FIFA 21: 'Gamer lean' is real and genuinely helps

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We've all experienced it. One moment you're in the early stages of a friendly game of FIFA with your mate, you are concentrating, but not totally absorbed by the action. All of a sudden, you go 1-0 down to a flukey deflected goal - and everything changes.

Incensed that you now trail in a game you were cruising in, you turn to the 'gamer lean', propelling your upper body closer to the screen as if this will somehow help in your quest to rescue the match. 

As it turns out, though, it actually does. Particularly where FIFA is concerned!

A joint research project between the mobile gaming app Stakester and Leeds University has shown that leaning forward does give you a statistically better chance of victory.

Once just a humourous meme, there is now credible science behind the theory that 'the lean' improves your focus and alertness when playing.

The survey of 10,000 gamers saw almost 80% admit to leaning forward during moments of tension. Dr. Andrea Utley - a reader in motor control in the School of Biomedical Sciences at Leeds University - has confirmed that the technique does offer some short-term benefits

"Moving your main sensory system closer will help your focus and concentration, but without full postural support, especially from the trunk and neck muscles, you will get fatigued," she revealed, per joe.co.uk.

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The relatively quick nature of a game of FIFA makes it the perfect title to examine this theory further, which is exactly what Dr. Utley did.

Of the almost 8,000 who had earlier confessed to leaning forward, it was discovered that 49.2% did so naturally, 9.3% did so deliberately and 41.5% found that they did both.

When asked to explain their choice of body positioning, there were a range for responses. Some argued that the lean "supported my body better", while others felt it eliminated distractions. However, there was no one explanation that stood out as the clear frontrunner. 

To gain a real insight into the effectiveness of leaning forward for those who actively chose to do it, Dr. Utley and Stakester commissioned a full study.

Recruiting 10 FIFA players, who each played for an average of 8-10 hours a week, Dr. Utley asked them to record themselves while playing a total of five online matches.

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None of the subjects were told of the reasons for the study, nor was the 'gamer lean' mentioned.

"We analysed each player’s movement and body position in the footage," read the study. "We noted every major event that transpired in-game, how players reacted to them and their body position when each event occurred."

Participants were only asked about their own thoughts on their body position after the games had been played.

Does the 'gamer lean' benefit players of FIFA?

The results of the 50-match study were pretty one-sided.

Those that leaned forward during gameplay scored a massive 110 goals, more than doubling the 52 netted by players who did not lean.

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The video footage captured also showed that players who lean forward were more likely to do so when one of their star attackers got the ball. 

Cristiano Ronaldo, in particular, caused a greater amount of leaning whenever he came into possession.

It is not just the attacking side of the game that was found to be helped by learning forward either. Defensively, those who opted not to lean were shown to be more vulnerable to conceding goals. 

Those that did not lean let 70 goals in, compared to just 56 being conceded by those that employed the lean. 

There is a catch, though. The 'gamer lean' should be used sparingly throughout a match for maximum effectiveness. Dr. Utley revealed that the longer a player relies on leaning forward, the more open they are to a decline in performance.

"Winning players leaned forwards for just 4.69 minutes – 35.5% of an average length game – while losers spent 7.93 minutes in the leaning position [...] 52.6% of the average game on FIFA 21," she revealed.

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