Gaming Fatigue 101: What Is It & How Can You Avoid It?
Blog written by Kylie Marler
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The eSports industry has been growing year after year, with millions of viewers across the world. But behind all the glamour, eSports players pay a high price for their training hours and competitions. Fatigue for eSports players is a serious matter, and though perhaps not a life-threatening issue, it can lead to several problems, such as physical and mental health issues, poor performance, and even burnout. Megan Anderson writes in an article for TheGamer, “gaming fatigue is one of the many forms of “burnout,” which is used to describe a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion brought on by prolonged stress.” Gaming fatigue is a very common issue in professional and casual gamers alike. This post discusses the dangers of gaming fatigue, how it happens, and what steps can be taken to help prevent it.
The Dangers of Gaming Fatigue
Researchers say it’s time to address the issue of gaming fatigue. In her article for USA TODAY, Jennifer Jolly writes, “Prolonged play sessions are often to blame for everything from eye strain and back pain to blood clots and collapsed lungs.” Wilsoncenter.org lists some of the physical concerns of gaming, such as, “sleep disturbances, vision issues, overuse injuries (like carpal tunnel), even metabolic concerns from energy drink consumption.” The article also says gamers, “may be at a greater risk for higher rates of back and joint pain and higher incidents of difficulty sleeping.” And although physical health is a big concern, mental health issues such as stress, mental fatigue, and burnout are also part of the dangers of gaming fatigue. Esportshealthcare.com includes some symptoms of mental fatigue, such as, “feeling tired, lethargic, irritable, and emotionally drained. You may also experience physical ailments such as headache or feeling physically weak.” According to ESPN.com, “more often than not, it’s mental health issues, not physical ability, that ends a pro player’s career.”
How Gaming Fatigue Happens
Unhealthy gaming habits lead to health risks and long-term damage. But how exactly does gaming fatigue happen? In an article for TheGamer, Megan Anderson writes, “many factors can contribute to gaming fatigue or burnout, but they all relate to sustained, heightened levels of stress.” Esportshealthcare.com‘s article goes a little more in detail, writing, “it appears much of this stress is fueled by pressure to do more—to stream more hours per day and more days per week, to grind your game until you get your chance at the professional level, and so on.” Gaming fatigue is more than just feeling tired. But there are steps you can take to help prevent it.
Steps to Prevent Fatigue in eSports
It’s important for gamers to incorporate self care into their schedules, both in and out of game, in order to prevent gaming fatigue. Below are some steps you can take to help prevent fatigue and stay healthy while gaming.
It’s no secret that good sleep habits have a massive impact on overall health and wellness (check out this article to learn more), but for gamers specifically, esportshealthcare.com writes, “insufficient sleep will suppress your immune system, decrease your physical ability, decrease your focus, suppress your memory, inhibit ability to learn, and so much more.” The article also talks about the four pillars of sleep: regularity, continuity, duration, and quality. All four play a major role in maintaining good sleep habits.
2. Take Breaks
Stepping away from the screens is another step you can take to help prevent gaming fatigue. Compete.playstation.com says, “Sleep isn’t the only type of break you need. Going outside is good for you and your aspirations.” In their article, esportshealthcare.com also addresses taking breaks. They wrote, “taking breaks includes regular separation (e.g., weekly scheduled downtime) and vacation-style separation”. There are so many ways to step back and take a break from gaming. In their article, whatnerd.com lists a few, including exploring other gaming genres, returning to old favorites (like a classic game you used to love), watching other people gaming, reading interesting gaming articles, and trying a new hobby. Compete.playstation.com also writes about how finding a second hobby can help. Their article says, “recreational and relaxation activities reduce stress, creative hobbies can make you feel better the next day, creative collaborations improve self-esteem and social connections, and physical activity reduces depression, anxiety, and stress.”
3. A Healthy Diet
Healthy eating habits can directly impact gaming fatigue. In their article, MedicalNewsToday lists benefits of a healthy diet, including maintaining a healthy heart, better moods, improved memory, and a higher quality of sleep.
