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The Rise of eSports: Insights Into the Perceived Benefits and Risks for College Students


Abstract and Figures

The availability and affordability of increased Internet bandwidth, video memory, and processing speed has enabled Electronic sports (eSports) to become a flourishing global sensation and college students are helping to drive this phenomenon. This mixed-methods study focuses on feedback from 159 college students regarding the eSports phenomenon across both gender and educational classification. Findings from the study include their eSports-related gaming and spending habits, and perceptions of personal and academic benefits of playing eSports such as social interaction, teamwork, and critical thinking skills. Included are the perceived risks of playing eSports that encompassed eSports gaming addiction, mental, social, emotional risks, lack of physical activity, and physical disorders associated with playing eSports.
DOI: 10.4018/IJER.20210101.oa5
International Journal of eSports Research
Volume 1 • Issue 1 • January-June 2021
This article published as an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License
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provided the author of the original work and original publication source are properly credited.
The Rise of eSports:
Insights Into the Perceived Benets
and Risks for College Students
Julie A. Delello, The University of Texas at Tyler, USA
Rochell R. McWhorter, The University of Texas at Tyler, USA
Paul Roberts, The University of Texas at Tyler, USA
Hunter S. Dockery, The University of Texas at Tyler, USA
Tonia De Giuseppe, The University of Salerno, Italy
Felice Corona, The University of Salerno, Italy
The availability and affordability of increased internet bandwidth, video memory, and processing
speed has enabled electronic sports (eSports) to become a flourishing global sensation, and college
students are helping to drive this phenomenon. This mixed-methods study focuses on feedback
from 159 college students regarding the eSports phenomenon across both gender and educational
classification. Findings from the study include their eSports-related gaming and spending habits and
perceptions of personal and academic benefits of playing eSports such as social interaction, teamwork,
and critical thinking skills. Included are the perceived risks of playing eSports that encompassed
eSports gaming addiction; mental, social, emotional risks; lack of physical activity; and physical
disorders associated with playing eSports.
The global electronic sports (eSports) market is predicted to reach 1.79 billion U.S. dollars in 2022.
For comparison, the 2018 League of Legends World Championship match attracted 99.6 million
unique viewers (Gough, 2019) while Super Bowl LIII drew in 98.2 million. Additionally, in 2022,
eSports will become an Olympic game (Graham, 2017). Not only are there millions of viewers and
eSports players globally, there are hundreds of colleges and universities who are members of the
National Association of Collegiate eSports (NACE, 2020) in the United States. In fact, eSports are
one of the fastest growing sports on college campuses as students are both spectators as well as
players. According to McGrath (2019), eSports has been a burgeoning “phenomenon over the past
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decade with about 1600 eSports clubs across 600 universities, and experts predict these numbers will
continue to rise…[and expand] into elementary, middle, and high schools across the nation” (p. 201).
It is essential for universities to remain competitive in the higher education market space. As the
popularity of eSports continues to grow, having a thriving eSports presence will also be advantageous
for student learning. At the October 2019 Educause conference, McKenzie (2019) remarked that “this
is not just about gaming...engaging students in esports can help them build critical thinking skills,
encourage teamwork and innovation, and promote self-direct learning” (para. 3). Also, educators
are reviewing eSports as a way of recruiting students through competitive video gaming and has
become a high priority for higher education administrators leveraging eSports in recruiting efforts
(Zalaznick, 2019).
To this end, this article provides insights from college-aged students regarding their eSports
habits. Specifically, the research team considered student demographics, types of games watched
or played, the amount of time played, grade point averages, risks, and the personal and academic
benefits to playing such games.
Historically, before the 1960s, electronic games were primarily used for demonstration as computers
were large and too expensive for the common household (Monnens & Goldberg, 2015). By the late
seventies and eighties, arcade games utilizing an electronic board, included such popular games as
Space Invaders (released in 1979), Pac-Man (in 1980) and Defender (in 1981). These arcade games
helped create a culture that defined a generation “where kids and teenagers could hang out, and, with
a reasonable amount of money, spend hours without their parents” (June, 2013, para. 18). And, one
of the first-generation gaming consoles was Atari, which allowed individuals to play games like Pong
(1975), a type of virtual “ping-pong” on their home television sets (June, 2013).
The combination of eSports and gaming competitions within higher education is not new.
However, it was not until the early 1970’s that video game competitions started to grow. For example,
the Space InvadersChampionship, cited as the first “Intergalactic spacewar Olympics” (Brand, 1972,
para. 1), was held in 1972 at Stanford University. Twenty-four players participated for the prize of a
subscription to the Rolling Stones’ magazine. Brand declared that the computer engineers involved
in creating the game were “magnificent men with their flying machines, scouting a leading edge of
technology” (para. 49). Other companies followed suit. For example, Nintendo hosted the first World
Championships, a large eSports tournament, played on a Nintendo Entertainment System using a
special gaming cartridge (Cifaldi, 2015).
ESports progressed with the establishment of the internet as competitive gaming became
increasingly accessible in households and across college campuses (Marsh, 2020). In fact, Bickman
et al. (2021) noted that eSports “represents a growing market while a large number of people invest
considerable time playing video games” (p. 1). And, the option of multiplayer video games played over
the internet has boosted such competitive gaming (Scholz, 2019). Some of the more recent competitive
eSports games include Overwatch and Call of Duty, first-person shooter (FPS) games (Farrell, 2021);
League of Legends and Dota II, multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) games; Fortnite, a free-to-
play battle royale game; sporting games such as Madden, FIFA, and Rocket League; card games like
Hearthstone, and real-time strategy (RTS) games like Starcraft II (Petrullo, n.d.). Additionally, the
ability to live-stream games across internet platforms such as YouTube and Twitch have heightened
the popularity of eSports events (Popper, 2013) with companies now distributing millions in prize
money and attracting large numbers of both players and spectators.
Defining eSports
The word eSports has numerous spellings and definitions. For example, according to Winer (2019),
“Depending on the source, country, and context, it might be written any of the following ways:
esports, eSports, Esports, ESports, E-Sports, e-sport, Cybersport, Virtualsports, and more” (para.
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1). Questions also arise as to whether eSports should be described as a sport, a competitive video
game, or some combination of the two.
The Oxford English Dictionary defined a sport as “an activity involving physical exertion and
skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment” (para. 1).
Similarly, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) (2019) noted “a sport shall be defined
as an institutional activity involving physical exertion with the purpose of competition versus other
teams or individuals within a collegiate competition structure” (para. 6). Yet, governing bodies like
the NCAA have so far failed to recognize eSports as a true competitive sport (Kane & Spradley, 2019).
