How Esports Could Contribute to Video Game Addiction

Esports are multiplayer video games that are played competitively. It may be hard to believe, but esports—the playing of video games competitively—have become increasingly accepted as a legitimate sport. In the same way that students can earn scholarships to play physical sports, like soccer, basketball, and so forth, numerous academic institutions are now beginning to give scholarships for esports.

Among many, the University of California Irvine and Miami University have begun offering scholarships for esports.

Video games, believe it or not, have become varsity sports.

According to a Newzoo report, the revenue for esports is projected to grow to as much as 1.5 billion USD by 2020. Accordingly, 300 million people are expected to have an interest in esports. This means that from 2017 (when the Newzoo report was published), the yearly growth of the esports economy is expected to be 41.3.

Esports is growing at an unparalleled rate.

Video games, however, are designed to be addictive, in the medical sense of the term. Video game companies exploit natural human tendencies to maximize the emotional and time investment that players naively are unaware of to optimize their profits. The longer someone plays a video game, and the more they care about the video game, the more money these people earn.

To do this, video games take advantage of a psychological phenomenon called a compulsion loop. This term describes our innate goal-oriented mindset. By making progress in the video game, the makers subject the player into a cycle—greater progress leaves the player with a greater dopaminergic award. We are a creature of habit, so when we go through a series of tasks repeatedly, they become a natural instinct to us. Our mind goes into autopilot when we do them repetitively—the act becomes an unconscious behavior to us. In the same sense, when people undergo a compulsion loop (that is, they keep making progress and receiving dopamine or another form of reward), that behavior becomes unconscious, and the cycle continues.

Esports is nothing but an exploitation of people’s habit-forming tendencies to make profit. By making esports a legitimized varsity sport, academic institutions are encouraging video game addiction.

While not all video game players can or will be addicted, there is always still some likelihood. However, the outcomes of internet gaming disorder can be severe on both a person’s social and personal life, so we should be cautious.

The emergence of esports as a “sport” is encouraging our youth to fall into video game addiction.

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