3 min read

Health - Gamer vs. Non-Gamer (3)

Health - Gamer vs. Non-Gamer (3)
Good day.

In the past two weeks we have seen how gamers differ in terms of well-being, physical activity, as well as mental health compared to the general population (aka non-gamers). One of the questions not answered yet is what causes lower well-being and mental health levels? As you can probably imagine, I read some studies to answer this question for you. 😉 Let’s jump in.

🕊️ The non-competitive Context

When looking at studies in the gaming and Esports domains, it makes sense to distinguish between a competitive (actual Esports) and non-competitive (casual gaming or gaming as a leisure activity, as well as non-gaming) context. In essence, it makes a difference if one looks at progamer or casual gamer for various reasons, such as time spend gaming, level of professionality, and job related factors (progamer).

😰 Mental Health in a non-competitive Context

In the non-competitive context, a study by Altintas and colleagues from 2019 found that sleep is a major driver for general subjective mental health of players. The three major findings of the study are: 1) better sleep quality was related to better mental health, 2) higher intensity of video game playing was associated with lower sleep quality, and 3) the intensity of video game playing has a greater impact on your sleep quality than time spend playing. I really don’t like to break this to you, but…
“[…] high intensity video game playing could conduce to decreased sleep quality and affect mental health. In sum, video game playing could have negative consequences in term of sleep quality and health. (Altintas et al., 2019)”

🥵 Burnout

Burnout is also counted as part of one’s mental health. In a recent study from 2022 by Hong et al., the author found that Korean players’ high intrinsic (one’s inner, inherent) motivation was associated with lower burnout levels, particularly exhaustion and a reduced sense of accomplishment. Interestingly, they also reported…
“[…] that Korean players’ enjoyment of playing games is related to lower levels of player burnout, which should be highlighted as a key aspect of esports being widely played as a leisure activity. (Hong et al., 2022)
Ok, so what’s going on here? One study says that playing video games is bad for you as it reduces the quality of sleep, worsening mental health, and another study saying that playing games is good for you as it prevents you from burnout? This sounds counter intuitive but makes sense. Well, both make sense.

From the field of sleep research we now know that, for instance, what you do before going to bed (e.g. playing a horror game vs. a chill game) makes a huge difference. When adrenaline and similar hormones are running through your system, good sleep might be hard to find.

Burnout, as a different aspect of mental health, may appear when we can’t relax. Casually playing video games (e.g. with friends) may help us relive some stress, and so does other activities.

💡 In my opinion, one should always prioritize good sleep. So cutting back on some LoL, DotA2, CS:GO etc. that have the potential for getting the better of you and your blood boiling probably is a good idea. In addition, playing from time to time with friends or by yourself to release some stress is a-ok. However, if you want to go even further, substituting playing video games for other activities such as going outside, meeting up with friends (IRL), going to the gym and similar activities are better.

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Hope ya'll have a great week.

~Christian 🙂

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