For others, the definition of an electronic sport or eSport is complex, encompassing sports,
culture, technology, and business (Jin, 2010). For example, Hamari and Sjöblom (2017) defined
eSports as “a form of sports where the primary aspects of the sport are facilitated by electronic
systems; the input of players and teams as well as the output of the eSports system are mediated
by human-computer interfaces” (p. 211). Many other researchers have simply described eSports as
competitive and/or organized video game play (see Table 1). In fact, according to Engerman and
Hein (2017), “The eSports community has advanced in noticeable ways and represents the highest
form of online competitive play for digital gaming environments” (p. 62). For the purposes of this
paper, the researchers define eSports as a computer-mediated form of competitive gaming within a
multiplayer environment.
With the development of the internet, video games, once played in front of the television sets on home
consoles, have expanded to personal computing devices. And, such video game play has become
ubiquitous among young adults in the United States. For example, a 2017 study completed by Pew
Research revealed that 72% of male and 49% of female young adults, ages 18 to 29, played video
games on a computer, game console, or cellphone (Perrin, 2017). In terms of gender and gaming,
Hartmann and Klimmt (2006) indicated that adult men (18-26 years old) preferred playing active
and competitive games compared to women who favored skill-based games and those that include
social interactions.
According to a Washington Post and UMass Lowell Center for Public Opinion poll, competitive
eSports are just as popular as professional football among young adults aged 14‐21 (Dyck & Talty,
2017). Forty-seven percent of young adults reported playing games almost every day or every day
while 66% played several times per week. Additionally, eighty percent reported they played for
entertainment and fun and 54% noted playing to spend time with friends. Additionally, Dyck and
Talty (2017) found that almost three-quarters of young adults either play or watch multiplayer online
games or competitions. Crawford et al. (2019) suggested that video gaming is becoming “an example
of a wider social process whereby social reality is increasingly being encountered (and sold) as a set
of designed and curated experiences” (p. 941). And, with Covid-19 concerns like social distancing for
traditional sports during uncertain times, eSports has become a popular alternative for many sports
enthusiasts (O’shea & Duffy, 2020).
Over the years, the popular press has not always reported favorable outcomes related to game playing.
In fact, psychological research has suggested that gaming has led to an increase in addiction, aggression,
and even violence (Anderson et al., 2010). For example, Bányai et al. (2019) reported that playing
eSports may be linked to addictive gaming disorders. Relatedly, the American Psychiatric Association
(2013) listed Internet Gaming Disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders
(DSM-5) as a component for future research. Maci and Amari (2019) reported that as eSports have
continued to grow, gambling activities such as betting, skin lotteries, and loot box openings are on
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the rise with many of these involving actual exchanges of “real” currencies. For many gamers, the
cosmetic look of their weapons and accessories (skins) are vital to making an impression upon other
competitors. And, these skins may cost the player hundreds to thousands of dollars (CS:GOPedia,
2021). Wohn (2014) reported that social factors played a role in the amount that gamers spent; more
friends correlated to more money spent on such cosmetic items.
Despite the negative portrayal of video games, researchers have also reported benefits. For
example, in a study by Riedel (2016), video gaming habits of students were examined in relationship
to their grade point average. Results of the study implied that video game play had little to no effect
on the academic performance of students. Furthermore, Adachi and Willoughby (2013), suggested
strategic video game play improves problem-solving skills over time, leading to better academic
grades. Students may also learn leadership and hard and soft skills like: attitude, communication,
teamwork, collaboration, creative thinking, work ethic, time management, motivation, flexibility, and
conflict resolution (Andrade, 2020) in addition to patience and resilience. A meta-analysis of 111
video game–related studies indicated that students who played first and/or third person shooter games
may have an increase in their top-down attention domain and spatial cognition (Bediou al., 2018).
Table 1. Selected eSports Definitions by Year
Year Definition Citation
2005 “Alternative sport realities, that is, to electronically extended athletes
in digitally represented sporting worlds” (p. 199)
Hemphill (2005)
2006 “Playing competitive games according to generally accepted rules of
leagues and tournaments on the Internet” (p. 572).
Weiss (2006) cited in Cranmer et
al. (2021)
2006 “An area of sport activities in which people develop and train mental
or physical abilities in the use of information and communication
technologies” (p. 438).
Wagner (2006)
2007 “A sport of wisdom between people with hi-tech software and
hardware as sports equipment” (p. 57)
Zang, Wu, and Li (2007)
2010 “A computer game played in professional competitions, especially
when it is watched by fans and broadcast on the Internet or on
Television” (p. 33).
Jin (2010)
2012 “An organised and competitive approach to playing computer games”
(p. 350).
Witkowski (2012) cited in
Cranmer et al. (2021)
2013 “An umbrella term used to describe organized, sanctioned video game
competitions, most often in the context of video game tournaments”
(p. 352).
Whalen (2013) cited in Bányai et
al., (2019).
2013 “Competitive computer gaming” (p. 5) Seo (2013) cited in Cranmer et
al. (2021)
2016 “Organized video game competitions” (p. 35) Jenny et al. (2016)
2016 “The enactment of video games as spectator-driven sport, carried
out through promotional activities; broadcasting infrastructures; the
socioeconomic organization of teams, tournaments, and leagues; and
the embodied performances of players themselves” (p. 41).
Taylor (2016)
2017 “a form of sports where the primary aspects of the sport are facilitated
by electronic systems; the input of players and teams as well as
the output of the eSports system are mediated by human-computer
interfaces” (p. 213)
Hamari & Sjöblom (2017)
2021 “eSports is the direct competition between human players using
suitable video and computer games on various devices and on digital
platforms under defined rules” (p. 2).
Block, S., & Haack, F. (2021)
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In terms of student success, a collegiate eSports team may raise student enrollment (McAllister,
2018), increase attendance rates and overall grade point averages (GPAs) (Kobek, 2019), improve
student retention (Turner, et al., 2018), improve social-emotional learning (World Economic Forum,
2016), teach college readiness skills (Common Sense Education, 2020), attract disengaged students
including underrepresented students, encourage co-ed play (Anykey, 2019), and increase science,
technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) opportunities (NASEF, 2020). Another advantage
for adding eSports to a university campus is the exposure students receive to cutting-edge technologies
such as augmented and virtual reality, hype wall displays, live streaming, 3D physics engines, high-
tech computers and opportunities to learn about game design and visualization. Furthermore, students
can be part of the marketing design for the team. All of which may open pathways for future careers,
setting students up for success after college.
