer users, whether you are a heavy gamer or someone who spends long hours working at your office desk. Hyper-stylised, they are designed for emersion, transporting you into the game, but too often they fall short when it comes to providing comfort and are not necessarily good for your health and posture.
In this guide we will introduce you what a gaming chair is and list their advantages and disadvantages compared to an office chair. We also feature a table for gaming chairs vs office chairs and how these attributes weigh up regarding your health and comfort.
What is a Gaming Chair?
Gaming chairs are specifically designed, ergonomic chairs meant for long hours of gaming. Gaming chairs look different to office chairs with some often resembling a racing car seat with a bucket style seat and bright contrasting colours.
3 Types of Gaming Chairs:
It is worth pointing out that there are three types of gaming chairs: PC Gaming Chair, Rocker, and Floor. Take a look at the differences below.
PC Gaming Chairs:
This type of gaming chair resembles a high back ergonomic office chair. The key differences are a bucket style seat and extra cushioning, often resembling racing car seats.
This type of gaming chair lives up to its name by allowing the user to rock forward and backward. These chairs are often lower to the ground and angled backwards putting you in a relaxed driving position, ideal for racing games and multiplayer games.
This type of gaming chair does not bear any resemblance to an office chair as its essentially a structured floor cushion with no base or stand. These supped up padded chairs have limited ergonomic features and are designed for the more casual gamer looking for a comfortable spot.
Gaming Chair vs Office Chair
With the different types of gaming chair identified we will take the PC Gaming chair as a comparison against an office chair as they are the closest in appearance and function. Both chairs typically have casters, swivelling bases, armrests, padding on the seat, back, and/or armrests, and a variety of adjustable settings.
To simplify, we have created a comparison chart below and we will go into more detail on each feature on each chair further down the page.
Office chairs are typically upholstered using basic fabrics, which blend in with or compliment an interior scheme rather than standing out and are designed for comfort. Most office chairs are designed for people to sit in all day, while they work and have several adjustments to accommodate different body shapes, back pains and heights.
The primary function of an office chair is to be comfortable with aesthetics taking second place. That is not to say that office chairs do not look good it is just that their design is generally aimed at an office environment, so may not be as cool looking.
You could be forgiven for thinking that you are getting more value for money when you compare a gaming chair to an office chair, as the gaming chair seems to have more padding and back support then a regular office chair. We would however encourage you to look twice because the extra padding and lumbar cushions and headrests may not give you the correct support your body needs.
Lets take a closer look at the main differences and work out which type of chair is better for sitting at an office desk and ergonomically.
The Seat: Bucket seat vs flat seat
As outlined earlier, many gaming seats have been inspired by racing car seats, adopting a bucket style with raised sides. This obviously looks cool, but what practical or ergonomic function does it serve? In racing cars, bucket seats secure the drivers as they shift from left to right, but as a gamer, home, or office worker your body will seldom be moving sideways.
This trend will not be adopted by office chair manufacturers any time soon, simply because bucket seats serve no ergonomic purpose, and can even be counterproductive. With raised sides there is less room to move yourself around, which could restrict blood flow to your feet, more so, than a regular office chair seat. Also, for larger users its important to note the seats width incorporates the raised sides, which isnt an accurate measurement of the available seat area.
We say: A good office chair beats a good gaming chair in the seating department when it comes to ergonomics. The raised sides and bucket style seat does not support as many seating positions compared to a regular office chair.
The Seat Edge: The raised front lip vs waterfall seat
The raised lip on gaming chairs is another feature mirroring the car seat design and unfortunately serves as much purpose as the raised sides do.
The elevated front on a car seat helps to prop the drivers legs up slightly so it is easier for them to reach the pedals. It also helps to keep the driver in the seat. Whilst seated in an office chair there are no pedals to push. The recommended ergonomic sitting position is knees bent at 90 degrees and feet flat on the floor. At such a position, as seat with a waterfall edge, or a flat edge, found on office chairs, is best for reducing pressure build up in the back of the thighs.
We Say: A decent ergonomic office chair with a waterfall edge seat beats a gaming chair with a raised edge in terms of ergonomics and comfort.
Detachable lumber and head pillows vs Fixed lumbar support
Another notable feature of gaming chairs is the are pillow like headrests and chunky lumber support cushions, which are tempting features for gamers who spend long hours in one position. We must question if these accessories serve any ergonomic purpose? Unlike the bucket seats, it seems that they do! Many of the lumbar supports on gaming chairs can be adjusted so can target the precise area of your back that needs cushioning. Adjusting the lumbar support in this way can be better than office chairs as they tend to feature fixed lumbar supports. However, it must be said that as we look at the more expensive, ergonomic office chairs the lumbar support is far superior to those found on gaming chairs.
