Healthy Gaming - A Growing Trend
Health and Gaming are two words that are very rarely linked together in a positive light. Gaming is widely considered a past-time that promotes an unhealthy lifestyle and, as such, many find it impossible to believe that these two concepts can work in unison to benefit each other. That is, until, the rise of an area of gaming called ‘Esports’.
The term ‘Esports’ refers to competitive gaming but it does not necessarily cover the scale of the movement itself. A concept born in South Korea in the late nineties, the craze of pitting competitive gamers against each other in high-stake tournaments is attracting the attention of millions around the globe, especially over the last 5 years. In 2015, Deloittle published an article outlining the scale of E-sports and its predicted growth over the coming years. They predicted a 25% revenue growth from $400 million to $500 million in 2016, with the belief that by 2019, total revenue will have hit $1 billion dollars. Similarly, Newzoo, an Esports focused market research company, estimated revenues of $700 million in 2017 with a predicted global revenue of $1.5 billion by 2020.
The numbers don’t lie: E-sports is the real deal and is continuing to grow at a breakneck pace. In 2016, there were over 150 million “occasional viewers”. Of these, 75 percent were millennials aged 18-34 - an age group that is notoriously hard to reach through traditional media channels.
Prize pools are also on the rise. Dota 2’s World Championship boasts the biggest prize pool, where teams compete for a share of $25million in stadiums usually reserved for blockbuster sporting and music events. It seems the giants of the E-sports industry are playing their own game of bettering their annual earnings from the previous year, and succeeding.
"Gamers have notoriously carried an image of being overweight and lazy, devoid of sun and still living with their parents; the modern day professional gamer couldn’t be further from that idea."
So how does this link back to our topic of health? As E-sports continues its ascent, so do the players and the teams involved. Brainchild brands born in basements now dominate the E-sports team markets, with company values totalling in the high millions. As these teams evolved from ‘a group of friends who had a knack for games’ to ‘elite teams with high-performance coaches’, so did the industry’s idea of what a “professional gamer” should look like. Gamers have notoriously carried an image of being overweight and lazy, devoid of sun and still living with their parents; the modern day professional gamer couldn’t be further from that idea. Team’s now employ personal trainers, dedicated team chefs, sports psychology coaches and performance coaches to bring conditioning to every aspect of their player’s performance.
The recent explosion of performance conditioning has come from South Korea, where professional gamers live in team houses with their diet, training and daily schedule all meticulously planned. The overwhelming industry opinion is that a healthy body produces a healthy mind, and a healthy mind allows for a professional gamer to play at the top of their spectrum. After all, gaming is primarily a mind sport, most notably for those at the top of their field who make on-the-spot decisions with $25 million on the line.
A recent short documentary, produced by “Omen by HP”, focused on the performance of the “E-sports athlete”, looking at comparisons drawn between traditional sporting athletes and those that compete at the highest level of E-sports. A professional gamer can match the hand-eye co-ordination of a professional table tennis player. It is clear that the mind is the primary tool of a professional gamer and whilst the industry is now taking steps to care for and condition the professional gamer’s body – very little is being done to condition the players’ minds.
"The brain is a professional gamer's most valuable tool"
Some teams are beginning to employ sports psychology coaches to prepare players for the big stage, helping them deal with setbacks and allowing them to grow as players, but it seems they have barely scratched the surface. The next frontier in E-sports is providing tools for players and teams to condition their brain as a means of improving eyesight, decision making, communication and thinking. The brain is a professional gamer's most valuable tool in their arsenal of high-tech equipment: it seems obvious that the next step is to give the players the tools to care for, and enhance, the way their brain performs. This comes with a darker side. As teams begin to realise the importance of brain health, we must be wary of those willing to enhance their performance illegally. This underlines the importance of natural brain health supplements, giving players the opportunity to improve their brain functionality and subsequently increase their overall level of performance.
With the topic of the “healthy gamer” becoming more and more significant (even for casual gamers), the idea of a “healthy brain” will also become a greater point of discussion. Gamers are always looking to take their performance to the next level. It may be that their own brain is the ‘unlock code’.