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How to prioritise player wellbeing in esports: Bett 2023

Esports at Bett’s 2023 show was, quite simply, massive. The topic sparked conversations not just because its place in education is unconventional, but also because it’s genuinely effective at encouraging learning. As well as engaging students, esports can help players develop strategic, critical thinking, and team-building skills. There’s a bright future ahead for esports in education; Futuresource expects every region to see a rise in the installed base of PCs used for esports in K-12 schools. 

But with a new focus on esports in education, concerns surrounding player wellbeing are also coming to the fore. It’s no small issue: esports certainly has a reputation for entailing a less-than-healthy lifestyle. Social isolation, screen times of eye-watering heights, and a sedentary lifestyle are some common associations. While there are plenty of examples of healthy esports players, more education needs to permeate the industry. The Bett panel ‘The brain and the game – prioritising player wellbeing in esports’ addressed some common issues an esports player might experience, and importantly, how to prevent these problems and encourage a healthy lifestyle.  

The impact of esports on mental and physical health 

The session brought together Alex Davies and Callum Abbott, Head of Performance for Resolve and Head of Performance for IFoEC respectively. Both work on getting the best out of esports players – and integral to this is prioritising wellbeing. Although esports isn’t an active sport, the physical and psychological impact of esports can still be great. And, unlike in traditional sports, most esports players don’t have access to sports psychologists and physiotherapists, making burnout and health complications a very real concern.  

“One of the key things that we often overlook or take for granted in esports is that social wellbeing side. There is a heavy assumption that there is a lot of isolation in esports, with the player alone in their room all day for ten hours a day, grinding out games,” said Abbott. As well as hoping to combat the stigma associated with esports, Abbott underscored the importance of building a strong social network to support players. 

Striking the balance 

The idea of balance was floated as a core component of wellbeing. It doesn’t have to be complicated – in fact, Davies encourages the opposite. What your day-to-day looks like can tell you much of what you need to know. If you feel sluggish in the mornings, then you may need to consider your sleep hygiene. For example, switching off devices before bed or having a wind-down routine are small changes that can make a big difference. 

Naturally, the more hours a player clocks, the bigger the potential health impact. But it’s a highly competitive space, and becoming a professional will demand a significant number of gaming hours. Being seated for hours at a time and being isolated from others are all somewhat a prerequisite to success. “Tiny little things like getting out of your room, out of the house, into the outdoors in between games can be really beneficial,” said Davies. 

Small habits with a big impact 

Both speakers emphasised the importance of small, healthy habits. Getting outside for fresh air and exercise, a good sleeping routine, and a healthy diet can help prevent burnout. The ingredients to good well-being are surprisingly simple.  

Generating awareness of how to spot burnout is key. Your performance dropping or getting noticeably angry can act as warning signs, so it’s about bringing self-awareness to your daily life. Moving your body in whatever way suits you – it doesn’t have to be the gym or a run. Making these habits as enjoyable as possible is integral to encouraging long-term adherence.  

“From amateur to pro level there's just not that knowledge yet,” said Abbott. “It's very different in traditional sport, where you've been brought up through an academy.” These support structures don't exist in esports in the same way, which is causing a lot of people to learn on the fly. Giving educational tips and tools on how to maintain healthy habits is essential. If we give these tools exposure on where players congregate – often on Twitter and Instagram – then the knowledge can spread faster. 

Futuresource research into esports in education covers the broad spectrum of the industry. From higher education to K-12 to inclusivity and safeguarding in esports, our output provides those navigating the market with the information needed to thrive. To enquire about our market research in this space, please get in touch with Anjum at 

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Olivia Lowden

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Olivia Lowden

Olivia Lowden is responsible for the long-form content, press, and partnerships at Futuresource. Prior to her career at Futuresource, she completed an MA in Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia, demonstrative of her lifelong love of words.

Melanie Tagg

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Melanie Tagg

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