Esports medicine, also known as esports healthcare or esports performance medicine, is a specialized field of healthcare that focuses on the health and well-being of esports players. It encompasses a range of medical and health-related practices aimed at addressing the unique health challenges faced by esports athletes, optimizing their performance, and promoting their overall health and well-being. Esports medicine combines various disciplines, including sports medicine, occupational health, mental health, nutrition, and ergonomics, to provide comprehensive care to esports players and support their physical, mental, and emotional health needs.
Esports, defined as organized competitive digital gaming, has gained immense popularity with millions of viewers and billions of dollars in estimated profit. Despite being recognized as a legitimate career option and even considered as a sport by the International Olympic Committee, there is limited understanding of the health issues faced by esports players. The sedentary nature of esports, with long hours of screen time, presents unique challenges to player health. To address this gap in knowledge, a mixed-methods approach was used in this research study, which included interviews with professional esports players and a survey, to examine the key health issues affecting physical and psychological wellness from the perspective of players.
The present study conducted semi-structured interviews with ten professional esports players, exploring their daily routines, physical health, psychological wellness, and support needs. The findings revealed that daily routine was an important factor in the players’ well-being, with most players following a consistent routine centered around improving and progressing as a professional in esports. However, there were concerns related to inadequate exercise, poor nutrition, irregular sleep schedules, and long hours of practice. Physical health issues, such as musculoskeletal pain and eye strain, were also reported, along with psychological strains, such as stress, anxiety, and burnout. Participants highlighted the importance of support, both from their team and the esports community, in addressing these health issues.
The study also highlighted the challenges faced by female esports players, including the additional stress of having to constantly prove themselves and their legitimacy in a field with fewer female participants. The lack of support from teams and organizations, both physically and emotionally, was also identified as a concern, with family and friends being the main source of support for players. In response to the findings, a theoretical health model was developed, which emphasizes the importance of psychological wellness and support in esports.
In addition to the interviews, a survey was conducted to further explore the psychological and physical health issues reported by esports players. The survey revealed that mental health, including depression and burnout, was identified as the most pressing health concern by a significant number of participants. Other major concerns mentioned by players included obesity and nutrition, exercise, and sleep. The survey also showed that participants practiced for an average of 5.03 hours per day, slept for an average of 7.11 hours per night, and exercised for an average of 1.53 hours per day. Eye fatigue was the most common physical pain reported, followed by wrist pain, back pain, and general fatigue. Participants scored in the middle range of positive well-being and moderate to high perceived stress levels. Self-inflicted pressure was reported as the highest source of overall stress, while family, friends, self, coaches, and teammates were identified as sources of support.
The findings of this esports medicine research study have important implications for health and performance professionals in the esports industry. Some key clinical takeaways include:
In conclusion, esports players face unique health challenges due to the sedentary nature of the sport, long hours of screen time, and high levels of competition. The findings of this research study highlight the importance of prioritizing player health and well-being in the esports industry. Health and performance professionals play a critical role in addressing these health issues by promoting healthy daily routines, addressing mental health concerns, enhancing support systems, educating players on ergonomics and injury prevention, promoting a positive team culture, and encouraging player autonomy and self-care. By prioritizing player health and well-being, the esports industry can create a sustainable and healthy environment for professional players to thrive in their careers.
Source: Madden, Daniel & Harteveld, Casper. (2021). “Constant Pressure of Having to Perform”: Exploring Player Health Concerns in Esports. 1-14. 10.1145/3411764.3445733.
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