Let’s admit a little secret: most gaming chairs are a total waste of money. For years, chair manufacturers have marketed neck-nuking, back-breaking, and spine-snapping seats as ideal for gaming. These racing-style chairs may seem nice and have many celebrity endorsements, but they don’t really do much for your spine’s health.
Some companies are trying to bring comfort to the masses, but even bad chairs can be expensive. So, what is it that makes gaming chairs so bad? Are they worth the money, or is the entire industry just one big scam?
Racing-Style Chairs: A Bumpy Ride for Gamers' Spines
For nearly two decades, the gaming industry has been dominated by so-called racing style chairs. Gaming chair companies have sponsored some of the biggest teams, players, and streamers in Esports. But their shares were not initially designed for gamers. These chairs were designed to keep race car drivers stable in their cockpits. Because when you are driving at hundreds of kilometers per hour, the ride can get a little bumpy.
The top of the chair presses into your shoulders when you reach out and hold the steering wheel, and the bucket seat is made to hug your thighs so you don’t move around too much while driving. It’s apparent that these seats were created with a specific use in mind. So how did they find themselves squished between a group of sweaty nerds?
The Rise and Fall of Racing-Style Gaming Chairs: What Went Wrong?
Throughout the mid to late 2000s, the US card industry was in a rough spot. Oil prices rose, and sales plummeted for luxury cars and larger vehicles with poor fuel efficiency. These were tough times for car manufacturers, but they also sucked for those who made parts for those cars.
This situation put luxury car seat company DX Racer in a bad spot. So, to find a new way to make money, they added wheels to their chairs and marketed them to gamers. Over the past 15 plus years, with some help from off-brand Bradley Cooper, DX Racer have dominated the gaming space for a long time.
Their chairs were being used at nearly every Esports event, with streamers and content creators worldwide repping their products. DX Racer got so big that they naturally inspired competition; over the years, more companies like them cropped up with their own gamer-oriented racing seats on offer.
Beyond the Hype: Seeking Comfort and Support in Gaming Chairs
But eventually, many consumers realized that they made a mistake. They bought into the hype and bought a chair that looked cool but needed to be more practical. These racing-inspired gaming chairs shared one unique feature of fully reclining. But, aside from that, most of them only have three main adjustments you can make for your comfort.
The cushions are designed to provide lumbar support and have a height-adjustable armrest. However, they rarely remain in position, which can be unpleasant. If the cushion moves, the chair will become a flat wall on your back, ruining your posture and giving you a lot of back pain.
One of the biggest grips everyone has with racing-style seats is the leather materials they use, often producing a lot of heat, especially during long gaming sessions. So, how bad could it be? The thing is, bad chairs can have a negative long-term impact on your body.
A Better Alternative: Exploring Ergonomic Office Chairs for Gamers
While racing-style chairs have improved over the years, they still need improvement. However, while the endemic gaming brands struggle to become more ergonomic, another company, Herman Miller, has become the gold standard.
They are best known for making some of the world’s most comfortable and beloved office chairs. When they discovered that the gamers were already using their chairs, they saw an opportunity to create a product oriented around gaming.
A new iteration of the embody gaming chair, developed in collaboration with Logitech, is said to address most problems that have dogged the competition for more than ten years. They include using copper-infused foam to regulate body temperature to address the heat issue, and Herman Miller’s design lets your spine rest in a more natural S-curve for your back. No more aching and perspiring on straight-backed leather walls.
The embody is over $1500, and an Aeron will run you over $1700. These are premium products, and they are priced accordingly. While you can find refurbished classic Aerons everywhere, they’re still surprisingly expensive. Most people don’t have that kind of money to spend on a chair, but that does not mean your back is screwed.
Companies like Steelcase, Haworth, and Autonomous have solid ergo office chairs that are sometimes cheaper. You could probably pick up a simple Amazon basics office chair and still find something better for your back than a racing chair for only about $100. It might not be a fancy chair, but it will treat your spine better than some expensive options.
No matter how much money you spend, a chair could feel comfortable for one person but not another. Finding the right chair, just like your mouse, keyboard, or monitor, can be difficult. There is no one-size-fits-all option that apply to everyone, and that’s something even Herman Miller can admit. Gamers have come a long way from people sitting on dining chairs and the floor, but some work must be done. However, there is no doubt that the industry is moving in the right direction. So long as you are not buying a straight-backed bucket seat with no lumbar support, you are not getting scammed. Hopefully, soon, everyone will be able to find a chair that is both affordable and right for them.