According to Turner et al. (2018), “Leveraging the use of technology, specifically digital games,
increases student retention and decreases the attrition rate resulting in increased graduation rates”
(p. 13). In terms of recruitment, when Ashland University announced its eSports program on Good
Morning America, approximately 500 interested students’ submitted applications to the university
(see McAllister, 2018, para. 4). Currently, fifteen states recognize eSports as a high school varsity
sport and this trend is expected to rise dramatically in the next two years. ESports was recognized
by 28 universities in the United States (Lamb, 2017) and by 2018, the number was 128 institutions
(Morrison, 2018). At some campuses, eSports are part of intramural events, student athletics, campus
clubs, varsity teams, or even integrated into degrees. For example, at campuses such as The University
of Texas at Arlington, students compete for a share of a $10,000 scholarship (Case, 2019) and may
earn a degree in eSports (Burton, 2019). UC Irvine offers ten academic scholarships (eCampus News,
2016) while Caldwell University (2019) offers a Bachelor of Science degree in eSports Management
to ready students for finance, marketing, gaming, and other industries. Forward-thinking schools
which create eSports programs may also draw sponsorships. For instance, a professional League of
Legends league has drawn sponsorships from brands such as Geico, State Farm, Nissan and Coca-
Cola, distributing more than six million U. S. dollars in total prize money and attracting nearly 100
million viewers (Goslin, 2018).
The framework of self-determination theory (SDT), an existing theory of human motivation, guided
this study. Deci and Ryan (2000) suggested that SDT is based on the fulfillment of psychological needs
as being the principal motivator for one’s behavior. SDT is based upon the relationship between both
extrinsic and intrinsic motivations and characterizes three basic psychological needs that promote
motivation: autonomy, competence, and relatedness (Deci & Ryan, 2000). Autonomy is the need to
feel a sense of self control; relatedness is one’s interaction with others, and the third need is the feeling
of competence when participating in an activity. SDT has been utilized in recent publications on
gaming (i.e. Hulaj et al., 2020; Ozenc, 2020) and is seemingly an appropriate theoretical framework
for understanding the motivations of gamers to play eSports. In fact, recent research has shown that
the basic innate psychological needs of relatedness, motivation, and satisfaction may be met through
participating in eSports activities (Qian, et al., 2020).
There is currently a dearth of research on eSports since there was some opposition to gaming
on campuses previously. However, “much of the resistance in bringing eSports teams to education is
due to the lack of awareness and understanding of how a video game competition can foster the skills
desired in tomorrow¢s society” (Rothwell & Shaffer, 2019, section 8). Reitman et al. (2020) reviewed
available published literature and noted that “eSports research has developed from nonexistent to a
field of study spread across seven academic disciplines” (p. 1) including business, sports science,
cognitive science, informatics, law, media studies, and sociology and is not confined to only a few
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localities but reported that the internationality of eSports is now a reality. Further, Lokhman et al.
(2018) argued that eSports is a current phenomenon that deserves more empirical work.
The purpose of this study was to consider the overall eSports habits of college students.
Specifically, the personal and academic benefits and the risks of playing eSports was examined. The
research questions included:
RQ1. What are the personal benefits for college students playing eSports?
RQ2. What are the academic benefits for college students playing eSports?
RQ3. What are the risks associated with college students playing eSports?
This mixed-methods study used a convergent design to integrate both quantitative and qualitative data
into a single investigation (Wisdom & Creswell, 2013). Closed-ended and open-ended questions were
gathered on the same survey to better understand the college students’ attraction to playing eSports
using an anonymous, online Qualtrics ( survey, which contained nineteen questions.
Of these, demographic questions such as age, gender, ethnicity, college classification, major, type of
university, and whether students had an eSports program and/or scholarships accounted for seven of
the survey questions. The survey also included nine multiple choice and three open-ended questions
aimed at gauging students’ experiences and perceptions of the benefits and risks to playing eSports.
The study’s target population was college students who were over the age of 18. An invitation to
participate was posted within online communities such as eSports social media groups (e.g. Twitter,
Facebook) and sent to college eSports listservs using an approved university Institutional Review
Board (IRB) script and survey link. Although the initial recruitment occurred through a convenience
sample utilizing social media and listserv postings, the research also used snowball sampling as those
who viewed the posting were encouraged to share it with other college students allowing the research
team to reach a more heterogenous sample of participants.
One hundred fifty-nine students (71 male/88 female) from the United States participated in this study.
Of those, 103 (65%) were Caucasian, 24 (15%) were Hispanic, 15 (9%) were Black, 13 (8%) were
Asian or Pacific Islander, 2 (1%) were Native American, and 2 (1%) reported other. The responses
indicated that 135 (85%) of the students attended a public four-year university, 16 (10%) attended a
private four-year university, 6 (4%) attended a public two-year university, 1 (1%) attended a private
two-year university, and one (1%) reported other. Forty-eight (30%) of the students were in graduate
school; 38 (24%) were undergraduate seniors, 36 (23%) were juniors, 17 (11%) were sophomores,
and 20 (13%) were freshman. Students represented a variety of majors such as human resource
development, education, psychology, criminal justice to undecided. Most of the students (101/64%)
were unsure if their college had an eSports program on campus. Forty (25%) of the students reported
having an eSports program on their campus and 18 (11%) noted they did not. Interestingly, only 10
(6%) of the students stated their campuses had scholarships available for eSports whereas 37 (23%)
reported no and 112 (70%) of the students were unsure.
Analysis of the Data
For purposes of this study, the analyses were focused on examining both the benefits and risks to
college students who play eSports. The data analysis proceeded in two directions: statistical analyses
and an additional exploration of the qualitative responses. Quantitative data analysis was completed
using Qualtrics Stats IQ and Excel. The data were analyzed using descriptive statistics to examine
differences in students’ eSports habits and the potential benefits and risks playing such games might
have on academics across gender and education classification. Descriptive statistics can be used
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to show a visual of the data and describe the central tendencies (McEvoy, 2018). An Analysis of
Variance (ANOVA) was used to test for an overall relationship between two variables to see if one
group tended to have higher values than another. When determining whether measurements from
smaller sampled groups were independent, the data analysis required nonparametric chi-squared (χ2
test) and Fisher’s exact tests. Furthermore, an ordinary least squares (OLS) regression was utilized
to investigate the relationships among additional variables of interest.
For analyzing the opened-ended comments collected in the survey, one of the members of the
research team created typed transcripts in Qualtrics through the data formatting feature. Subsequently,
three open-ended questions in the survey were systematically and independently analyzed by two of
the researchers on the team by first separately reviewing the transcript and developing an initial list
of themes (Merriam & Tisdell, 2016); then, the researchers created a coding document and met until
they achieved intercoder agreement (MacQueen et al., 1998, p. 35). Also, a third researcher on the
team who was experienced in eSports reviewed the coding document for “peer examination” (see
Merriam & Tisdell, 2016, p. 249) to enhance the confidence in the findings of the study.
