Whether glued to a purpose built gamer throne (such as the E-win Racing series), slumped on a sofa, perched at the end of your bed, or awkwardly sat cross-legged on the floor, being seated is the default position when playing games.
Standing in front of your television, controller in hand, seems like something a madman would do – though apparently our Dom has done this on occasion – and for PC gamers using a mouse and keyboard combo it’s completely out of the question unless your second hobby happens to be contortionism.
Juggling a number of fairly sedentary jobs, I find myself spending prolonged and unavoidable periods of time sat down looking into screens. Although I’ve yet to feel the physical effects, there’s always been a niggling concern that it’s somehow harming my body while also making me lazy. After clocking out, returning home just to sit in a comfier, more familiar chair when gaming doesn’t help alleviate these concerns.
Very recently, I incorporated one of the VariDesk’s standing desks into my routine – both at work and during game sessions – hoping this would make an improvement. The VariDesk sent out was the ProPlus 36, the company’s best-selling model that can turn any regular desk into a standing desk with little to no effort.
Without doing my homework, I expected various pieces to be spread across my sitting room floor as I went at them with an Allen key for a few hours. To my surprise there was no assembly required whatsoever. Sure, this 36 inch model is fairly heavy, but once you place it on your desired surface, that’s the setup finish. Peel away the odd bit of cellophane here and there and you’re ready to have a standing desk soiree.
The ProPlus 36 is exactly 91.5cm wide and 75.5cm long, making it the ideal size for any medium to large desk. Once deployed, you simply press the two large levers on either side, pulling the Varidesk out into the desired height and position. At its maximum, the desk can extend its length to 106cm with a height of 44.5cm. As someone on the larger side at 6’4, the fully extended desk has been perfect, letting me tap away on a keyboard and watch screens with zero hassle. Although there are ProPlus 30 and ProPlus 48 models available, these don’t extend any higher and only scale in terms of width.
The ProPlus 36 was a happy medium and one that can easily accommodate a dual monitor set-up alongside a keyboard and accessories with plenty of room for other miscellaneous work/gamer gubbins. If using a single monitor, then having one or more consoles positioned on the standing desk is also an option with enough space for efficient cable management.
With prices starting at £275, there’s a lot to consider though the material and build quality is exactly what you would expect. There’s a sturdiness to these units with not even the slightlest wobble even when fully extended, underlining the top notch construction. This model had a max weight load of 15.8kg and it was only when deliberately applying weight that I felt it shift even slightly. During work or casual use there’s no bend or flex whatsoever, even when adjusting the height.
The textured desktop surface is remarkably durable too. Even after several weeks of scrapes and scratches beneath computers, gaming hardware, and the harsh toils of hobbycraft, I could see no evidence of the desk ever being used.
Using the ProPlus for gaming has been a strange experience to say the least. Or it was, at least. There’s a certain mental hurdle you have to overcome before it starts to feel natural – at first it’s like standing at a demo kiosk in your local Argos, minus the queue of kids impatiently waiting for their turn.
The way the desk extends, its lower layer almost wrapping itself around you waist, can also make it seem like you’re standing at some kind of lectern, preaching to a congregation or about to fire up a powerpoint presentation.
However, after a few sessions, it just clicked, no doubt helped by the fact that I’ve mostly been stood while playing VR games. There’s something liberating about being stood up and still being able to use a mouse/keyboard or controller – an extra degree of mobility and energy you don’t get from being slumped on your seat of choice.
There are no compromises, either. The ProPlus occupies a pre-existing space and can be folded down to a discreet size when not in use.
As for the physical benefits, TheSixthAxis doesn’t have a division of scientists to call on for a thorough test. A cursory glance online will tell you many things – that a standing desk can lower your risk of heart disease, that it will improve your mood, and help shred an extra 1,000 calories a week.
It’s hard to buy into some of the claims made by manufacturers and the health officials they’ve tapped for endorsements. However, I must say I’ve felt more lively since using it and find it easier to throw myself into work tasks and gaming sessions without the niggling thought of being ensconced in a chair for hours on end and the effects poor posture might have on me.
There are practical perks too. Having a multi-tiered station has dramatically improved the way I organise my gaming setup and, speaking of chairs, I’ve been able to remove mine and open up even more space while sparing my floor the gradual wear and tear of rolling back and forth, especially carpeted surfaces.
The ProPlus has been an unexpected addition to my default gaming setup, but has quickly become a permanent one. It comes at no small expense (even when you consider VariDesk’s range being cheaper than other, less reliable looking alternatives) though the benefits of switching to a standing desk quickly stack up.