Research & Teaching


Project Description

In this digital age, video games are becoming increasingly more accepted by society and more and more people are developing an interest for this topic. The entire field is given a particular boost through esport. However, in examining the strains and physiological and psychological processes taking place within the athletes in this sport, many things remain unclear according to the current state of knowledge. This “risk demographic” has been neglected until now, meaning that only limited information exists regarding their state of health. Although parallels to classical sports exist, holistic training structures are yet to be developed. There are also approaches to integrate conceptual training in performance-oriented esports, however these are based on subjective assumptions. It is for this reason that esports should be more closely investigated as part of this project. The focus is on annual surveys with changing thematic focus, asking casual, amateur and professional esports players about their health-related behaviors and training regimens. This survey is intended to record and document the current state of affairs in the field. The results so far can be read under research findings. Additionally, a range of measurements will be carried out with professional esports players. In doing so, esports-specific parameters in particular will be recorded, such as reaction time or hand-eye coordination (for more information: see Assessment battery). Both diagnostic methods – survey and assessment battery – will take place simultaneously. The data from the assessment battery, combined with the results of the eSports Study, should help to recognise factors which influence performance; factors which could be used to develop later training concepts. On the other hand, the results can also lead to a standard for comparing future investigations.

Essential Components of the Project

  • Profile of requirements/ exposure profile
  • Training measures
  • Annual survey of health status and health behavior
  • Objective measurements with amateur and professional esports players
  • Support of the development of a profile of requirements/ exposure profile
  • Continued development of the assessment battery
  • Development of a best practice training concept for gamers
  • Development of a prevention model project for esports players
  • Conceptualization of the prevention model project for esports players in the day-to-day lives of the companies
  • Development and testing of a prevention concept for schools with the access route esport
  • Realization and sustainable implementation of the concept in schools

Aims of the Project

The overarching aims of the project consist of analysing the training and health-related behaviours of esports players in order to subsequently optimise them. To this end, the first stage of the project will consist of gathering insights regarding the training and health-related behaviour of esports players. In doing so, a general profile of requirements and exposure profile will be completely identified in order to derive suitable approaches to training. The resulting measures should be translated into a best practice concept and, in addition to promoting the performance of the players, should also contribute towards promoting their health. The preventative measures which are developed will be aimed both at competitive athletes and the recreational athletes. Here, the Institute of Movement Therapy and movement-oriented Prevention and Rehabilitation at the German Sport University Cologne will assume the role of scientific management of the project.

Assessment battery

In the assessment battery, a range of the esports players’ skills will be recorded and made comparable. Fine motor skills represent a key aspect here. Barely visible from the outside, esports players carry out a very high number of small and precise movements within the shortest space of time – up to 400 actions per minute, simultaneously and asymmetrically. Good hand-eye coordination must be guaranteed in order to be able to carry out these precise movements during a game. Furthermore, skills such as perception and awareness, and the reaction time associated with these, are of key significance.

Taking entire tournaments into consideration, the esports players are required to participate in many games over the course of many hours. In order to nevertheless achieve a good performance, these skills must be particularly well-developed and above average. During such tournaments, the player is permanently alert and requires increased and enduring powers of concentration in order to first, properly assess the situation in the game, and secondly, react to this in an appropriate manner within the shortest amount of time. In some instances, mere milliseconds make the difference here. In some situations, reacting too late or making even the smallest mistake can mean the difference between victory and defeat. But what exactly does the esports player look at during a game in order to be able to take advantage of such pivotal situations in the game at the right time? For those who wish to delve deeper into this question, eye movements and focal points, as well as the targeted and quick control of the correct muscles and the precise execution of various movements simultaneously, play an important role.

In order to meet as many requirements as possible, an assessment battery was created which measures the esports players’ eye movements, as well as the corresponding fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination, reaction, perception, and awareness. Subsequently, the current fitness state of the esports players will be examined via spiroergometry. The resulting findings should provide insights into which skills characterise good esports players, and what distinguishes professional players from amateurs.

Prevention and Workplace Health Promotion in eSports

With its current input methods (mouse, keyboard, controller), esports is characterised by long periods of sitting in front of a screen and a high degree of alertness over a long time. In doing so, both physical and psychological stressors play a significant role. A current example of this is the critical issue of the effects on health of long amounts of time spent sitting. We already speak of “sitting is the new smoking”.

Contrary to classic sports, the training behaviour of esports players is more comparable to the day-to-day life of a very busy office worker, and thus with their health risk profile. It is thus not too far-fetched to conclude that esports players are also more prone to, for example, cardiovascular illnesses, back problems and stress-related psychological problems such as burnout in the long term.
What’s more, tendon disorders caused by often-repeated movement patterns and cramped postures are also common. One possible consequence of this is, for example, chronic tendinitis in the wrist. Such cases of inflammation are severe, difficult to treat, and often associated with longer hiatuses, which can absolutely mean the end of an esports player’s career. However, a preventative approach is yet to emerge.

Those who wish to be the best in esports competitions must be in good condition both physically and mentally, as it is the overall condition of an esports player which decides between victory and defeat. A healthy cardiovascular system and a balanced diet also form part of this! After all, it is only through good physical fitness that you can achieve a maximum in concentration, attentiveness, reactivity and dexterity. As a supplement to esports, physical training at moderate intensity can have a positive influence on the health of the brain, and can significantly strengthen cognitive performance. This includes, among others, memory and attentiveness functions, as well as functions which contribute towards carrying out a specific action.

On a professional level, structures are slowly forming which promote player fitness. Life coaches and personal trainers are tasked with providing the foundation for a healthy lifestyle. However, these initiatives are only just scratching the surface of those measures which are required. Many measures can be carried over from the field of occupational safety for the comparative group of office workers, such as ergonomics,light influences, screen settings or even the handling of psychological stress.

All things considered, there are several good reasons to develop the promotion of health in esports and to include experiences from workplace health management, workplace health promotion, and occupational safety in such efforts.

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