The popularity of esports continues to rise, generating billions of dollars in estimated profit. Newzoo estimated that esports would generate 1.8 billion in revenue by 2022.
As the popularity of esports grows, so does the popularity of live streaming, and the challenges that each business faces in terms of mental health are comparable. This article will look at the health concerns present in esports today and how it applies to live streamers on platforms like Twitch, YouTube, and Facebook.
What do Studies Show?
The rise of esports has brought increased scrutiny on players’ physical and mental health. Like traditional sports, there is a lot of money on the line in esports, and players are often pushed to their physical and mental limits to win.
As a result, there is a growing body of research on esports players’ physical and mental health.
Effects on Mental Health
The study, “Constant Pressure of Having to Perform”: Exploring Player Health Concerns in Esports” by Northeastern University differentiates esports professionals from casual gamers as having “higher levels of overall skill and understanding… the essential skills necessary to compete at the highest levels.” Additionally, esports players “follow a rigorous practice routine with hours dedicated to developing and improving their overall gameplay.”
These differentiators strike a heavy similarity to that of full-time live streamers. Live streamers are also under constant pressure to perform as they are live streaming for an audience. Audiences watch live streamers for different reasons. Some enjoy a creator’s personality, while the gameplay is secondary. Others watch to see a skilled player compete against others.
No matter the reason for watching, audiences want entertaining and engaging content. Like professional esports players, live streamers’ mental health can be affected by lengthy hours committed to enhancing their talents as an entertainer and rigorous practice to increase their skills at a game.
Effects on Physical Health
In the study, “Managing the health of the eSport athlete: an integrated health management model,” researchers found esport athletes are prone to overuse injuries. Eye strain was the most prevalent complaint, followed by neck and back discomfort. According to this study, esport players are also prone to wrist and hand discomfort.
Many of these negative effects are brought on by the long hours players spend in front of a computer. According to this study, “the injuries seen in esports are similar to conditions seen in sedentary desk jobs with the incorporation of intense dexterous actions”
The physical and mental health concerns in live streaming are similar to those in esports. Prolonged sitting, stress, and anxiety are just some of the issues that both industries face. With more people streaming every day, it is important to be aware of the risks associated with high computer usage. Like esports professionals, many full-time live streamers sit for prolonged durations of time.
Mentality plays are large part in live streaming. There is immense pressure to be entertaining and keep the viewers engaged. This type of work can be very taxing on one’s mental health and can lead to a need to “grind,” which in live streaming means long hours sitting in front of a computer, playing games, and chatting with your viewers without breaks.
At the height of Tyler “Ninja” Belvin’s popularity on Twitch, he reportedly lost 40,000 subscribers after taking a two-day break. In revenue, this equates to approximately $100,000. This serves as a prime example of the challenges live streamers face. Although not everyone makes that type of money, many people believe they should stream for extended periods of time without taking a break or potentially miss out on potential followers and revenue.
Stress and Anxiety: According to this study on the physical and mental effects esports players experience, all subjects reported significant levels of stress with revenue contributing as a major psychological factor.
According to this study, esports professionals, “often survived exclusively on the revenue they received from playing well.” Similarly, most full-time live streamers rely on the money they receive from their community. They don’t have the luxury of receiving a consistent weekly check. In many ways, streaming is a more arduous task because of the unpredictability inherent when streaming to hundreds of different viewers. Some people are more generous than others, and some days you might get nothing.
The unpredictability of income, the need to be constantly entertaining, and the pressure to grow one’s channel are all sources of stress for live streamers.
The anxiety and stress that comes with live streaming can manifest in different ways. Some common symptoms include headaches, nausea, lightheadedness, dizziness, rapid heart rate, shortness of breath, chest pain, and feelings of dread.
Burnout: In the study mentioned above, symptoms of burnout were a common thread between participants. These symptoms were linked to the difficulty of balancing work and personal life. Their social lives sometimes suffered due to extended hours of team practice and the effort they put into their profession on their own time. Some athletes cited isolation as a key issue affecting their mental health.