Most of us spend a lot of time on our desks – more than we care to admit. Let’s face it: we all have pretty sedentary lifestyles nowadays. Whether you can’t be torn from work or heavy gaming, we’d all agree that it’s best to be comfortable while doing either of those activities. The key is to have an ergonomic chair that suits your style and needs.
Choosing the perfect seat is extremely important, especially if you spend more than three hours a day at your desk. It’s also to be expected that better-designed chairs are going to be on the more expensive side. So first thing’s first, you have to figure out if you’re in need of a gaming chair or an office chair. In this article, we’re going to explore the pros and cons of both to help you narrow down your search. Let’s get to it!
You can usually tell a gaming chair from an office chair because it’s more visually striking. The padding is thicker, the backrest is higher, and it will almost always come in fun colors. Gamers often go for this aesthetic to complete their flashy setups.
While some folks prefer this style, others would go for something a bit more muted, which is how office chairs are typically designed. It’s a lot of neutrals and metals – colors that won’t stick out like a sore thumb in an office setting.
Your desk chair can be both utilitarian and decorative. It’s all just a matter of finding the kind of chair that is more visually pleasing to you, and that’s entirely subjective.
If you’re a minimalist and you want your setup to look sleek, an office chair would fit the look that you’re going for. The same goes for a more executive feel. If you want something bold to go with your gaming rig, you can’t go wrong with a gaming chair. It’ll have you feeling like a pro gamer.
The primary purpose of a chair is to offer comfort and support. Remember, if you intend to be on your butt for most of your waking hours, you have to take your posture into account. Otherwise, you’ll be facing a lot of back and neck pain in your future.
To understand what levels of comfort you can achieve with the right chair, let’s take a look at every part of the average gaming chair and how it measures up to an office one.
If you look at the seat of a gaming chair, you’ll notice that the sides are raised. This is what’s known as a bucket seat, and this design was adopted from racing cars. Does this have an actual purpose? In a car, it sure does. It keeps the driver from shifting side to side during fast swerves. However, used as a desk chair where we’re pretty sure there isn’t going to be any swerving, it doesn’t seem to make a whole lot of sense.
It looks like buckets seats in gaming chairs was purely an aesthetic design choice. It gives the gamer the illusion of being cradled and of sitting in a racing car. That could go a long way when it comes to immersion, particularly if you’re into driving games.
Looking at it ergonomically, it would limit your seating space, giving you less room to move around and shift positions. Also, bucket seats can be tricky if you have a wider build. You can’t really be sure of the available seating space because manufacturers often include the raised sides in the entire width of the seat. On the plus side, bucket seats are great if you want to feel cozy and contained.
On the other hand, standard ergonomic office chairs do have contoured seats, but most of them have flat sides. You won’t feel as restricted sitting on an office chair should you wish to keep one foot or both feet off the floor because it accommodates more sitting positions.
Ergonomic chairs usually have high-density foam padding to distribute the sitter’s weight more evenly. This padding may be covered with anything from leather to softer fabrics. When it comes to gaming chairs, they usually have a leather covering or a faux alternative like Polyurethane.
Leather is a pricey material, so it gives off a luxurious vibe. However, among all the fabrics, it’s the hardest to maintain. You have to keep it away from direct sunlight and occasionally treat it with some leather conditioner so that it lasts long. On the upside, it’s not an insulator and doesn’t retain odors.
So even if an intense gaming session makes you work up a sweat or you spill your drink, cleanup isn’t going to be a pain. A quick wipe down will resolve the issue, and you don’t have to worry about stains. Leather is extremely durable and will prove to be a great investment if you take care of it properly. If you’re paranoid about sweat and spills, you could always shell out a little extra for a seat cover.
Office chairs usually have poly-blend coverings. They’re easier to maintain, but they tend to retain body heat and odors and are prone to staining. As for durability, you can expect the material to fade over time, and some of the fibers will start to come loose.
Sometimes, the backrests are completely made of a mesh filter. This type is obviously more breathable, which would be ideal if you live in a warmer climate and don’t have air conditioning.
Elevated Front Lip
Another thing that you’ll notice with a gaming chair seat is its raised front lip. This was also adopted from racing car seats. It’s supposed to slightly lift the driver’s legs so that he or she won’t have to strain to reach the pedals. So in a driving scenario, it totally makes sense. In a gaming scenario, it’ll only limit your seating space and slowly cut off the circulation to your legs.
