Do specialist gaming shoes work? Possibly, but they’re likely not worth the cost according to one podiatrist

With companies marketing shoes to gamers, a podiatrist says don't be misled by marketing materials geared to sell.

Photo via K-Swiss

From computer specs down to the peripherals used, top gamers want to be the best by using the best. Now, companies like K-Swiss and Puma are looking to help gamers in an area overlooked before: footwear.

The companies released a new line of gaming footwear in 2019 including K-Swiss’s MiBR One-Tap sneakers, which sell for $125, and the Puma Active Gaming Footwear, which is $100.

The marketing language used for both shoes aims to help gamers reach their maximum performance. But could a shoe actually improve your performance in a game?

Dr. Maggie Fournier, a podiatrist with Gundersen Health System in Wisconsin, says the shoes won’t improve your performance. But it may help you play at your best. A key component to any equipment, including shoes, comes down to the comfort. That alone can bring out your best effort.

“You need to be comfortable in them and some stylish shoes might not be comfortable yet they look good,” Fournier said. “If you walk around and you’re not comfortable, you’re starting to have pain, then maybe the shoe is the first thing to look at.”

Problems can also develop for those who sit for long periods of time without shoes on. Fournier said problems like foot pain or plantar fasciitis, an inflammation of the thick band that connects the heel bone to the toes, can arise when getting up and walking around with no shoes in the home. This is because the foot doesn’t receive adequate support for those periods of walking and standing. She says the gamer shoes could be a good avenue for these types of instances.

“So whenever they do get up and walk around to the restroom, bathroom, or kitchen, they do have that support, comfort and protection that a shoe provides,” Fournier said.

It can be difficult to get a patient to actually wear shoes inside the home, however, since they often feel it’s bulky, heavy, or makes their feet hot. A lighter shoe or one with mesh—as advertised in these gamer shoes—could help alleviate these concerns.

Before you rush to order the shoes, though, this doesn’t mean Fournier would recommend getting them. With both shoes above $100 in the U.S., Fournier couldn’t bring herself to suggest these shoes are worth the cost.

“The shoes have to follow function and I don’t see the function on their feet when their gaming,” she said.

Fournier also advised caution when analyzing the marketing material. Marketing materials always give a sense that the item being advertised shouldn’t be missed—and these gaming shoes are no different. Looking at K-Swiss, even the name is used to create a sense of high performance. A one-tap, a single-shot kill often found in first-person shooters, portrays high efficiency and skill. The company collaborated with MIBR and used its CS:GO team in the promotional material to give buyers a sense of being as close to a professional player as possible.

And don’t think that a higher cost equates with a better fit.

“You want to make sure that the shoe, the outside of the shoe, actually fits the outside of your foot,” Fournier said. “You don’t want to try and squeeze your foot into a shoe that is narrower than what you have. There is no such thing as breaking in a shoe.”

The fact is, even a cheap $20 (or less) pair of shoes could give a gamer the feel and comfort they need without breaking the bank.

“If all they do is use them a couple times during the day to get up, eat, go to the bathroom or something like that, then absolutely,” Fournier said. “I don’t think a gamer needs to invest time and money into a shoe.”