Esports Related Habits
In our initial study of 159 US students, 54.7% reported playing eSports; 45.3% did not. Greater
percentages of male (84.5%) than female (30.7%) reported that they watched, played, or competed in
eSports resulting in a strong statistically significant relationship X2 (1, N = 159) = 45.9, p = .00001,
chi-square test). Additionally, the data also supports a difference between the year of study (education
classification) students were in and whether they watched, played, or competed in eSports (P=.00466,
Fisher’s exact test). In terms of classification, graduate students (33%) watched, played, or competed
more than other classifications (seniors, 23%; sophomores, 13%; juniors, 13%; freshman, 18%). In a
typical day, students also stated they watched an average of 3.64 hours per day, played an average of
3.71 hours and competed just 1.05 hours per day. Males reported watching (M=2.89), playing (M=
3.86), and competing (M= 1.33) hours per day. Interestingly, females reported watching eSports more
than males (M=5.09) but playing (M=3.41) and competing less (.51). Freshman reported playing an
average of six hours a day (M=6.33), followed by juniors (M=4.13), sophomores (M=3.44), graduate
students (M=3.38), and seniors (M=2.13). And, when students were asked what they watched, played,
or competed in, they listed a broad range of games (see Table 2). Most students watched (14.36%)
League of Legends (10.38%), played League of Legends or Overwatch (10.38%), and/or competed
in Overwatch (20.69%) tournaments.
When students were asked whether watching, playing, or competing in eSports took time away
from other activities they were engaged in, a ranked ANOVA was used due to the small sample size.
No significant association was found for Completing Homework for School, Watching Television,
or Writing, Socializing (In Person) With Friends and Family, or Social Networking, Emailing, or
Internet Based Communication. One student noted that eSports interfered with “arriving on time
when I have a meeting.” Overall, students perceived that eSports did not take time away from their
other activities. (See Table 3).
Additionally, when students were asked if they used real-world money to purchase game items,
most students reported spending money on cosmetic items (18.2%) and loot boxes (17.6%). However,
17.6% reported not spending any actual money on gaming. When analyzed by education classification,
graduate students reported spending more on betting (80%), functional items (39.29%), and tournament
fees (33.33%). In fact, graduate students reported spending money on tournaments ($400), cosmetic
items ($4000), and on game betting ($1200) while seniors spent more money on upgrades and coins
(40%); sophomores spent more on other items (50%), and freshman spent more on upgrades (40%).
One freshman student reported, “I do not wish to know how much I have wasted” while another stated
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Table 2. Games Students Watched, Played, or Competed In
Question Watch *N Play *N Compete *N
League of Legends 14.36% 28 10.38% 19 6.90% 2
Defense of the Ancients/DOTA 1.03% 2 1.09% 2 3.45% 1
Smite, Battleground of the Gods 1.03% 2 1.64% 3 6.90% 2
Multiplayer FPS
Overwatch 10.77% 21 10.38% 19 20.69% 6
Counterstrike 5.64% 11 2.73% 5 6.90% 2
Call of Duty 7.18% 14 9.29% 17 3.45% 1
Paladins: Champions of the Realm 0.51% 1 0.55% 1 3.45% 1
Battle Royal
Fortnite 5.13% 10 9.84% 18 6.90% 2
Apex Legends 7.18% 14 7.65% 14 3.45% 1
PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds 3.59% 7 2.73% 5 0.00% 0
Sports Games
FIFA 2.56% 5 3.28% 6 0.00% 0
NBA 2k 2.05% 4 3.83% 7 0.00% 0
Madden 2.56% 5 2.73% 5 0.00% 0
Rocket League 4.62% 9 4.92% 9 3.45% 1
Tactical Shooter
Rainbow Six Siege 6.15% 12 8.20% 15 10.34% 3
World of Warcraft 3.59% 7 2.19% 4 0.00% 0
RuneScape 1.03% 2 1.64% 3 3.45% 1
Card Game
Hearthstone 3.59% 7 1.64% 3 3.45% 1
Real Time Strategy (RTS)
Starcraft II 2.56% 5 1.09% 2 6.90% 2
Fighting Game
Super Smash Bros. 9.23% 18 8.20% 15 3.45% 1
Street Fighter 2.56% 5 1.09% 2 0.00% 0
Mortal Kombat 1.54% 3 3.28% 6 3.45% 1
Other 1.54% 3 1.64% 3 3.45% 1
Total Total 195 Total 183 Total 29
*N=number of participants included in the data analysis
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spending “at least $1000 across 11 years of eSports.” Also, men tended to spend greater percentages
of money than women on all items (see Table 4).
Personal Benefits of Playing eSports
When examining the responses to the question, “Do you see any personal benefits to playing eSports?”,
92 (71.3%) of the students reported “yes” while only 37 (28.7%) individuals reported perceiving no
benefit. However, perceiving the presence of benefits did differ significantly between genders (p=
0.00001, Fisher’s exact test) but not college classification. Significantly more males (94.34%) than
females (55%) reported personal benefits to playing eSports.
The top five themes that emerged from the data are included in Table 5. The most cited response
was related to spending time with friends and social interactions. This response is counter to the gamer
stereotype of an isolated individual spending hours alone in their parent’s basement living on soda
and junk food, and never going outside for physical activity (PaaBen et al., 2017) and best illustrated
in the following survey response: “All of the associated benefits of comradery from physical sports,
community building, and interpersonal relationships that may form from the experience.”
Video games have increasingly moved from single player experiences to multiplayer games
where teams of four to six (or more) compete. Teamwork was the second most frequently identified
benefit. Most students only said “Teamwork” or “Teambuilding”; however, the following response
elaborates on that point: “…I believe that eSports is perfect, and it really teaches team members
how to communicate and work with one another.” The following quote is an example of the theme
Table 3. Does Watching, Playing, or Competing in eSports Take Time from Other Activities?
Other Activities Total Percent
Yes (Completing my homework for school) 32.8%
No (Completing my homework for school) 58.2%
Unsure (Completing my homework for school) 9.0%
Yes (Watching TV/videos) 38.8%
No (Watching TV/videos) 59.7%
Unsure (Watching TV/videos) 1.5%
Yes (Writing) 20.9%
No (Writing) 73.1%
Unsure (Writing) 6.0%
Yes (Socializing in person with friends or family) 22.4%
No (Socializing in person with friends or family) 71.6%
Unsure (Socializing in person with friends or family) 6.0%
Yes (Social networking, email, or other internet-based communication) 20.9%
No (Social networking, email, or other internet-based communication) 76.1%
Unsure (Social networking, email, or other internet-based communication) 3.0%
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Critical Thinking/Problem Solving: “Increases cognitive abilities such as reaction time and quick
problem analysis/solving.
