Esports in itself isn’t detrimental to health. Still, there are certain practices that can be taught to mitigate most, if not all, damage that overexposure to a computer screen and a sedentary lifestyle entail.
3 Reasons Why Esports Is Better Than Sports
Last month, esports insider Rod “Slasher” Breslau shared his two pence on why esports are in fact superior to sports.
“Esports is better than sports,” he wrote, because:
- No knee injuries
- No CTE injuries
- No refs
Of course, Mr. Breslau was half-joking, but his statement isn’t far from the truth – esports certainly negates some of the traumas and potential injuries that mainstream sporting contests involve.
To say that esports are inherently bad is also a misinterpretation of the facts.
True, they are not usually associated with the ennobling type of competition which tests one’s endurance and will – or so it seems to an outside. There’s the scientific data proving otherwise, though.
While esports players are not necessarily undergoing the exact same form of physical strain, mastering the mental gymnastics necessary to pull off a stellar micro & macro in StarCraft II or take a clean shot in Overwatch is every bit as demanding as being a race-car driver, as you will see read in a bit.
Not everyone is fit for it.
So, when the crowds go wild and people propel themselves off chairs, it’s all well-earned, impressive and it deserves our admiration.
The True Beneficial Effects of Video Gaming and Esports
Perhaps, one of the most pro-gaming arguments comes from cognitive neuroscientist Daphne Bavelier who sought to explain at length the positive effects of playing video games for an average of 5 to 10 hours a week.
It would be wrong to say “gamer brains”, but it would be true, at least based on Ms. Bavelier’s research, to say that people playing up to 10 hours a week can see memory improvement, developing motor skills, analytical thinking and even, hold on to your hats – better eyesight. Games can help you even with driving, Ms. Bavelier argues.
Now, there’s nothing in her TED talk that examines the overindulgence or the lifesyle of an esports player, with its prolonged exposure to screen time.
We’ve Had a Definitive Proof Since 2016
Many football teams in the Bundesliga can use these positive effects of esports to prepare players mentally, tactically, and for fast decision making and reaction for the real game.
In 2016, Deutsche Welle, a respected German media outlet, published an article based on a study conducted by German Sports University scientists.
Professor Ingo Froböse, the head of the research, had taken five years collating data and studying the segment, starting as early as 2011, before esports even became the phenomenon they are today.
Professor Froböse and his team established a number of interesting factors that prove that esports are in fact (like) a real sport. Circling back to the subject at hand, i.e. health, and the benefits of the segment, the professor had the following to say, cited by Deutsche Welle:
“Many football teams in the Bundesliga can use these positive effects of esports to prepare players mentally, tactically, and for fast decision making and reaction for the real game. It is just a matter of balancing playing times and pauses, having an adequate training, diet, and resting time. “
Your Will Be Running a Marathon Playing Esports
Since the main argument against esports is that they are not a real sport, it feels appropriate to cite another finding by Froböse and his team:
“The amount of cortisol produced is about the same level as that of a race-car driver. This is combined with a high pulse, sometimes as high as 160 to 180 beats per minute, which is equivalent to what happened during a very fast run, almost a marathon.”
There’s also a side dish of motor skills involved that makes, in Froböse’s opinion, esports just as demanding as any other form of esports competition.
The parallel between race-car drivers and esports is an interesting interjection, especially given the fact that virtual car racer Enzo Bonito defeated former Formula E champion Luca Di Grassi.
From Mental to Physical Fitness
The year is not 2016 and many organizations have become cognizant of the importance of nurturing body and soul. In his research, Froböse talks about the link between strengthening the support system in the shoulder and neck areas and general improvement in motor skills.
Esports.com captured a moment from the training session of Astralis, the Danish team that has conquered the world of Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) with apparent effortlessness.
The high-demanding nature of esports and a common misconstruction of the activity as not a “real sport” has led generations of gamers to practise the old-fashioned way – spending thousands of hours playing with little breaks.
In light of the new evidence, esports are closer to mainstream in concrete terms and taking proper care of athletes is not just a luxurious, unnecessary expenditure. It’s becoming the norm.
The Downsides of Esports – Mostly a Sedentary Lifestyle
Esports do perhaps have their drawbacks. Spending so much time seated and actively training applies stress, as Froböse has established. And yet, it seems unlikely to raise this argument against esports and not really raise it against the millions of office workers.
Sitting for over 6 hours a day without breaks for two consecutive weeks, Deutsche Welle writes, means that your muscle will start to degenerate, slowing down the blood flow to the heart and also leading to an increased number of bad cholesterol and weight gain.
Even if these risks exist, an esports player seems more at liberty of controlling their training sessions, altering between game time, exercise, rest and any other form of mildly stimulating physical activity.
As it turns out, esports doesn’t entail knee injuries.
There are some other dangers lurking, but the good news is – it can all be sorted out with a healthy training regime.