The general perception of sim racers, indeed of gamers in general, has, for many years, been the stereotypical image of a teenage boy that doesn’t know what the outside world looks like, surviving on junk food and only leaving the sanctity of his room to go to the bathroom. Before that, video games were considered to be nothing more than a childish distraction, and therefore being a gamer was also considered nothing more than “playing with toys”. As the video games market has matured, so has, for the most part, the target audience, and from those evolutions in gaming culture and wider acceptance came esports. Competitive gaming is no longer confined to the realms of the bedroom-dwelling goblin that is allergic to sunlight, esports is a multi-million dollar industry, constantly growing to encompass bigger and broader commercial appeal
So how does the general perception of gamers look now? Old attitudes are always hard to change, but when you take a closer look at esports athletes, you don’t see a two-tonne whale, covered in crumbs, wearing faded clothes with their stomach hanging out under their T-shirt that “will fit again one day”. You see a very fit individual, with a healthy physique and steely determination to perform. It’s very rare these days to find a larger individual at the top of esports competition, irrespective of which genre of gaming, and due to the growing corporate interest involved in esports, and how that corporate interest is then represented by the individual competitor, and also due to the proven concept of “Healthy Body, Healthy Mind”. When the individual is in peak physical condition, this will prepare them better to be able to maintain stamina in their particular esport, and also be able to handle the pressure of being in the spotlight.
One of the biggest transformations in this respect in the sim racing world is Brendon Leigh. The young man from Reading in the UK rose to fame as the first F1 esports champion in 2017 at 19 years of age. Following this, he became part of the Mercedes F1 esports program and lost 20 kg (over 3 stone in old money) in preparation for the 2018 season, which he also won. Since then, his personal development has continued and even allowed Brendon to compete in part of the 2019 Formula Ford 1600 season with Kevin Mills racing. Now he is in the Ferrari esports camp and is based in Maranello Italy, this year he completed a 100km run. Here is Brendon in 2017, and here is Brendon now, and the evidence speaks for itself.
Whilst there will always be room in gaming for those that enjoy a pizza or three, to compete at the top level, against the best in the esport, to be part of the best teams, physical and mental condition is very important, and the bigger esports as a whole becomes, there will be greater emphasis on being in good physical condition.