4. Mental Health
Taking care of your mental health is another step you can take to help prevent gaming fatigue (learn more about mental health in gaming here). There is a fine line between a healthy amount of gaming and video game addiction. According to esportshealthcare.com, common signs of video game addiction include, “neglecting hobbies, symptoms of physical or psychological withdrawal, or signs of irritability or anger when forced to stop gaming for a period of time.” Harvard writes in a post on their Harvard Health Blog, “gaming has also been associated with sleep deprivation, insomnia and circadian rhythm disorders, depression, aggression, and anxiety”.
If you are concerned about your mental health’s relationship with gaming, the best thing to do is to seek help. Here is esportshealthcare.com’s list of mental and behavioral health resources.
It’s evident that gaming fatigue is a large factor in the success of gamers. The most effective way to combat it is to maintain a healthy lifestyle – one that includes good sleep patterns, frequent breaks, a healthy diet, and mental health awareness. It may be easy to shrug off the idea of ‘gaming fatigue’, but China’s most famous eSports player, Jian Zihao (player name “Uzi”), retired from gaming at age 23, citing poor health as the reasoning behind his decision. In his message to fans, Uzi said, “As a result of staying up late for years, a fatty diet and being under insurmountable stress, last year I found out that I was type-2 diabetic.” He continued, saying he made changes to his work schedule, exercise patterns, and “taken medicine”, but nothing had changed. He added, “My mental state is not as good as it was before… The doctor has told me that if I continue there could be serious complications. Thank you to my fans for your support and companionship all these years” (You can read more about this here).
So the next time you are tempted to ignore the warning signs of gaming fatigue, you might want to consider what is at risk.
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Anderson, M. (2020, July 1). How To Combat Gaming Fatigue. TheGamer; TheGamer. https://www.thegamer.com/gaming-fatigue-how-to-prevent/
Crichton-Stuart, C. (2020, November 26). The top 10 benefits of eating healthy. Medical and Health Information; Medical News Today. http://medicalnewstoday.com/articles/322268#heart-health
Erzberger, T. (2018, August 20). Mental health issues in esports remain silent but very real threat to players. ESPN.Com; ESPN. https://www.espn.com/esports/story/_/id/24427802/mental-health-issues-esports-remain-silent-very-real-threat-players
Esports: Health and Safety at the Collegiate Level | Wilson Center. (n.d.). Wilson Center. Retrieved December 19, 2021, from https://www.wilsoncenter.org/article/esports-health-and-safety-collegiate-level
Gaming fatigue: how to prevent burnout and save your career – Esports Healthcare. (2020, February 29). Esports Healthcare. https://esportshealthcare.com/gaming-fatigue/
Gaming “hero” retires at 23 due to ill-health – BBC News. (2020, June 4). BBC News; BBC News. https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-52920786
LeClair, D. (2019, August 16). Feeling Gaming Fatigue? What to Do When You’re Tired of Playing Games – whatNerd. WhatNerd; whatNerd. https://whatnerd.com/what-to-do-gaming-fatigue/
Six Tips to Prevent Burnout and Improve in Esports. (n.d.). PlayStation Competition Center | PS4TM Tournaments. Retrieved December 20, 2021, from https://compete.playstation.com/en-us/article/tips-prevent-burnout-improve-competitive-multiplayer-video-games
The health effects of too much gaming – Harvard Health. (2020, December 22). Harvard Health. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/the-health-effects-of-too-much-gaming-2020122221645
Video games and mental health: a powerful tool for good or for bad – Esports Healthcare. (n.d.). Esports Healthcare. Retrieved December 20, 2021, from https://esportshealthcare.com/video-games-and-mental-health/
Jolly, J. (2019, July 30). Esports injuries real for pros and at-home gamer, from finger sprains to collapsed lungs. USA Today. Retrieved December 18, 2021, from https://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/columnist/2019/07/29/video-games-esport-pros-face-serious-injuries-so-can-home-players/1832131001/