Esports medicine research is important for a number of reasons, not the least of which is determining the positive and negative impacts of gaming and competition. However, it is also important to investigate motivations and value systems, and esports offers a unique option for insight into these areas.
In this paper, researchers explored the psychological drivers of well-being in esports players, and how these drivers can be understood through the lens of virtual edgework theory. “Edgework” is defined as a process occurring when people voluntarily push boundaries to gain emotional rewards; researchers examined the motivations of esports competitors using this framework. To do this, the researchers conducted a survey with a sample of esports players, measuring constructs such as sensation-seeking, perceived control, self-enhancement, privacy concerns, as well as well-being. The results of the study showed that sensation-seeking had a positive effect on self-enhancement, and that self-enhancement had a positive effect on well-being.
The study also found that perceived control and privacy concerns moderated the relationship between sensation-seeking and self-enhancement, and between self-enhancement and well-being, respectively. These findings suggest that esports participation can have beneficial psychological effects on players, and that these effects are driven by context-specific factors similar to those found in extreme sports. The results of the study also highlight the importance of considering the role of perceived control and privacy concerns in understanding the psychological dynamics of esports players.
One of the key strengths of this study is that it contributes to the growing body of literature on esports by proposing a theoretical framework for understanding the psychological drivers of well-being in esports players. The use of virtual edgework theory allowed the researchers to highlight the similarities between esports and traditional sports, and to identify the specificities of the esports gaming experience. The study also used a multi-method approach, including both survey data and moderated mediation analysis, which allowed for a more comprehensive understanding of the relationships between the different constructs. This framework may therefore be applied to future esports medicine and esports psychology research.
One potential limitation of the study is that it relied on self-reported data from a sample of esports players, which may be subject to biases such as social desirability bias. It would be interesting for future research to replicate the study using other methods, such as experiments or observations, to triangulate the findings. Additionally, the study did not explore the origin of sensation-seeking in esports players, and it would be interesting for future research to investigate whether this motivation stems from psychological traits or motivations. Finally, the study did not address the possibility of a “privacy paradox” in esports players, where individuals may be willing to disclose personal information in exchange for psychologically rewarding sensations. Further research could explore this trade-off and its impact on well-being.
What are the unique considerations coaches or support staff should take away from this study?
The main takeaways for coaches and support staff from this study are:
Raggiotto, Francesco & Scarpi, Daniele. (2022). It’s Not Just a Game: Virtual Edgework and Subjective Well-Being in E-Sports. Journal of Interactive Marketing. 109499682211278. 10.1177/10949968221127897.
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