Society now places a great value on Entertainment and as such it is not surprising that it makes
this list. For example, a student wrote: “I think eSports is like another part of the entertainment
industry.” Finally, Relaxing, Disconnecting and Stress Management were also frequently cited personal
benefits of playing eSports. The following quote illustrated this benefit: “I lead a stressful life and
playing games is a great stress buster. It has also helped me [in] becoming more focused.” Other cited
personal benefits of playing eSports (after the Top 5) included: Communication, competition, hand/
eye coordination, time management, and money.
Table 4. Esports Spending Habits of Students
Percentage of
Money Spent
Male/Fem Freshman Sophomore Junior Senior Graduate
Betting on games/
3.1% 4.2%/2.3% 20.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 80.00%
Coins 6.3% 12.7%/1.7% 10.00% 10.00% 20.00% 40.00% 20.00%
Cosmetic items
(Attire, Skins)
18.2% 32.4%/6.8% 20.69% 6.90% 17.24% 31.03% 24.14%
Functional items
3.8% 8.5%/0% 0.00% 16.67% 16.67% 16.67% 50.00%
Have not
17.6% 19.7%/15.9% 17.86% 7.14% 14.29% 21.43% 39.29%
Loot Boxes 10.7% 21.1%/2.3% 17.65% 11.76% 11.76% 35.29% 23.53%
Other 2.5% 4.2%/1.1% 25.00% 50.00% 0.00% 25.00% 0.00%
Tournament Fees 5.7% 9.9%/2.3% 22.22% 22.22% 11.11% 11.11% 33.33%
Upgrades 3.1% 5.6%/1.1% 40.00% 0.00% 0.00% 40.00% 20.00%
Table 5. Top Five Personal Themes of Playing eSports
Frequency Themes Representative Quotes
27 Spending time with
friends/ Social
“ESports, when played with others in an online community, can provide
social interaction with like-minded individuals. It is another way to build
bonds and develop relationships too, which can blossom in other ways
(extended friendships, business, etc.).”
16 Teamwork “Many eSports require teamwork and communication to win a game.”
10 Critical Thinking/
Problem solving
“Problem solving and thinking outside of the box makes me more apt to
think of complex ways to approach things.”
10 Entertainment “Just like how others read books, watch television, go outdoors, and so on
just for entertainment and to occupy
oneself, playing eSports has a similar effect.”
9 Relaxing,
Disconnecting, and
Managing Stress
“I see it as a relaxing hobby.
“It (eSports) is the best way I’ve found to disconnect from what stresses me
and reset my mind.”
“It’s nice to take off some stress by playing a round or two of League!”
International Journal of eSports Research
Volume 1 • Issue 1 • January-June 2021
Among those who answered “No” to the question, “Do you see any personal benefits to playing
eSports?”, individuals most frequently responded that they didn’t know what eSports are. Other
responses include: “just a hobby/time killer”, “It would take time away from family”; “I think it is
very bad for your brain to play eSports. It is overstimulated if done for long periods of time.”
Esports and Academics
When students were asked “Do you see any academic benefits to playing eSports?”, 74 (56.1%)
reported yes, while 58 (43.9%) stated no. Primary outcome results indicated a significance between
gender and the perceived academic benefits to playing eSports (p=.0206, Fisher’s exact test). Men
(68.52%) reported higher perceived academic benefits than women (47.44%). All students perceived
some academic benefits to playing eSports (Freshman, 66.7%; Sophomores, 60%; Juniors, 48.5%;
Seniors, 56.3%; Graduate Students, 56.8%).
When students were asked specifically what they felt the academic benefits of playing eSports
were, five primary themes surfaced from their open-ended responses: Social Interactions/Teamwork,
Real-World Connections, Critical Thinking/ Problem solving, Scholarships, Relaxing, Focus, and
Managing Stress (See Table 6). Those who felt there were no academic benefits to playing eSports
generally fell into two camps, those who did not know what eSports is, therefore, did not know the
benefits and those who simply stated that there were no benefits. For example, one student wrote,
“I’m not sure what all counts as esports.”
Table 6. Five Academic Benefits of Playing eSports
Frequency Themes Representative Quotes
14 Social Interactions/
“It gives people who don’t play sports or do any other things on
campus a place and that helps them fit in more and reach out for
other’s help.
“Individual[s] that are introvert[s] and are not good with people
may have depression or don’t have a lot of people to interact with,
this is a great form to not feel lonely and is like a community with
individual that can bond over something.”
8 Real-World Connections “People who play could be computer processors or engineers
especially with technology always advancing in different career
“When real world theories are applied in a game, whether the
player realizes it or not, they tend to learn concepts that are
applicable in the real world.”
“Esports also requires a lot of leadership skills that could definitely
be useful in other areas of your life.”
16 Critical Thinking/ Problem
“I think that it likely will also build numerical skills, creative
thinking, computational thinking, and “what if” scenarios.”
“When your brain is being actively challenged and stimulated,
academic benefits occur.”
“There could be a lot of math behind the way you play.”
13 Scholarships “There could be a possibility of scholarships and creating
connections doing eSports.”
“For the students that do participate can receive scholarships.”
16 Relaxation, Focus, and
Managing Stress
“It could possibly help someone relax and allow for a small escape
from the pressures of studying. This would allow a student to
possibly release some stress and be able to focus more when they
do study.
“It relieves stress, so if I’m burnt out and I take a break to play for
an hour or two, I feel ready to get after it again.
International Journal of eSports Research
Volume 1 • Issue 1 • January-June 2021
One academic outcome found was based off the results of an OLS Regression, that checked for
significant differences and revealed that there was a strong significant difference and weak predictive
value in student classification and Grade Point Average (R2 = 0.306, p<.00001) in those who played
eSports. Freshman had much lower grade point averages than other student classifications. Means
and standard deviations for each variable are presented below as Table 5. However, there were no
significant differences between gender and GPA (p.< 0.114) in those who played eSports. Male
players averaged a GPA of 3.33 while female averages were only slightly higher (M = 3.46). Means
and standard deviations for each variable are presented below (see Table 7).
Interestingly enough, one student remarked, “I bet specific gamers who play games like Starcraft
or other hardcore strategy games outscore (gpa wise or whatever) the average student. Not to say
that gaming makes you smarter but smart people lean towards specific game types.” Another student
reported that gaming, “makes you want to maintain good grades.”
