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Opinion: Balancing the Joys of Gaming with Physical and Mental Well-being

By Anita Kiraly, Communications Officer, ISCA and Kyan Westerman, Intern at H20

In the universe of gaming and esports, there's a fundamental shift between treating it as a hobby and diving into the world of professionals. This transition isn't always well understood or clear. Kyan Westerman, intern at H20 in Amsterdam, discussed the issue of embracing the joy that gaming brings while prioritising overall well-being, as well as breaking free from the stereotype of sedentary gaming and finding a balance between the digital and real worlds to enhance our gaming experience.

As an enthusiastic gamer, I've come to realise that one of the biggest flaws in our gaming culture, especially among the young, is the tendency to remain glued to our screens, neglecting both our physical and mental health. For me, it has always been really important to take breaks. Let's face it, gamers often find themselves spending hours in front of the screen. I find myself in a position really often when I am just playing a game, getting angry about it and then instead of standing up and leaving, I keep playing the game getting angrier and angrier. After that I just frustratedly turn my PC off and sit on the couch being angry.

Breaking this cycle has been a game-changer. Taking breaks at peak moments in a game and returning when emotions are balanced has led to happier days. I've learned that gaming, when approached mindfully, can be a powerful tool for improving mental well-being. When you're feeling happy one day and you want to play a game and it works out just the way you want it to, it can elevate your mood for the entire day.

However, the reverse is equally true. If we dive into a game while feeling sad or angry, and the virtual experience mirrors those emotions, the consequences extend beyond the screen as the rest of the day is also going downhill. Recognizing this, I've come to appreciate the importance of maintaining both mental and physical health, even in the midst of an all-day gaming marathon. 

Integrating a workout routine into my gaming schedule has become a self-care ritual. An hour at the gym works wonders, rejuvenating me for the next gaming session. Additionally, taking a brief pause to step outside and enjoy the weather can provide a refreshing perspective, especially when the sun is shining.


Navigating the fine line: gaming as a hobby vs. esports as a profession

When we talk about traditional gaming, the kind experienced by the majority at home, it's often seen as a hobby: a leisure activity pursued in our free time. But when you think about esports, it transforms into a job, and a sport, where athletes are pros with coaches, demanding both physical and mental dedication. Playing a game as a sport comes with its own challenges and responsibilities. Unlike a casual hobby, there are consequences to the performance, as your entire life can be influenced by how well you are doing in a game. Your performance can impact your whole life, determining financial aspects like housing. And that's the really big difference between if it's seen as a hobby or your job.


Posted on 31/01/2024 by Anita Kiraly, Communications Officer, ISCA and Kyan Westerman, Intern at H20


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