If you were asked to picture a gamer, a vision of a lazy teenager slobbed out on the sofa may spring to mind.
But many of the world’s most successful gamers including Johan ‘N0tail’ Sundstein, Jesse ‘JerAx’ Vainikka and Anatham ‘ana’ Pham, have turned their hobby into a career – and earn millions for it.
These professionals can spend up to 15 hours a day in front of a computer screen, with research showing this puts them under the same stresses as marathon runners.
So, what exactly does it take to become a professional gamer?
MailOnline has delved into the research to uncover the ideal age, physique, diet and even hand size of professional gamers.
What exactly does it take to become a professional gamer? MailOnline has delved into the research to uncover the ideal age, physique, diet and even hand size of professional gamers
The perfect hand size for gamers
- Tip to the base of index fingers – 7.6cm
- Index finger tip to wrist crease – 18.1cm
- Max finger span – 22.8cm
- Palm breadth – 8.7cm
Size really does matter – at least when it comes to gamers’ hands.
In a new study commissioned by Stakester, Dr Lindsey Migliore, an established e-sports physician, set out to uncover the ideal hand size for professional gamers.
Dr Migliore examined over 90 gamers aged 18-44, and compared their hand measurements to their gaming success across popular games including Call of Duty, Fifa and Mario Kart.
The results showed that the ideal size of the fingers varies depending on the game.
Gamers with small fingers were found to be better at high intensity games like Mario Kart.
However, those with large fingers were better at longer games that require more stamina, including Call of Duty and Fifa.
The participants also completed a click test, to see how quickly they could click their controller or mouse over periods of 5, 30 and 100 seconds.
The results revealed that, on the five-second test, people with short fingers and small hands could click more quickly.
On the 30-second test, people with a large finger span and palm breadth performed the best.
In a new study commissioned by Stakester, Dr Lindsey Migliore, an established e-sports physician, set out to uncover the ideal hand size for professional gamers
The optimum hand size for gamers is 3 inches (7.6cm) from the tip to the base of the index finger, 7 inches (18.1cm) from the tip of the index finger to the wrist crease, a maximum finger span of 9 inches (22.8cm) and a palm breadth of 3.4 inches (8.7cm).
Finally, on the 100-second test, people with longer fingers performed the best.
Overall, Dr Migliore concluded the optimum hand size for gamers is 3 inches (7.6cm) from the tip to the base of the index finger, 7 inches (18.1cm) from the tip of the index finger to the wrist crease, a maximum finger span of 9 inches (22.8cm) and a palm breadth of 3.4 inches (8.7cm).
‘As more research is being done on video gaming, the science of esports continues to grow,’ she said.
‘While you can’t change your hand size, this study highlights the importance of making sure your controller or mouse is the correct size to maintain those high speeds.’
If you’re a junk food fiend, it’s likely a professional career in gaming isn’t on the cards for you. According to Professor Froböse’s study, professional gamers consume significantly less sugar and fast food than the general public
|Food||Calories||Time taken to burn|
|Mars bar||230||57 minutes|
|Walkers Ready Salted Crisps||132||34 minutes|
|Big Mac||257||1hr 4 minutes|
|McDonald’s Medium Fries||320||1hr 21 minutes|
|Greggs sausage roll||328||1hr 23 minutes|
|Domino’s medium Margherita pizza slice||200||50 minutes|
While gaming is often seen as a lazy activity, a recent study revealed that male gamers can burn 420 calories over a two-hour gaming session, while female gamers can burn up to 472 calories – the equivalent of doing 1,000 sit ups.
Professional gamers can spend anywhere from 10 to 15 hours straight in front of a computer, which can take its toll on their body.
In a study last year, researchers from the German Sport University Cologne found that professional gamers have the same stresses put on them as marathon runners.
Professor Ingo Froböse, who led the study, said: ‘The amount of cortisol produced is about the same level as that of a race-car driver.
‘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 run, almost a marathon.
‘That’s not to mention the motor skills involved. So in my opinion, eSports are just as demanding as most other types of sports, if not more demanding.’