Office chairs rarely ever have elevated front lips, which makes them more ergonomic in this respect. One of the criteria of the optimal sitting position is having your knees bent at a right angle (90 degrees) with both your feet planted on the floor. It’s much easier to get into this position with a seat that has a waterfall edge. With nothing obstructing the blood flow to your legs, you won’t feel any discomfort in the back of your things after prolonged sitting.
There are gaming chairs that scrapped the elevated front lip design. Still, the majority of them still have this design flaw.
Gaming chairs usually have winged backrests – another design lifted off of racing cars. They’re meant to keep the driver in place during sharp turns. If you think about it, even the most spirited video games won’t shake you off your chair. So again, it seems that winged backrests are another aesthetic design choice. From an ergonomic standpoint, there is no reason why you would need this. In fact, if you have a wider build, a seat like this will make you feel cramped.
Office chairs are often wingless, so they won’t restrict your upper body movements. You won’t have to lean forward to stretch your arms or struggle for more elbow room.
Head and Lumbar Pillows
Staying sedentary for most of the day will cause muscle strain. Maybe you’ve noticed that after a long day of gaming or working, you get a crick in the neck or lower back pain. Gaming chairs have head and lumbar pillows, which are often detachable, to address these problems. Do these really do the trick?
The short answer is yes; they help immensely. Since these detachable pillows can be adjusted, you can support the exact area of your back and neck that needs extra cushioning. These simple accessories are backed by science too. Head and lumbar pillows are found to keep the spine in a neutral position, keeping aches and pains at bay.
This kind of customization makes gaming chairs suitable for almost everyone who experiences muscle tightness and soreness. It also makes gaming chairs more versatile because you can simply take off these accessories if you have no need for them.
As for office chairs, most of them have fixed lumbar support, which could help you out a lot if you have an average body type. Higher-end office chairs also come with adjustable head and lumbar support that will adapt to most body types. Office chairs do not generally offer less support, particularly the pricier ones that have had a lot of thought put into their designs.
You can spot a gaming chair a mile away because of its high back and fixed headrest. Strap on the detachable head pillow and your neck and noggin will have all the support that they need during gameplay. This support is a must if you tend to lean back more often.
Ergonomically speaking, office chairs with mid to low backs will not offer this support at all. To illustrate this even further, think of your chair as a bed. Without a headboard and some pillows, most people won’t get a good night’s sleep. In a chair, where you won’t be supine, you’d still get the same cradling with a headrest and head pillow.
If you look hard enough, there are office chairs out there with adjustable headrests, which makes them superior because they’re not fixed. In some models, you can even adjust both the height and the angle of the headrest. For most people, a fixed headrest will do the job just fine.
As you’re shopping around for a desk chair, one of the main considerations you probably have is the armrests. There are a number of configurations out there – from 4D to 2D. 4D can be adjusted in four dimensions – up and down, forward and backward, and left and right. 3D can’t be adjusted from left to right. 2D can only be adjusted up and down, but they can still be swiveled to the angle that you want.
As you can tell, 4D is the best option because of its increased ergonomics. Gaming chairs usually have 3D armrests or higher. You can adjust these armrests according to the activity you’re doing, like typing or playing with a controller. Office chairs often just have 2D armrests, which shouldn’t be a problem if you don’t like switching your arm positions that much.
Most gaming chairs can be reclined quite far back, some even the full 180 degrees. Some people say that reclined seating isn’t the most ergonomic position to take when working or gaming. It is common knowledge that if you want to improve your posture, you should sit up straight. But is that scientifically accurate?
Based on some studies, it turns out that reclined seating takes a load off your discs because it puts less strain on them. So if you have persistent back pain, leaning back, possibly lying all the back sometimes, will help alleviate some of that pain.
The most optimal seating angle that puts the least strain on your back sits pretty at 135 degrees. So if you have a gaming chair, you can easily make that adjustment. Let’s be honest, sitting all day isn’t the best practice, and it helps a lot to put your body in other positions throughout the day. If you have the option to turn your chair into a makeshift bed, then that’s a plus that comfort seekers should be all over.
Regular office chairs do not recline that far back. This is probably because no one wants to see anyone lounging around in the office. Sitting reclined promotes relaxation, which isn’t the best way to boost productivity in the workplace. Folks who’d like to be able to focus more on the task at hand shouldn’t mind not having the option to lay their chairs flat.
