E-Gamers Can Be as Skilled as Pro Athletes

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For some highly dexterous youngsters and young adults, they may not even need to leave their bedrooms to become professional athletes. That is, as long as that bedroom has high quality Internet speed, according to a new study, these hand-eye pros are good to go.

Few people doubt the mental prowess needed to win competitions and make money playing computer games, and German Sports University Professor Ingo Frobose says these participants have almost as much of it as pro athletes in traditional sports.

According to a report on the English-language, German website, Deutsche Welle, Prof. Frobose became "the very first scientist" five years ago to look closely at electronic, or "e-gamers," as athletes. Frobose's findings show that e-gamers may very well have skills that qualify them as athletes.

"We were particularly impressed by both the demands placed on the motor skills and their capabilities," said Frobose, an injury prevention and rehabilitation expert.

In sports competition, mental skill in e-gaming plays much the same role as physical skill. In fact, Dr. Dominic Micklewright of the University of Essex found in 2010 that e-gamers' mental acuity rivals that of "real" athletes, with their reaction times nearly matching those of fighter jet pilots.

"Someone of this age [most e-gamers are in their twenties] should be much fitter," Dr. Micklewright tells the Telegraph, "but perhaps this is the occupational hazard of the professional gamer who can spend around 10 hours a day in front of a screen."

Not all athletic qualities are lacking in e-gamers, though. According to Frobose, the motor skills needed to compete in e-gaming outdo all other sports.

"The eSports athletes achieve up to 400 movements on the keyboard," he said, "and the mouse per minute, four times as much as the average person."

This seems all the more impressive knowing that e-gaming requires "assymetrical" movement of both hands, in which they are often moving in different directions.

The stress facing e-gamers also compares to that facing traditional athletes. German Sports University scientists tested e-gamers to see how their cortisol levels -- the stress hormone -- compared. What they found was comparable to sprinters and NASCAR racers.

"The amount of cortisol produced is about the same level as that of a race-car driver," said Frobose. "This is combined with a high pulse, sometimes as high as 160 to 180 beats per minute, which is equivalent to what happens during a very fast race, almost a marathon."

(Another noteworthy comparison: Just as some pro athletes compete using banned drugs like steroids, many (if not most) pro e-gamers keep their minds sharp using drugs like Adderall.)

Despite the other results of his recent study, Prof. Frobose found much the same fitness results in e-gamers as Dr. Micklewright.

"In terms of their fitness, many of our test subjects are simply average citizens, and average citizens worry me," said Frobose.

Most professional e-gamers "simply aren't fit" because they lack the proper exercise regimen, he added. Doing such exercise,  he argues, would aid these players tremendously.

Simple gamers in one sense, pro athletes in another sense. But still making money playing video games.