We Say: There is evidence and a few studies that back up the positive role of external lumbar supports and pillows aiding posture and comfort. The fact that they are removable and often hight adjustable makes them more versatile than office chairs with fixed lumbar support. However, higher end, ergonomic office chairs still outstrip gaming chairs in terms of providing superior back and neck support, adapting to the users back as they move such as Humanscale's Diffrient World Chair or Senator Freeflex chair.
Winged backrest vs Wingless backrest
The winged backrest is another notable feature which sets gaming chairs (looks wise) apart from office chairs. This again is another inspired idea from the racing car seat design, and you may have already guessed it, but they do not offer any benefits from an ergonomic perspective. However, they do offer gamers more, in terms of the gaming experience when playing racing car games.
We Say: Winged backrests certainly make you feel youre in the driving seat when youre pushing yourself over the finish line playing Grand Turismo. However, when considering a gaming chair for everyday use you will find the winged back restricting your upper body movements. Larger users may also feel more cramped in a chair with wings, so should look for extra wide versions to compensate.
Permanent fixed headrest vs Optional adjustable headrest
You may think we have been slightly harsh on the gaming chair so far, so we want to up their points on the score board. The saving grace of the racing car sat design, lies in the taller back and headrest, which is often not a feature on entry level budget office chairs. Combined with the removable head pillow to support the neck, this is better ergonomically for the user who tends to lean back.
Some Office chairs, however, do fight back in terms of having adjustable height or angled headrests, but it is not a complete win, because the gaming chair combines neck support with head support.
We Say: Headrests in general are a good idea when working at a desk. Some people like to lean back a little whilst working and recline fully when talking to colleagues or taking a break from the screen. Supporting the head and neck whilst adopting this posture is a good thing and gaming chairs offer that level of support.
High level of back recline vs Medium level of back recline
Most gaming chairs come with a high level of backrest recline or back tilt, some even as far back as 180 degrees but what is the reason for this? Well as any serious gamer knows gaming can be quite an intense experience so after a few victory royals, you can sit back and relax comfortably giving your back a rest from sitting up straight.
There has recently been a lot of conflicting advice and studies regarding the best angle to sit at. It has been discovered that sitting up straight may not be the be best position when it comes to long term comfort and ergonomics. Adopting a reclined position puts the least strain and stress on your discs, according to studies, as your back is absorbing more weight than if you were sitting up straight.
The Canadian researcher Waseem Amir Bashuir at the University of Alberta Hospital made this discovery in a study using 22 volunteers with no back pain history. The subjects assumed three different positions: slouching; sitting up straight at 90 degrees: and sitting back at 135-degree posture all while their spines were scanned.
A 135-degree body-thigh sitting posture was demonstrated to be the best biomechanical sitting position, as opposed to a 90-degree posture, which most people consider normal said Waseem Amir Bashuir.
So, for those serious gamers or workers who spend many hours seated, a chair with a high level of recline would seem beneficial to help avoid back aches and injuries. Many entry level office chairs and budget executive chairs are quite restricted when it comes to the tilt mechanism and back recline angle.
We say: We believe that gaming chairs with high recline offer users more positions than standard office chairs, making them a better choice when considering each option in terms of budget and entry level point.
Fully adjustable armrests vs Height adjustable arms
We are now entering the final level of the blog and we are looking at armrests. Armrests are very helpful in providing support for your arms and hands. They will help to guide both your arms and hands into a relaxed position. They can also take away stress from the shoulders and the neck, helping to alleviate neck and shoulder pain.
It seems that gaming chairs offer more variety when it comes to adjustable armrest as they often adjust in height, depth and angle to suit a variety of arm positions. Office chairs do not offer as much variation of armrests straight out of the box and tend to creep up in price when opting for multi-functional arms.
We say: If you are specifically requiring arms for your chair, then gaming chairs will offer more choice and flexibility than a office chair at a similar price point.
We think that gaming chairs look great and that they are popular for that reason. Many gamers have their own You Tube channels and are presenter savvy so a gaming chair shows the rest of the world that you are serious about your game. Its not all about the looks though as there are some notable ergonomic features that come as standard with some gaming chairs which are often not found on office chairs at the same price point.
However, once you up your budget, ergonomic office chairs start to outstrip gaming chairs in terms of ergonomics and comfort. Ergonomic Office chairs in this category feature innovative flexible materials, breathable mesh and optional extras such as adjustable headrests, seat slide, back height adjustment and more.
We hope you have found this blog useful and hope it has steered you in the right direction to making the right decision when choosing a work chair.
Thanks for reading!