Although Esports and video games have moved past the moral panic of the 1980s and 1990s, there are still some studies that suggest that Esports may pose some disadvantages and risks to fans and players.
While playing and enjoying Esports content is not inherently bad, playing too much can lead to an array of harmful physical, social, and psychological conditions. Furthermore, the content of Esports titles can be distressing for children and/or sensitive people.
The following are fifteen disadvantages and risks of Esports:
1. Esports Can Be Addictive
Although top Esports athletes have been known to train/strategize upwards of eight hours a day, this is essential for competing at the top level. Professional sports psychologists, trainers, managers, and nutritionists often oversee this training.
However, many amateur players who want to emulate top players and remain on the higher tiers of online leaderboards or local tournaments have been known to put in similar hours (sometimes more!)
The problem is that this amount of gaming can have profound negative effects on one’s social life, mental health, and physical health. Furthermore, it may develop into a diagnosable addiction whereby you neglect other important daily tasks in favor of gaming/consuming Esports content.
Typically speaking, having five or more of the following signs may be a sign of video game addiction that needs to be urgently addressed by a professional:
- Constantly thinking about video games/Esports,
- Feeling miserable when you can’t game/consume Esports content,
- Trying and failing to quit,
- Lacking the motivation to do other things,
- Having problems at school/work,
- Lying to people about how much time you spend gaming/consuming Esports content,
- Using gaming/Esports as an extreme form of escapism,
- Neglecting important daily hygiene tasks such as bathing or doing laundry.
2. Esports Can Showcase Harmful Content
Depending on the game being played, Esports can show distressing/inappropriate content for children or sensitive individuals suffering from conditions such as PTSD.
The reason is that many popular Esports titles are in the RTS, MOBA, FPS, or fighting game genres. Generally speaking, these genres of games showcase acts of violence between player-controlled characters, whereby certain games can showcase graphic violence, gore, and/or sound design.
Therefore, you must research the premise, content, and design of a game before you decide to play it or consume the content surrounding the game. Fortunately, most games advertise their content through rating systems and content warnings.
3. Esports Can Be Stressful
Like any competitive traditional sport or game, the desire to win and perform under pressure can prove stressful. Although a level of challenge makes Esports fun and exciting, too much stress can prove seriously detrimental to your health.
These stresses can be further compounded under tournament conditions or if you are playing with/against verbally abusive players.
Furthermore, the content of a video game may prove distressing, as violent video games usually have accurate sound design, such as gunfire or explosions, to complement their visuals.
4. Esports Can Have “Toxic” Communities
Further to disadvantage three, many Esports communities are known to have “toxic” online communities. The reason is that most Esports forums, game lounges, platforms, and streaming services allow fans/players to engage with each other under the guise of anonymity.
Consequently, many Esports communities have had challenges with players/fans being verbally abusive to each other. Although there is a concerted effort to address these issues, many Esports communities are notorious for being slow to punish players that engage in verbal abuse.
5. Esports Can Promote Gambling
Like traditional sports, many gambling websites allow people to bet on the outcome of Esports events. Therefore, the risk of developing a gambling problem/addiction via Esports gambling is similar to traditional sports betting.
Furthermore, some Esports games have mechanics that some people believe mirror gambling. These mechanics usually take the form of “loot boxes,” whereby players spend real-world money in exchange for a random in-game virtual item.
6. Esports Can Promote Cheating
Although it is difficult to cheat in Esports, some players have been found installing software on their computer/gaming consoles, which gives them a level of in-game assistance not available to other players.
Alternatively, another tactic that some people consider cheating is the establishment of multiple accounts whereby a high-skill player can enter low-skill brackets under a different account than the one they usually play under.
7. Esports Has Had Issues With Drug Use
Although many professional Esports leagues and committees have anti-doping codes and mandatory drug testing for professional players, there are still instances of top players using performance-enhancing drugs during practices or off-season.
Furthermore, casual and amateur Esports gamers may have access to performance-enhancing drugs such as Adderall for improved concentration and mental alertness.
By extension, some players may be tempted to experiment with non-prescription drugs to give them a competitive edge.
8. Esports Can Cause Eye Problems
Because Esports requires players and fans to engage with the material via electronic media, prolonged time spent in front of a monitor or television screen can lead to eye problems such as fatigue, strain, and blurry vision.
According to some studies, using a computer for just three hours a day can significantly increase your chances of eye damage.
9. Esports Can Cause Back Problems
Because Esports requires players to sit for long periods, usually resulting in poor posture throughout a gaming session. It is common for fans/players of Esports to experience lower back pain, neck pain, and headaches.
10. Esports Can Effect Players’ Mental Health
Although it would be amiss to suggest that video games and Esports are inherently bad, excessive time spent on video games and Esports can negatively affect mental health, especially if a player experiences a lot of stress/anxiety while gaming.
Some examples of poor mental health from excessive gaming include, but are not limited to:
- Using gaming/Esports as a coping mechanism,
- Shyness or antisocial behavior,
- Heightened aggression,
- Reduced self-worth,
- Diminished life satisfaction,
- Increased rates of depression and anxiety.
11. Esports Can Cause Wrist Injuries
Because most Esports games require players to give commands via a mouse, keyboard, and/or controller, many players will experience hand and wrist problems due to excessive clicking and small, repetitive movements.
Therefore, excessive playing can go from minor injuries such as wrist sprain to more serious conditions such as carpal tunnel syndrome.
12. Esports Can Cause Heart Disease
Although there is still ongoing research between video games and heart disease, a study by the University of Bayreuth found that playing popular Esports titles such as Fifa or Counter-Strike does not affect energy expenditure or metabolism.
Consequently, the study found that gaming does not improve cardiovascular health but instead just exposes players to the risks of heart problems due to a sedentary lifestyle.
13. Esports Can Be Expensive
Depending on the video game played, Esports can be an expensive hobby depending on the game’s system requirements, the game’s cost, any peripherals to play the game competitively, and/or any in-game purchases available to the player.
As mentioned in reason five, many Esports titles rely on revenue from in-game purchases, some of which can spiral into thousands of dollars!
14. Esports Is Not Well Regulated
Although some Esports tournaments and leagues are subject to the rules and regulations of governing bodies, there is a lack of global buy-in for overarching legislation or organizations.
Furthermore, universal regulation is almost impossible to achieve because of the ease at which any game can become an Esports in an online space.
Consequently, there are concerns that Esports could be a platform for bribery, corruption, and/or tax evasion by nefarious persons and bodies.
15. Esports Can Expose People To Unwanted Online Content
Finally, because playing Esports and engaging with Esports content typically involves online interactions, players are at risk of being exposed to unwanted content not intended by the developers or publishers of the Esports in question.
Therefore, players/fans should choose to engage with recognized platforms that have moderators that enforce a set of rules and restrictions to minimize the risk of exposure to harmful content.
In conclusion, Esports is a fun and enjoyable hobby that may pose some risks and disadvantages to players/fans if they are unaware of the content they are consuming and/or engage in excessive gaming.