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Can You Still Play PC Games with a Standing Desk?

Avatar of Autonomous Autonomous | Jan 8, 2021
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Gamers can be very particular about their setups, and that doesn’t just mean their PCs. For many, the choice of desk and chair are just as important as the hardware used to play games.

It’s no surprise, then, that many people wonder if a standing desk even works when you’re gaming. Can you play games using a standing desk, or is it more of a tool for office ergonomics?

The Simple Answer

The short answer is that yes, you can play games on a standing desk. You might have a few specific concerns, you might need to make a few adjustments to your lifestyle, and you might not find it comfortable initially, but nothing is stopping you from doing so.

Standing and gaming

Many people game at their standing desks all the time, and many even use additional accessories like under-desk treadmills to exercise while gaming.

The Benefits to Gaming on a Standing Desk

There are a lot of potential benefits to using a standing desk while gaming. Many of them are physical, but some of them are psychological as well.

  • Better overall ergonomics. First and foremost, a standing desk has better ergonomics than sitting at a desk in a chair all day. The vast majority of people don’t sit properly in their chairs, and a poor posture can lead to all manner of pain throughout the body. That pain leads you to sit in a worse position to alleviate it, and that compounds the injuries. Next thing you know, you’re confronting spinal fusion surgery and chronic pain. That’s no way to live!
  • A standing desk forces you to stand in a more natural posture. A lot of evidence suggests that standing is healthier than sitting over the long term. After all, as biological creatures, we evolved over millions of years for a particular kind of upright posture, and standing suits that much better than sitting.

Standing and ergonomics

  • Ease of adjustment between sitting and standing. Using a plain old standing desk makes it inconvenient to sit again, but that’s why we’d always recommend getting a desk that converts between sitting and standing. Most of the time, when people talk about a standing desk, what they’re usually talking about is a desk that converts between standing and sitting. Otherwise, it’s more of a counter or shelf, right?

Standing at a desk is great, but sometimes you need to sit. Maybe you injured your foot, maybe you pulled a muscle, or maybe you need more support for your back. Whatever the case, using a desk that can adjust between the two makes it much easier to switch between them.

  • Overall reduction of back pain. Back pain plagues millions of Americans every day. Surgery to correct spinal issues is some of the most common elective surgery in the world. It’s all because of our office chairs and our poor posture. Standing helps alleviate this by forcing you to stand in a posture that is better for your back. After all, if you stand up straight, you’ll find you can stand comfortably for hours at a time. If you slouch or hunch you’ll end up with back pain after minutes, and that demands adjustment.
  • Completely customizable experience. With a good standing desk, you can adjust every bit of your experience. You can change monitor height, you can change your keyboard angle, you can change desk height, and more. All of this allows you to customize your gaming setup for maximum efficiency. Need that high APM for competitive League? You have a complete range of motion for your arm to not only allow it but to also minimize the risk of RSIs while you practice. Need to limber up between two tense rounds in Call of Duty or Counter-Strike? Bounce a little, shake it out, and you’re good to go, without needing to pry yourself out of a chair or take a break from your gaming session.

Adjusting gaming setup

  • Timed fatigue. Okay, here’s an oddball benefit. Yes; sooner or later, while standing at a desk, you will get tired. Your back might get sore, your feet might ache, you might find tension in your neck and shoulders. After all, humans are animals evolved to move, not to stand stationary for hours at a time.

What you’ll find is that this gives you a natural timer. When the fatigue adds up, it’s time to switch, whether you take a break from gaming to doing something else, or you transition back to sitting. This kind of regular adjustment gives you a healthier overall lifestyle.

  • Caloric consumption. Another fringe benefit is that standing takes slightly more energy than sitting. You’re often making small movements, adjusting your weight, and generally using your muscles more than you do when you’re sitting. This “passively” burns more calories than you burn while sitting, because it keeps your muscles moving.

You’re not going to shed a ton of weight just by standing instead of sitting, but it can promote a healthier lifestyle by keeping you slightly more active. You can also couple a standing desk with a flat treadmill or another kind of exercise machine or plan (RingFit breaks, anyone?) and build a better body for yourself.

Concerns Using a Standing Desk for Gaming

While there are a lot of benefits to using a standing desk when you’re gaming, you’ll want to address a few specific concerns. If you have any other specific questions we don’t answer here, feel free to ask them by contacting us through chat or email.

  • Wobbly desks. Nothing is worse than trying to be accurate in an FPS or with clicks in League, only to find your screen wobbling. This is caused by one of two things; either your monitor is precariously balanced on something that wobbles (either its stand or a riser) or your desk as a whole shakes. Some of the cheaper standing desks – the pure standing desks, not the transition desks – are often precariously balanced on a pair of thin legs or even a single wobbly support leg, and that makes them less supportive of your gaming hardware. The solution to this, of course, is a high-quality desk.

