“ESPORTS players competing in top-flight tournaments face the equivalent pressure and stress as professional athletes”
Taking on a unique, first of its kind, research project, a team at the University of Chichester in England, analyzed the psychological hurdles which elite esports professionals encounter when they enter major contests. The results which were published in the International Journal of Gaming and Computer-Mediated Simulations, were quite shocking…
The study leads determined that high-ranking: “esports players faced 51 different stress factors — including communication problems and concerns with competing in front of live audiences — mirroring the mental conditions experienced by pro athletes including footballers and rugby stars in high-profile tournaments”.
“We must understand how we can best support the health of our gamers and keep them performing at the top level — just as any other professional athlete”
Moreover, the university’s senior sport and exercise psychology lecturer, Dr Phil Birch, who co-authored the study, remarked: “Esports has become a multimillion-pound business attracting audiences worldwide, but there is little research into the psychological factors that influence players. We have discovered that gamers are exposed to significant stress when competing in top-flight contests”.
To that end, the researchers hope that by separating each stressor, they can be instrumental in helping players create specific coping strategies. This should then empower the players so they can effectively play at top levels, optimise their performance, and positively deal with the stressors they face.
One Major Stressor
One key stressor was the lack of communication between team players, when they were faced with a pressurized environment. The researchers noted that in order to negate this problem: “players either became overly aggressive to one-another or attempted to avoid communication altogether, which negatively impacted their performance”.
The world’s leading esports company, ESL, issued a statement from its Chief Operating Officer, Rob Black, who noted: “As an industry we’ve known for a long time that stressors on top level players can negatively affect their performance. This study proves this and reinforces what we have been saying for years. Further developments are needed in this area, and that will be key in ensuring the number of professional players continues to grow worldwide”
The scientists who undertook the study, suggest that leading esports players receive specific psychological training such as mastering practical coping techniques, in order to deal with the pressures of high level esports .
Rams Singh, who leads the University of Chichester’s newly-launched BA (Hons) esports degree, which analyses the effect of gaming via scientific study; and who was once an esports European champion himself, said: “esports is a developing area, but it is essential that it remains grounded in traditional academia to help us understand immersive gaming and its impact on mind and body”.
As these new e-games are having a profound impact on players around the world, and as interest is skyrocketing, clearly academic courses such as this one, are essentia.