Risks of Playing eSports
When participants were asked the question, “Do you see any risks (i.e. dangers) to playing eSports?”,
both males (57.4%) and females (52.6%) perceived some risks. Their perceiving of the presence of
risks did not differ significantly between genders (p=.599, Fisher’s exact test). Additionally, there
was no statistical significance related to risks and the level of a students’ education (χ2 (4, N = 132)
= 7.65, p = .105, V = .241). However, freshman (73.3%) reported more perceived risks than other
Open-ended responses were categorized into four different themes: Addiction to eSports Gaming,
Mental, Social, or Emotional Risks, the Lack of Physical Activity, and Physical Disorders (See Table
8). Discussing addiction as a risk, one participant summed it up this way: “Just like traditional sports,
eSports have risks and dangers. Addiction is one of them, leading to lack of control and management
of time; sleep deprivation.” The second most frequently cited risk of playing eSports was the lack of
physical activity. There is a great deal of research showing benefits of physical activity (Malm et al.,
2019) and the following quote demonstrates how harmful eSports can be if taken too far: “Games are
usually played while sitting down and sitting down for long periods of time is actually detrimental to
their health.” The third most mentioned risk was Carpal tunnel injuries. One participant explained it
this way: “Hand based injuries due to very few differences in movements over long periods of time
if proper stretching methods aren’t taken into consideration.”
In terms of academics, this study revealed an important finding in that freshman (75% male, 25%
female) reported playing more during the day, over 6 hours a day, and noted having lower grade point
Table 7. Grade Point Averages by College Classification
Classification Average Median Sum Sample
Confidence Interval of
Freshman 2.75 2.7 41 15 2.32 to 3.19 0.79
Sophomore 3.35 3.4 50 15 3.13 to 3.56 0.39
Junior 3.41 3.3 113 33 3.28 to 3.55 0.38
Senior 3.37 3.4 108 32 3.21 to 3.52 0.42
Graduate School 3.73 3.8 138 37 3.64 to 3.83 0.28
International Journal of eSports Research
Volume 1 • Issue 1 • January-June 2021
averages (2.75). According to Goleman (2013), college students’ attention is already divided by an
“explosion of news streams, e-mails, phone calls, tweets, blogs, charts, reflections about opinions
about opinions that we expose our cognitive processors to daily” (p. 56); perhaps, limiting their
ability to concentrate. However, freshman students in this study also reported they compete more in
major tournaments than other classifications and perceived that playing games was not a hindrance
to doing their homework. Researchers have reported that, in general, students mature intellectually
and socially as they progress through college (McWhorter & Delello, 2016). This may also be an
indication of why student GPAs were higher with increased education levels.
Many students perceived that eSports were both personally and academically beneficial (e.g.
managing stress, critical thinking, problem solving, entertainment, teamwork, social interaction,
learned skills and focus). In reality, for many students, eSports allow them to experience aspects of
SDT such as autonomy (sense of agency and control), competence, the need for challenge, and the
promotion of social connectedness or relatedness with others (see Deci & Ryan, 2000). However,
some students also reported there were risks to playing eSports including vision, back, neck, and hand
problems and weight gain. Psychological, mental health was affected as many gaming communities
were reported as “toxic” and socialization was limited with others outside the game. Some students
even reported their addiction limited their motivation to do anything else. Additionally, 82% of the
students reported spending real-world money on gaming items. Men specifically reported spending
money on loot boxes, where players essentially wager real money or in-game credits. A recent study
of over 7,000 gamers suggested that loot box purchases provokes a similar level of excitement and
compulsive behavior as that of problematic gambling behaviors (Zendle & Cairns, 2018). And,
Zendle (2019) noted that that loot boxes “may act as a gateway to engagement with gambling
amongst gamers” (para. 7). According to the Gambling Health Alliance (n.d.), loot boxes can become
addicting, influencing a player’s mental health. Students in this study reported playing games such
as League of Legends, Overwatch, and FIFA, which contain loot boxes allowing for other forms of
monetary exchange.
These findings have important implications for understanding the habits of eSports players on
college campuses especially as colleges look to eSports as a method for recruiting and retaining
students. However, this study is not without limitations. For example, eSports has a multiplicity of
meanings and was not operationally defined for the participants in this study allowing for potential
ambiguity. Also, this study was based upon perceived data which may introduce some bias into the
study as the sample size was small and not all students answered every question. Some students were
recruited through listservs that were eSports related, which may have led to a more self-selected
Table 8. Risks of Playing eSports
Frequency Themes Representative Quotes
12 Addiction to eSports
“People I know flunked out of college or delayed their education
because they got addicted.”
“It can be addicting. Many play/watch for hours and hours”
7 Lack of Physical Activity “It can replace healthy habits like physical exercise.”
“Overweight due to too sedentary of a life style.”
7 Physical Disorders “One’s posture can be impacted (neck, back, wrists, hands, or
fingers); carpal tunnel syndrome…eye-problems (strain)… “Vision
problems could occur due to the blue light.”
6 Mental, Social, or Emotional
“Emotional risks include anger/frustration, isolation, and a constant
feeling of being compared.”
“There’s also long periods of isolation when one is preparing for a
competition, so it could also be detrimental to your social life if not
done in moderation.”
International Journal of eSports Research
Volume 1 • Issue 1 • January-June 2021
sample. Additionally, while trends may be present, regression methods may perform quite differently
in different data sets. For example, in this study, the predictive value of a student’s GPA to their
education level may not be generalizable to all college eSports gamers. Further research is needed
to demonstrate a correlation between eSports and lower GPAs. Do those students who are part of
a team and not just independently playing have better personal (e.g. sleep, exercise, spending) and
academic habits (e.g. GPA, time spent studying)?
As eSports becomes more prevalent on college campuses, it will be important that policies
regarding academic success and game play be established. For example, UC Berkeley Recreational
Sports (2021) published their Esports policies on their university page so that all stakeholders
understand the expectations and responsibilities of those wanting to use their eSports facilities.
These policies include inclusivity policies to thwart discrimination in its many forms, online content/
computer use, appropriate and additional use policies, reservation polices, and data collection policies,
among others.
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Julie Delello, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor in the College of Education and Psychology at The University
of Texas at Tyler. She also serves as the Director of the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning at the
university. She received her Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction with a specialization in science and technology
from Texas A&M University. She has extensive experience in curriculum and technology implementation and
faculty training and development. She has authored numerous publications and her professional interests focus on
teaching pedagogies, academic innovations, visual media technologies, artificial intelligence, STEM explorations,
gerontechnology, and social media platforms for authentic learning.
