A gaming station, or a battle station as the internet has taken to calling them, refers to the general setup at which you spend the majority of your gaming time. Traditionally, these have been the domains of PC users but, increasingly, gaming stations are broadening out into console and even mobile gaming.
What we want to look at are the ergonomic items and necessities required for those going into gaming stations for the first time. Whether building for yourself or another, we're going to get you covered. Note that this doesn't cover the base device, rather the setup which surrounds it.
The granddaddy of importance when creating a battle station. Without proper ergonomics, a gaming station is not just going to be uncomfortable, but it can also cause serious long-term damage. So let's look at the different options.
PC gaming, whether you're playing Counter-Strike or Dota, is going to require a lot of time, focus, keyboard work, and mouse movement.
If you have a PC, you’re going to want to focus on the desk height, chair height, and distance from the screen. The exact ratio here can be difficult to calculate, as it differs heavily based on the height of the player. Because of this, we would recommend using an office ergonomic calculator to help you understand the general distances you want to work with. Don't worry, office ergonomics are suited to gaming too.
On the other hand, or under it, you'll want some form of wrist support. PC gaming tends to involve a lot of mouse movement, and this means support for your mouse wrist is a must. Gel pads are a popular choice here, as they prevent wrists from constant bend pressure.
You'll also want to buy an ergonomic chair, so longer play sessions don't damage your back. You don't need one of the hyper-expensive racing-chair models either, as many cheaper and simpler chairs have equal or better ergonomic profiles.
Console gaming offers some of the easier options in terms of ergonomics. Major controllers are ergonomically designed, which means flicking the sticks and mashing the buttons on Tekken or FF14 shouldn't be much of a problem on this end. Most console gaming is going to be done from the couch, as has been the case for generations. Given the sheer range of different couch designs, it’s difficult to narrow down the right position for you, though this guide should help.
You’ll also need to remember the minimum viewing distance. Optimal viewing here means sitting at around 1.5 – 2.5 times the diagonal length of your screen away. In other words, if you have a 50 inch TV, you’ll be sitting 75 – 125 inches away. Any distance further than this should also be fine, but avoid getting any closer.
Mobile gaming can present an ergonomic challenge, due to the flexibility of how and where the games are played. A typical example of this type of gaming could be those games from Casimba, which include table games, slots, and poker. In these games, as with most mobile games, constant hand movement and visual focus will be key.
In these cases, you want to ensure you hold your device around 16-18 inches away from your face to prevent eye-strain. You'll also want to ensure that your hands are relaxed yet able to maintain a grip on the device, which means holding from the bottom is often a solid bet. The best overall choice means using either an attachable or external controller to ensure maximum comfort and movement efficiency.
Exercise and Attention
Regardless of how you play, exercise and attention to posture are both going to be important. Exercise will help prevent RSI, and only by constantly checking yourself will you be able to ensure you don’t fall back into bad habits.
For exercises, the professional gaming company Subzero has some tips. In terms of attention, that's going to be on you. We've personally seen luck with timers on our phones, offering reminders every hour to complete a couple of stretches.
Remember, ergonomics is like brushing your teeth. It might not be fun, it might even be a pain, but it’s far better than dealing with the alternative.