In the past several years, eSports has become one of the biggest media phenomena in the world. In fact, if you count eSports as one large sport, it would be the 4th most viewed sport in the world at this point, barely dragging behind Formula 1.
This new form of skill expression has resulted in some fantastic sporting moments, and has introduced a whole new demographic into the wonderful dynamic of cheering for their favorite teams during the playoffs. Additionally, Universities are starting to have eSports teams for games like League of Legends and some are even giving out scholarships to players who are good enough.
All of this said, eSports aren’t all sunshine and rainbows. There are some negative effects that are critical to keep in mind when you’re thinking about getting into, or getting involved with eSports. Now, eSports are far from the only sport with negative effects, but it’s important to recognize how they affect these new sports.
eSports Are Incredibly Demanding
Unlike traditional sports, there is less of a physical limit on how much players can practice and work on their craft as eSports players. Simply put, you could never effectively practice hockey for more than 8 hours a day, but this is considered standard before big events in professional eSports. Players are expected to essentially commit their entire lives to the exclusive practice of the games.
This extends to anyone who is aspirational toward eSports as well. Rather than needing to keep up with a team and physical fitness, a player looking to join into eSports is looking at hundreds of hours of practice and playing the game to try to prove themselves. This can end up being incredibly disruptive to other parts of life as the player is committed to so much of the game in order to keep up with other players.
As we mentioned above, traditional sports have a stop-gap for this sort of thing. Players can only play for so long before the physical effort is no longer possible. eSports, though mentally taxing, have a much longer play-period before a break is needed. This can even be seen at a competition level, where players will sometimes play 5-6 hours of the same game consecutively in a single match.
eSports Lack Structure Right Now
This is something that will likely be solved over time, but overall, there is a lack of uniformity over the course of an eSports player’s career. In traditional sports there is often a trackable path that someone talented can take to end up at a professional level. It’s clear when they aren’t good enough to make the cut, or that they are doing the right thing.
Partially due to the fact that they are young, eSports don’t have this kind of avenue to success. Part of the reason that this is negative is that it can cause people to obsess with the idea that they are going to make it to a professional level, without any way to truly tell if they are on the right path to make that happen. Players that, in a traditional sport would understand that they are at a hobby level, can end up spending thousands of hours training and trying to get better a pursuit of an opportunity that they already missed, but don’t understand that they missed.
eSports Don’t Promote Health
Allow us to be clear, at the highest level, almost all eSports players pursue physical fitness because it has noticeable effects on mental performance and reaction time, both of which are critical to the game. That said, the actual actions of playing eSports don’t’ involve or technically require physical fitness on the part of the participants. This can have extreme negative effects at the casual level for players. This is compounded by some of the culture around video games. Snack and drink companies are the most likely to promote themselves alongside video games, and players often treat the food they have around a gaming session like snacks at the movies.
This, in itself, would be harmless but when combined with the long hours that eSports demands, it can have truly negative effects on a potential player’s body. Someone working towards being in eSports, or just wanting to get better at a game in order to emulate the professional players, can spend long hours completely sedentary with unhealthy snacks.
Though, as we mentioned, physical fitness is connected to improved performance in eSports, it’s harder to notice the difference between a physically fit player and a non-fit player’s performance at a glance. This means that, especially at the amateur level, players are much less likely to embrace or understand that physical fitness is an important part of what they are supposed to be doing.
Thought this might all seem bad; eSports are far from bad overall and are here to stay. They are a fantastic way of promoting teamwork and work ethic within a traditionally introverted demographic. Additionally, they are more accessible overall than many traditional sports, with players of all backgrounds and body types getting involved in the sports. It’s going to be very interesting to see what eSport does in the coming years, and as long as people keep the negative effects in mind and work to avoid them, it should be a fantastic thing to watch,