Other Things To Consider
“The one chair” has to be sturdy. Now, what makes a sturdy chair? First, check the frame. The best gaming chairs usually have frames and load-bearing parts made of tubular steel. They’re light enough to wheel around but strong enough to withhold a lot of weight. Load-bearing parts refer to the gas spring and rollers. If you’re on the heavy said, make sure that you get a chair with a higher maximum load rating than your weight.
You should also check out the base and casters. Standard office chairs usually have plastic molded bases that may crack over time. A good base should be made out of Cast aluminum or maybe something stronger like steel.
It’s also useful to note that gaming chairs might require more tedious assembly than office chairs just because they usually have more parts. Some models even include stuff like retractable footrests, massage features, and built-in speakers.
Gaming chairs seemed to be decked out with all the bells and whistles, but that doesn’t automatically mean they’re more ergonomic. It all depends on the model. Sometimes, a well-designed office chair will keep more comfortable and productive for much longer.
It’s nice to know that if you experience muscle pains after prolonged sitting, there are some features to address those problems. It pays to know what your body needs to get the level of comfort that you want during work and gaming.
If we’re ruling out all the cheap options for both gaming and office chairs, their price points are pretty much the same. For example, the price for both chairs with a 4D armrest will play around $300. For chairs below $200, these are already considered budget-friendly.
If you want to make a real investment, you can expect to pay $400-$500 for premium models. For that much moolah, the gaming chairs in that price point will come with all the features coveted by gamers everywhere. The office chairs will look more like what a CEO will have in their office, with wood and leather accents.
If you’re on a budget, you’ll definitely get more features with a gaming chair, but as we discussed above, that isn’t necessarily the best choice for everyone.
If you’re keen on having a sweet reclining feature, you’d be better off going for a budget gaming chair. The other adjustments you can make on a gaming chair also make it a more practical choice. An office chair of the same price point will just fall short.
But, like in all things, you get what you pay for. If you really want to go for an executive, polished look, there are office chairs that are better for you ergonomically.
Will a gaming chair make me a better gamer?
How good you are at video games depends a lot on your skill level. However, getting the right chair will help you stay focused, immersed, and comfortable as you level yourself up. You can also adjust a gaming chair however way you want, which will keep your screen at eye level at all times without compromising your posture. In some way, the chair does make the gamer.
I don’t like how gaming chairs look. Can I game using an office chair?
You certainly can. Higher-end office chairs offer as much comfort and adjustability as gaming chairs while maintaining a minimalist look.
What does getting the right chair have to do with my health?
Soreness is the common experience that plague people who sit for hours on end. With the right chair, the muscles that we put the most strain on during work and gaming will be supported. Taking this precaution will prevent any long-term injuries and recurring aches and pains.
I’m short/tall. Will I still be able to sit comfortably in a gaming chair?
The reason for the gaming chair’s high customizability is so that not only people of average height and weight can enjoy it. If you’re skeptical about a gaming chair’s measurements, it’s better to thoroughly study the manufacturer’s site or just ask them about it.
Are there any features that are unique to gaming chairs?
Fancy gaming chairs have features that further immerse you in gameplay like surround sound and vibrations. Some even act as a control center, having access to your phone and TV.
Why go for a gaming chair?
If you consider yourself a serious gamer, spending most of your days in front of your PC, then it’s a no-brainer. It’ll complete the look of your setup since its design is heavily lifted from video games and motorsports. It also offers supreme comfort and adjustability, so that you’ll be able to tailor it to your body and its specific needs.
From a monetary standpoint, you’ll get more bang for your buck because the comfort level on a gaming chair is a notch higher than an office chair of the same price point. These chairs were designed with the comfort of the gamer during prolonged gaming sessions in mind. It’s only right that you get the proper chair for your favorite hobby.
Why go for an office chair?
If you think the gaming chair aesthetic is a bit garish and won’t fit into your workspace, you’d be much happier with a chair that means business. Tackled extensively above, gaming chairs aren’t automatically more ergonomic because of their added features.
If you want to stay productive throughout the day and staying comfortable while you’re at it, you’re better off with a chair that was designed specifically for long office hours. Reasonably priced office chairs will have all the adjustability that you need to stay focused and pain-free.
With all that’s been discussed above, one thing holds true: getting an ergonomic chair truly makes a difference. Now, whether you’d prefer a gaming chair to an office chair is entirely up to your needs and preferences. Either one provides many benefits for people who love to win in the virtual world and in the real world. Just like with anything, it’s best to get the right piece of equipment to get the job done.