Wobbly standup desk

  • Jerky transitions. We’re well into the era of SSDs, so computers aren’t quite as susceptible to shock as they used to be, but it’s still not good to shake or vibrate them too often. Connections can come loose, and those kinds of minor problems are a huge hassle to diagnose. Jerky transitions between sitting and standing (such as using a ratchet or gearing system) can also increase the risk of a monitor, accessory, beverage, or even your PC tower itself falling off of your desk. Talk about devastating!

The solution here is to find a desk that uses smooth, quiet electric motors to do the transition between sitting and standing. We recommend the SmartDesk, both because it offers that smooth transition and because you can tell it to adjust remotely via an app or with the touch of a single button. Get up, hit the rise button, and go get a snack; your standing setup will be waiting when you get back.

  • Foot soreness. One of the most common issues that people face when using a standing desk is foot pain. Many of us are not used to being on our feet all day, and that can lead to pain in the soft tissues and more chronic conditions like fallen arches.

Most people recommend wearing shoes while working at a standing desk. You want a nice pair of shoes with insoles that offer arch support. We have a whole guide about picking the best shoes for working at a standing desk.

We also recommend keeping a pair of shoes specifically as house shoes or shoes for your desk. If you only wear them when you’re at your desk, and not outside, you’ll avoid the common issues of tracking dirt and grime everywhere and wearing them out faster.

Viewing height

  • Monitor height. A key piece of the ergonomic puzzle is the viewing height of your monitor or monitors when you’re working or gaming. Luckily, the same advice applies whether you’re sitting or standing. You want the top half of your screen to be roughly eye level or slightly lower than eye level. The lower your screen is, the harder it will be to stay in an upright posture when you’re gaming. It can be a pain to look down all the time, so we recommend either a monitor riser or monitor mounting arm.

Must-Have Accessories for a Gaming Setup

If we’ve convinced you and you’ve decided to get a standing desk setup for your gaming PC, there are a handful of accessories we truly recommend.

  • A sit-stand conversion desk. A robustly-engineered desk that offers flexibility is better than a cheap desk that only offers sitting or standing, and not both. Always look for a desk that is sturdy and stable. We also recommend one with electric motors to make smooth adjustments (ideal for the safety of your gaming PC). Our desk offers quite a few additional smart features that you might find useful in your gaming habits as well.
  • A monitor riser. As mentioned above, a riser or a monitor arm is usually a good idea. You don’t want your screen to be too low or too high, and if you have more than one, they should generally be side to side rather than on top of one another. A monitor riser allows you to position your screen slightly higher than your desk surface, but it’s difficult to adjust to the perfect height. A monitor arm works best with a solid top (not a glass desktop) and can hold anywhere from one to six monitors. The choice of which works best for you is, of course, yours.
  • An anti-fatigue mat. Shoes are a must-have, but we also recommend using an anti-fatigue mat. Everyone who has tried a standing desk for any length of time knows that thick carpet, yoga mats, and other forms of cushioning simply don’t do the trick. Anti-fatigue mats are simply too powerful. Finding the right kind of mat to do the job isn’t easy, but there are tons of them on the market, and they’re cheap enough that if one doesn’t work out, you can always try another.

Anti fatigue mat

  • A headset stand. One thing you might consider with a standing desk is your mobility. Many people often find themselves transitioning to wireless devices, including mice, keyboards, headsets, and controllers. A headset stand is a convenient place to hold your headset without risking crunching it when lowering or raising your desk, or dropping it off the desk if it’s precariously hanging on the side. It’s also a good way to keep your headset up off of your desk surface, keeping it cleaner and giving you more space to work with on your desk itself.
  • A mic and mic stand. Ignore this one if you’re using a headset microphone. If you want slightly better audio quality, you might benefit from picking up a solid mic like a Yeti from Blue, and a mic stand that stands on the floor next to you and can be easily adjusted. The reason here is that mics are generally pretty sensitive and can pick up noises when you transition your desk, and it’s easier to get a mic stand to alleviate the issue than it is to do audio post-processing to solve the problem.
  • A good chair. Finally, remember that sometimes you do want to take breaks from standing all day. Even the fittest in-shape people get tired after standing at their desk for hours on end, and that goes double for gamers. Picking up a nice chair to use when your desk is in the sitting position is a great option.

So there you have it; our easy answer. Yes, you can use a standing desk when gaming. You’ll want to take frequent breaks to protect your back and neck, and it might take some time to get used to it, but it will be a welcome change when you’re adapted to your new setup.

If you're considering a standing desk for gaming, give it a try! It's a great way to stretch your legs in-between gaming sessions and improve your circulation and overall health.

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