Rochell R. McWhorter is an Associate Professor of Human Resource Development in the Soules College of Business
at The University of Texas at Tyler. She received her Ph.D. degree from Texas A&M University. Dr. McWhorter
currently serves as an Associate Editor of the Advances in Developing Human Resource Development journal.
She has authored numerous journal articles and book chapters around technology-facilitated learning in higher
education and in the workplace. Her publications include topics such as virtual human resource development
(VHRD), professional virtual conferences, virtual scenario planning, visual social media, real-time group meetings
(RTGMs), virtual leadership development, and eService-Learning.
Paul B. Roberts, Ed.D., is a Professor of Human Resource Development at The University of Texas at Tyler. He
has received more than $1,000,000 in grants and funded projects. His research focuses on virtual HRD and the
demographics of HRD programs. He has received many honors for teaching, including the Chancellor’s Council
Outstanding Teaching Award. He also received the Academy of Human Resource Development (AHRD) Excellence
in Service Award, Paul was only the 7th recipient of this award in the 30-year history of the organization. Paul
earned his doctorate from the Department of Human Resource Development at Texas A&M University.
Hunter S. Dockery graduated from the Ben and Maytee Fisch College of Pharmacy at The University of Texas at
Tyler with his Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) degree in May of 2021.
Tonia De Giuseppe holds a Ph.D. in Language, Society, Politics and Education Sciences: Corporeity, Technologies
and Inclusion, at The University of Salerno. Since 1990, she has been involved in training processes and studies
of strategic educational implementations on complex territorial contexts. In particular, since 1998, Dr. De Giuseppe
has participated in multidisciplinary studies for the creation of intercultural inclusiveness systems, for which she
has received national and international recognition of merit. She has held roles of responsibility, training, planning
and evaluation for public bodies, the Campania Region, for international, governmental and non-governmental
organizations for cooperation and development education. Additionally, she has been involved as Tutor Organizer in
the university course preparatory to teaching at The University of Salerno, as a member of the Faculty of Education
(Degree in Primary Education Sciences, starting from the 2017/18 school year), Director of the Editorial Series,
Associate Editor of an international journal, served on editorial & scientific advisory board platforms, and as a
reviewer for international editorial boards. She is author of scientific contributions in journals, texts, and monographs
concerning topics of inclusive educational-design innovation.
Felicia Corona is a Research Doctor (PhD) and full Professor of Didactics and Special Pedagogy at the University
of Salerno. He is also President of the Didactic Council in Education Sciences for Inclusion and Wellbeing (SFIB),
Director of the postgraduate course in Didactics and Psychopedagogy for pupils with autistic disorders at the
Department of Human, Philosophical and Education Sciences at the university. Dr. Corona is the Rector’s Delegate
at the Sport University of Salerno and a member of the Editorial Boards of Autism Insight, Journal of Experimental
Neuroscience, Rehabilitation Process and Outcome and, the Annals of Neurosciences, official journal of the Indian
Academy of Neurosciences. His recent scientific production deals with the theme of special educational needs
with a transdisciplinary approach, which integrates the contributions of medical sciences, neurosciences and
technosciences into the heritage of educational and didactic research.
... This situation provides a conducive environment for electronic sports (eSports), which presents numerous benefits to students, i.e., enhanced critical thinking, teamwork, and self-direct learning . In 2022, the eSports industry is anticipated to be worth $1.79 billion, exhibiting a massive potential to be incorporated as a part of the future Olympic games (Delello et al., 2021). Notably, eSports' influence has gained traction among policymakers, academicians, and students (Rambe and Bere, 2013;Teo et al., 2019). ...
... The eSports is the fastest emerging industry in educational institutions, encompassing millions of global spectators and players, where students make up the majority of them. In the United States (US), for instance, various universities are joining the National Association of Collegiate eSports (NACE) (Delello et al., 2021). Meanwhile, 600 universities have already developed 1,600 eSports clubs on their premises, though experts and analysts expect this number to grow exponentially in the coming years (McGrath, 2019). ...
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This study examined the factors that affect the attitude and behavioral intentions toward electronic sports (eSports) among students of higher education institutions based on the technology acceptance model (TAM). The conditional impact of preventive regulatory focus was analyzed in various aspects developed on the regulatory focus theory. These aspects comprised of perceived usefulness, perceived ease of use, and perceived risk on the attitude toward eSports. Accordingly, data were collected from 293 students of higher education institutions in China's Henan Province, presenting a 54.56% response rate. The PLS-SEM analysis was subsequently implemented to confirm the proposed hypotheses. The empirical findings confirmed the significant positive impact of perceived usefulness and perceived ease of use on the attitude toward eSports. However, perceived risk negatively affected the attitude toward eSports. Meanwhile, the findings on the moderating hypotheses found a negligible impact on preventive regulatory focus. This impact was found explicitly on the perceived usefulness-perceived ease of use link with attitude toward eSports. However, the preventive regulatory focus negatively moderated the perceived risk attitude toward eSports. Finally, the implication and limitations were illustrated at the end of the paper.
... Many organisations are now involved in this ecosystem, operating in different areas and at different scales. Approaches and foci are varied, differing based on their origin whether grassroots, collegiate, institutionalised, or corporate efforts in different geographic regions [37,81]. ...
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Quick reactions are considered important in both, traditional and electronic sports and research findings suggest that reaction time can be optimized by both sports activity and playing action video games. In this study, reaction and motor times of 18 professional and 21 non-professional eSports players from different genres and 36 non-professional traditional sportsmen were compared using the Vienna Test System. No differences between the groups were found in simple visual, acoustic, and choice reaction times. Differentiated by game genre, players from sports simulations had significantly shorter reaction times than MOBA players in the acoustic and choice reaction test. The results of this study suggest that traditional sports and eSports may improve reaction times to a similar amount. Furthermore, various game genres require different reaction times or may affect related abilities in different ways.
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Research background: At the beginning of this century, the eSports industry was not yet a major player although it already existed as a niche of video and computer games. The importance and interest only began to increase with the rise of the internet and its infrastructure. Especially among the younger generation, eSports, today, has a significant meaning. Worldwide, professional players duel each other in countless tournaments online and offline and are enthusiastically celebrated by their millions of fans. Purpose of the article: The purpose of this paper is to analyze how eSports has developed in recent years since its first boom phase as well as to analyze its growth factors and how it has benefited from the COVID-19 pandemic compared to traditional competitive sports. Methods: The global eSports revenues and prize money values are analyzed. The first step is defining the eSports term. The second is looking at the development of eSports financials since its first boom and onward. The COVID-19 pandemic and its impacts are then looked at. Finally, growth factors for the increasing numbers are analyzed. Findings & Value added: The findings show that eSports has gained significant importance in recent years. In particular, the strong increase in global eSports revenue and the associated increase in players’ prize money clearly show that eSports will continue to gain importance and economic strength in the future.
