A recent study at the University of Chichester in England showed that Esports professionals, individuals who play video games competitively, typically in organized multiplayer competitions, were suffering from the same psychological stresses as professional athletes. Some of these stresses included communication problems and concerns with competing in front of live audiences.
Some members of the SUNY Plattsburgh E-Sports club were able to relate to these factors. “Even just playing a live stream with 20 people watching, it increases stress level tremendously. It’s that small amount of added pressure,” Plattsburgh State E-Sports member Nick Putney said.
According to this same study, Esports has become a multimillion dollar industry where competitiveness is at an all-time high. This study has been sparking a lot of controversy because it’s the first of its kind.
“I’m not surprised that this is the first study done of its kind because our generation was always told as children to go outside and be active but things evolve and now kids just want to sit inside holding a controller for hours,” President of SUNY Plattsburgh E-Sports Club Max Tompkins said.
Children are participating in competitive esports games such as the widely known “Fortnite Battle Royal.” Kids are joining professional Fortnite teams and receiving money for their wins. The esports industry will only continue to expand throughout future generations.
According to Science Daily, a website that publishes scientific press releases, professional esports teams are providing their players psychologists to help them cope with the stresses of competing at an elite level. College athletes playing at a NCAA Division 1 school receive advice from team psychologists as well. Some people may think the stresses are extremely different when athletes are performing in a stadium with thousands in attendance while esports players could be by themselves with a virtual audience watching.
Another big difference is the physicality within each.
“You don’t feel physically sore, so why not play for 14 hours a day,” Putney said. “There’s nothing really stopping you from doing that in esports except potentially your mental state deteriorates and you get burned out from playing so much.”
So how do athletes feel about this psychological comparison? Plattsburgh State Women’s Hockey players Hannah Kiraly and Emma Killeen think that a lot of time and dedication to getting better are common among both. Killeen explained communication is one of the most important aspects of their team. The E-Sports club has a similar viewpoint.
“If we don’t win, that’s OK. We reset our minds. We keep it positive. Let’s keep it back on track, and keep it going. That’s how we do things when we suffer with communication,” E-Sports club member Mark Dang said.
“In hockey, you have to have a team culture as well. You have to be with each other all the time and get along with each other or it affects you on the ice,” Kiraly said.
Tompkins also said he encourages club members to get together outside of gaming.
“While the national anthem is going, I’m praying the whole time, and I’m mentally putting negative thoughts I struggle with on the ice, into a box and then I throw it in the air in my head,” Kiraly said.
“I honestly give the box to God and then let it go.”
Members of the E-Sports club try to be reasonable with their stresses as well.
“I put stress on myself, not on other people. It’s more of what did I do wrong versus what everyone else did, because at the end of the day, you can’t fix anyone else. You can only fix yourself and your play,” Tompkins said.