Given the significant degree of cognitive skill and emotional regulation involved, esports performance is heavily impacted by psychological states. Esports Psychology research can also reveal valuable information about the motivations of spectators as well as players.
This systematic esports medicine literature review discusses the growing phenomenon of esports and the limited research that has been conducted on the psychology of esports. Esports have gained significant popularity in recent years, with a global audience of 385 million and an esport economy that grew 41.3% to reach $696 million in 2017. The literature on the psychology of esports has focused on three main topics: (1) the process of becoming an esports player, (2) the characteristics of esports players, and (3) the motivations of esports spectators.
Studies on becoming an esports player have explored the elements that make a career in esports attractive to players and have examined the transformation of identity that players go through as they become professionalized gamers. These studies suggest that becoming a professional esports player is similar to the process of becoming a professional athlete in traditional sports, in terms of the requirements and practices such as training, practice, skill acquisition, and dedication to the ‘job’. However, some scholars have argued that considering esports as a sport and gaming as a form of work may have negative impacts on individuals and society.
Studies on the characteristics of esports players have looked at various mental skills and motivational patterns among esports players, as well as differences between esports players and casual gamers. These studies have found that esports players tend to have high levels of motivation, determination, and focus, as well as good problem-solving skills and spatial awareness. They also tend to have a growth mindset, viewing challenges and failures as opportunities for learning and improvement. There are also some differences between esports players and casual gamers in terms of their motivations for playing, with esports players being more driven by competition and achievement and casual gamers being more motivated by relaxation and enjoyment.
Studies on the motivations of esports spectators have investigated why individuals watch esports and the factors that contribute to their satisfaction as spectators. These studies have found that esports viewers are motivated by factors such as the drama and excitement of the matches, the enjoyment of game commentary and skills displayed by the players, and their attachment to teams. Factors such as novelty and acquiring knowledge also influence the frequency of esports viewing, while aesthetics and aggression do not have a significant impact.
Overall, the research on the psychology of esports suggests that esports involve complex and varied psychological processes and motivations, and that further research is needed in this area. These studies provide insight into the motivations and characteristics of esports players and spectators, and highlight the similarities and differences between esports and traditional sports.
Based on the research reviewed in the text provided, there are several unique considerations that coaches or support staff working in esports should take away from this study:
Bányai F, Griffiths MD, Király O, Demetrovics Z. The Psychology of Esports: A Systematic Literature Review. J Gambl Stud. 2019 Jun;35(2):351-365. doi: 10.1007/s10899-018-9763-1. PMID: 29508260.
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