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Esports are a rapidly growing phenomenon and understanding of factors underlying game performance are therefore of great interest. The present study investigated the influence of satisfaction of basic psychological needs (competence, autonomy, and relatedness), type of motivation (amotivation, external regulation, introjected regulation, identified regulation, integrated regulation, and intrinsic motivation), and number of matches played (time on task) on individuals’ performance on a matchmaking rating (MMR) in the video game Defence of the Ancients 2 (Dota 2). Collected data from 315 participants was included in the analyses. A web-based questionnaire was used to collect data and structural equation modelling (SEM) was performed to analyze the data. The results show that perceived competence and autonomy were the only significant predictors of MMR performance beyond matches played. Fulfillment of relatedness, as well as motivational factors, were not found to be predictors of MMR scores. The strong effect of matches played, used as proxy of time on task, emphasize the effect of time and practice as a critical aspect of video-game expertise.
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A variety of practices have recently emerged which relate to both video games and gambling. These range from opening loot boxes, to esports betting, real-money video gaming, token wagering, and social casino spending. It is unknown either how harmful or how widespread many of these activities are. A sample of 1,081 adults from the UK aged 18+ was therefore recruited. This sample was purposively recruited via quota sampling to represent the UK population in terms of sex, age, and ethnicity. Engagement in all forms of gaming-related practices were significantly associated with both problem gambling and disordered gaming. A total of 18.5% of the sample had engaged in these activities at least once in the new year. These results suggest a convergent ecosystem of practices that relate to both video games and gambling. Engagement in each of these activities is linked to problem gambling. However, it remains unclear whether engagement in these activities causes problem gambling.
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Research examining the relationship between gaming disorder, gaming motivations, and mental health is increasing, but the types of gaming use, such as recreational gaming and esports are not commonly distinguished. The present study compared recreational gamers and esport gamers (N = 4284) on a number of variables including game time, gaming motivations, severity of gaming disorder, and psychiatric symptoms. Additionally, the mediating effect of gaming motivations among esport and recreational gamers between psychiatric distress and problematic gaming was examined. Results showed that esport gamers spent significantly more time playing video games both on weekdays and weekend days than recreational gamers. Moreover, esport gamers had higher scores on social, competition, and skill development gaming motivations than recreational gamers. The mediation model demonstrated a significant positive direct and significant mediated effect via escapism (i.e., gaming excessively to avoid real life problems) between the higher levels of psychiatric distress and gaming disorder. However, esport and recreational gamers showed no significant differences in the model. The escapism motive appeared to be the common predictor of problematic gaming among both esport and recreational gamers. Future studies should focus on exploring escapism's mechanism in different subgroups of gamers in relation to problematic gaming to help the development of prevention, intervention, and treatment programs.
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Positive effects from sports are achieved primarily through physical activity, but secondary effects bring health benefits such as psychosocial and personal development and less alcohol consumption. Negative effects, such as the risk of failure, injuries, eating disorders, and burnout, are also apparent. Because physical activity is increasingly conducted in an organized manner, sport’s role in society has become increasingly important over the years, not only for the individual but also for public health. In this paper, we intend to describe sport’s physiological and psychosocial health benefits, stemming both from physical activity and from sport participation per se. This narrative review summarizes research and presents health-related data from Swedish authorities. It is discussed that our daily lives are becoming less physically active, while organized exercise and training increases. Average energy intake is increasing, creating an energy surplus, and thus, we are seeing an increasing number of people who are overweight, which is a strong contributor to health problems. Physical activity and exercise have significant positive effects in preventing or alleviating mental illness, including depressive symptoms and anxiety- or stress-related disease. In conclusion, sports can be evolving, if personal capacities, social situation, and biological and psychological maturation are taken into account. Evidence suggests a dose–response relationship such that being active, even to a modest level, is superior to being inactive or sedentary. Recommendations for healthy sports are summarized.
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eSports is a rising modality of sports entertainment in the United States and has growing implications for education. Providing competitive eSports teams in schools satisfies the growing desire to train and educate students on the skills emphasized in STEM and Career Technical Education (CTE) education, as well as in programs such as English and Language Arts. eSports develop the soft skills universities and employers like to see in a student graduating from high school. As the market continues to grow for eSports, opportunities for post-secondary education as well as for prospective employment will increase. The popularity of eSports will continue to grow, and this popularity will be reflected in the schools.
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Accompanying esports’ explosion in popularity, the amount of academic research focused on organized, competitive gaming has grown rapidly. From 2002 through March 2018, esports research has developed from nonexistent into a field of study spread across seven academic disciplines. We review work in business, sports science, cognitive science, informatics, law, media studies, and sociology to understand the current state of academic research of esports and to identify convergent research questions, findings, and trends across fields.
This chapter includes an overview of collegiate esports, which represents a relatively new competitive and involvement opportunity on campus, but which has its origins as far back as 1972. The authors begin with a timeline of video games and their evolution, transitioning to the advent of esports as a varsity activity on college and university campuses. The balance of the chapter deals with student considerations for an esports program in light of a wellness model (i.e., emotional, environmental, financial, intellectual, occupational, physical, social, and spiritual), followed by institutional considerations such as mission, student eligibility, academic supports, finances, and legal issues. The chapter concludes with future considerations related to governance of esports, opportunities for academic program synergies, and research opportunities.
The digital era brought a new impulse to the gaming world as per the invention of video games, discovery of a new and unique gameplay medium and establishment of gaming companies who implemented the monetization system and initiated a business model over buying and selling games and downloadable contents. The internet age converted the games to MMOs (Massively Multiplayer Online Games) which enabled the players compete against real human opponents instead of artificial intelligence of the device and thus, planted the seeds of a new and more competitive gameplay type. Such gameplay attracted the gaming audience and consumers, of whom some intended to display their skills and mastery over games to others via digital broadcasters (like YouTube and Twitch) and suddenly this ploy turned into a show and entertainment business, named as esports. As esports spread wider, competent authorities and international governing bodies are founded and recognized such activities as a sports branch with legislative elements. When the esports player began to get paid by the ecosystem, they became professionals and chose to pursue a career within this brand-new practice. As the early modern theories that define games ostracized and rejected the possibility of receiving any material interest as a result of playing games, the gamer status of professional players was questioned, similar to the professional athletes of the traditional sports did once.