Addressing gaps in esports Health and Wellness is not the only way to promote safe and sustainable practices in esports. While esports medicine is important “Safety” must also encompass financial, mental health, and social considerations, for esports athletes, team personnel, and esports medicine professionals.
The article discusses the growth of esports, including its professionalization, the increase in tournaments and viewership, and the career opportunities it presents for players and other professionals. However, there are also potential threats and challenges associated with esports, such as physical health issues, mental health concerns, exposure to inappropriate content, and gambling. The article provides suggestions for addressing these issues, including providing education and counseling on healthy lifestyle habits, developing measures for early detection and intervention for addictive behaviors, regulating gambling-like elements in video games, supporting women in esports, and committing to ethical gaming. The article emphasizes the importance of acknowledging and mitigating the risks associated with esports, especially for minors and young players, and involving stakeholders from different fields to work together towards a safer and healthier esports industry.
Playing videogames for extended periods can have several negative effects on players’ health and lifestyle due to the sedentary nature of videogame playing and lower levels of physical activity. Esports health issues include wrist, neck, and elbow pain, weakness or numbness in the hands, tendinopathy, skin blisters, calluses, and blood clots. Additionally, players are at risk of developing unhealthy eating habits, obesity, and sleep disorders. Stimulant use to enhance performance, including caffeine, energy drinks, and prescription drugs, may also have harmful effects.
Researchers emphasized the importance of providing players with reliable information on the potential negative consequences and prevention measures for such harms, especially for minors. They suggest that the esports industry should engage in corporate social responsibility activities to promote healthier and balanced lifestyles to players. In terms of mental health issues, playing videogames can turn into an addiction, which might impact a significant proportion of gamers, as discussed here. The section emphasizes the need for specialist support services for mental health for gamers and the importance of providing information on self-help or professional help for players within games and during esports events. It also discusses the need for early detection of problematic or addictive use patterns and relevant measures that could be provided by the industry and esports clubs.
The esports industry is growing rapidly, but stakeholders must prioritize harm minimization measures for esports athletes, spectators, and gamblers. Policymakers, gaming regulators, esports organizations, healthcare providers, researchers, and parents/guardians of minors should work together to address risks such as cheating, match-fixing, sexism, and trolling. The esports industry should be responsible for protecting consumers, providing information, supporting access to health services, financially supporting education and prevention programs, and cooperating with researchers to detect early signs of problem gaming or addictive patterns. National and international policies should guide the work of esports federations, and more research is needed to understand protective and risk factors for gaming-related health issues and develop effective harm prevention and intervention.
Health and performance professionals can take away several key points from this article:
Czakó, A., Király, O., Koncz, P., Yu, S. M., Mangat, H. S., Glynn, J. A., Romero, P., Griffiths, M. D., Rumpf, H., & Demetrovics, Z. (2023). Safer esports for players, spectators, and bettors: Issues, challenges, and policy recommendations, Journal of Behavioral Addictions (published online ahead of print 2023). doi: https://doi.org/10.1556/2006.2023.00012
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