Razer’s Project Brooklyn, a gaming chair still in concept, had a splashy and flashy introduction at CES 2021. Exhibitors have definitely brought gamer seating to the popular convention, but the idea of a gaming chair veers off in wildly different directions when examined. In fact, gaming chairs appear to be available in two kinds of chairs—and the ones at CES this year nicely demonstrate that.
SEE: Best of CES 2021: Everything you need to know about the new products and tech announced (TechRepublic Premium)
First, there is an elaborate bells-and-whistles chair, which can incorporates the gaming screen, tacks on VR, features versatile armrests, and hidden pouches and tables, as well as flashing lights. The second type falls into a category that can be broadly described as a transformed-for-comfort-and-play office chair.
Gaming chairs, the recent past
The Arcadeo Gaming Chair was a CES innovation awards honoree in 2020 and was actually a kind of combination of the two styles, with “a full haptic immersive and sensorial experience,” and its eight separated actuators which the manufacturer said allows the user “to feel any movements and any action through your whole body while playing video games. It was supposed to retail at $800 and per the Arcadeo website, it’s not clear if the chairs are available yet.
The 3dRudder XR Millennium Chair was a CES innovation awards honoree in 2019, and while not as elaborate as the chair Razer showed at CES 2021, it was fairly tricked out and featured a base, speakers, built-in VR, and a lot more. Its 3dRudder foot motion controller is currently being sold on Amazon for $99 and 3dRudder’s official website appears to be focused (and only selling) foot motion controllers, compatible with PlayStation VR, Vive/Rifts/Index, and PC gaming.
This leads us to the gaming chairs at CES 2021. TechRepublic covered Razer’s Project Brooklyn earlier this week, which has a 60″ retractable/roll-up OLED screen built into the chair. Razer’s Mike Scharnikow, senior marketing manager, growth peripherals, perhaps explained it best (and most simply) as “our racing cockpit concept.”
Also debuting at CES 2021 was Future Seating’s Mavix Gaming Chair. Founder and CEO Tony Mazlish owned a successful office chair business when he started getting requests for customized chairs—for gamers. It sparked an idea that led to plenty of research and by November 2020, he launched the gaming chair arm of Future Seating, Mavix.
Kickin’ it old school, the OG gaming chair
Mazlish recalled a prevalent gaming chair style 10 to 15 years ago, “this sort of racing style gaming chair was birthed,” and cited it as the start of specialized chairs for gamers.
Parent approval of game playing has shifted almost dramatically as gamers’ equipment, including the chair. “Parents I talk to now, if somebody is really into gaming and has talent, they’re encouraging them to game,” he said. “It’s a real shift in the psychology. We saw it. We had an office-chair business and we saw people coming and requesting office chairs to use as gaming chairs.”
Mazlish explains that despite the appearance during a cursory look at the Mavix (which doesn’t look too dramatically different than a high-end office chair), they “changed a lot,” he emphasized, including the fabric “to be more cooling,” altered the mechanisms to reclining since gamers play differently and find their own comfort zone.
“We changed the whole branding and appearance to be something that felt younger,” Mazlish said. “We changed the materials to be softer, essentially for somebody who’s spending a lot of time sort of in that reclined position. Then we changed the wheels. We changed a lot of things.”
Even designers are starting to consider the relevance of gaming chairs. When a design icon starts making them, people are going to take notice. Mazlish cited the tony Herman Miller x Logitech G collaboration chairs, Embody ($1,500), Aeron ($1,450), and Sayl ($725) gaming chairs, which might be able to more seamlessly appear in a stylish, modern office or gaming room.
More than style, ergonomics are critical. Even if many of the gamers he’s designing chairs for are young, Mazlish explained, playing for eight, 10, or even 12 hours daily “in something that’s not supporting you, you will start to have neck pain, back pain, other kinds of joint pain” in “chairs that aren’t designed for the task.”
“Our chair is designed to be ergonomic and supportive,” he added. “The dynamic variable lumbar is the most important element that separates us. It moves independently of the rest of the chair and it adjusts to you, you don’t have to adjust it other than just raising it up and down. It will mold to you. That singular invention, a patented item, that is what makes us really different. Beyond that, the average Mavix chair has nine functions, nine different ways that you can adjust the chair to make it fit. We really have thought about the ergonomics through and through.”
The Mavix comes in three versions, the M5, M7, and M9, which retail between $500 to $1,000.