To cope with these stresses, gamers must be in peak physical condition.
Speaking to The Next Web, Mat Taylor, manager of Team Envy’s Dallas Fuel Overwatch team, advised: ‘Professional players – just like in any other sport – have to practice their craft and keep their minds and bodies well equipped to perform well.
‘Most important is just staying active with a balance of general physical fitness activities: you want to mix in a healthy dose of weightlifting, cardio, etc. to be in good physical shape.’
On average, a professional gamers’ career is very short and usually ends in his or her mid-20s, according to Professor Froböse. For example, Johan ‘N0tail’ Sundstein (left), became the top earner in all of esports in 2019 at age 25, while Kyle ‘Bugha’ Giersdorf (right) won the Fortnite World Cup in 2019 at age 16
The top earning eSports stars of 2022
- Zehai ‘Order’ Ceng – $974,622 total earnings
- Bojun ‘paraboy’ Zhu – $1,093, 943 total earnings
- Yinjun ‘Jimmy’ Xu – $959,483 total earnings
- Ronghua ‘coolboy’ Zeng – $778,597 total earnings
- Yien ‘King’ Lin – $769,113 total earnings
If you’re a junk food fiend, it’s likely a professional career in gaming isn’t on the cards for you.
According to Professor Froböse’s study, professional gamers consume significantly less sugar and fast food than the general public.
On average, gamers eat one bar of chocolate and one small bowl of salty snacks per week, and only eat fast food and ready-to-eat products twice a week.
‘The cliché of a quick slice of pizza in front of the console therefore seems to be outdated,’ the researcher said.
However, while 14.8 per cent of professional gamers are vegan or vegetarian, the majority still eat meat.
‘We see the same problem among eSport athletes as in the general population: there is still too much meat and too few vegetables on the menu,’ Professor Froböse said.
‘In particular, the consumption of red meat, which is associated with negative effects on health, should be reduced accordingly.’
Unfortunately for those picking up gaming at a later stage in life, it’s unlikely your hobby will turn into a career.
On average, a professional gamers’ career is very short and usually ends in his or her mid-20s, according to Professor Froböse.
For example, Johan ‘N0tail’ Sundstein, became the top earner in all of esports in 2019 at age 25, while Kyle ‘Bugha’ Giersdorf won the Fortnite World Cup in 2019 at age 16.
However, Professor Froböse believes that with the right training and better nutrition, gamers could extend their careers by up to five years.
Unsurprisingly, long gaming sessions in front of a bright screen can take their toll on professional gamers’ eyes.
‘Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS) is a term used by the American Optometric Association for digital eye strain. Using digital devices too frequently can cause eyestrain, dry eye, and pain in your neck and shoulders,’ explained the Optometry Centre for Vision Therapy in Texas.
‘These symptoms are caused by glare and low screen contrast, which force your eyes to work harder than they usually need to see.
‘Video games require the constant focus of the eyes, which can result in more frequent Computer Vision Syndrome than other use of electronic devices.’
For this reason, people who are short- or long-sighted, or who suffer from other eye health issues, may struggle to make it as professional gamers.
However, there are several things gamers can do to protect their eyes.
This includes investing in gaming glasses with blue-light filters, investing in screen filters, and focusing on distant objects to help stretch the eye-focusing ciliary muscles.
CAN INTERNET GAMING BECOME A MENTAL HEALTH DISORDER?
The World Health Organisation has classified playing video games on the internet as an official mental health disorder.
‘Gaming disorder’ is defined as ‘a pattern of gaming behavior characterized by impaired control over gaming, increasing priority given to gaming over other activities to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other interests and daily activities, and continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences.’
To be diagnosed with gaming disorder, the individual must:
(1) Experience significant impairment in personal, family, social, educational, occupational or other important areas of functioning
(2) Have experienced this impairment for at least 12 months
WHO advises gamers to be mindful of how much time they spend playing, especially if it is to the exclusion of other daily activities.
They should also be alert to changes in their physical or psychological health and social functioning which could be attributed to gaming.