Health And Esports

lone gamer in dark room

By now, many dozens of studies have examined psychological correlates of and consequences of video gaming, and, taken as a whole, the results overwhelmingly support the idea that video gaming produces many of the same kinds of benefits as other forms of play.

– Peter Gray Ph.D.

By Mike Barnes, based on a memo by Dennis West

The esports industry is huge and shows no sign of stopping. It’s the number one growth industry in the world, major broadcasters like ESPN cover esports as one of their main sporting categories, and even a google search for ‘lol’ is now more likely to result in links to League Of Legends than the classic ‘laugh out loud’ acronym.

As the industry grows it’s vital that esports organisations grow with it, building companies and platforms that focus on minimizing negative health effects and promoting positive effects for health and learning. The WHO recently recognised hazardous gaming as a dangerous pattern of behaviour that can lead to serious physical and mental health issues such as gaming disorder. Although this classification is highly contested by some scientists and experts in the industry, it is clear that it is leading stakeholders around the esports industry to increasingly demand measures such as health care professionals and insurers. Future regulation will also most certainly be launched by political and administrative bodies, requiring them to adopt measures to protect health that are equivalent to other gaming and sports sectors.

Action needs to be taken. There are financial risks for organisations unwilling to adapt and there are huge opportunities to create a proactive and integrated approach to dealing with the issues. Edge Esports is committed to promoting a 3-level approach to tackle this.

Level 1: Adopting measures in the health & safety policy that includes:

  • Health examination for teams as mandatory requirement for participation
  • Inspection of teams and leagues as enforcement
  • Accreditation and training of medical support

Level 2: Building health and learning as an integral part of the product

  • Behaviourally designed product features that balance gaming with other activities
  • Collaborating with physical and mental health experts in product design
  • Creating an “esports ethos” through team and personal learning and development

Level 3: Leading industry collective action

  • Standardization and certification of esports leagues
  • Training and best practice guides for teams
  • Commissioning of on-going research of negative and positive health effects

Level 3 requires huge collective action across the entire industry and Edge Esports cannot do it alone. However, by committing ourselves to building health and learning into our organisation from the onset we aim to be a leader in safe and positive esports. This will not only give eports the legitimacy it deserves in the public eye, it will also increase the volume and flow of brand investments by world renowned companies seeking influencer marketing with good reputations.

At the same time it’s also important to note the positive benefits of gaming. Studies have shown that there are great cognitive, creative, motivational, emotional and social benefits to gaming. These need to promoted just as strongly and are already being championed by programs such as Digital Schoolhouse and Enemy of Boredom. These programs have shown that esports and gaming can help kids build their communication, teamwork, and leadership skills. Sometimes, these programs even get you employed, just ask our summer intern and Digital Schoolhouse student, Daniel Parker!