The rise of esports in India has been nothing short of meteoric. The nation’s talented athletes competed at the Asian Games 2022 where Esports was an official medal sport, BGMI tournaments have made their way to the mainstream sporting networks and streaming platforms while gamers have become household names, inspiring a new generation of players to chase their dreams.
With Esports and gaming growing from niche hobbies to an official, multi-sporting phenomenon in the nation, the spotlight often focuses on competition, prize money, skill, and fame. However, behind the scenes of this rapidly growing sector lies a critical aspect that is not spoken about that often – mental health.
The constant pressure to perform at the highest level, coping with intense competition, and enduring nationwide criticism can affect even the most skilled athletes and gamers. On this World Mental Health Day, it’s essential to address the challenge of balancing passion and mental well-being. We can draw valuable insights from some of the gaming industry’s prominent figures, helping individuals thrive in the world of gaming while also prioritizing their mental health.
Mental wellbeing as crucial as physical health
Animesh Agarwal aka 8Bit Thug, Founder and CEO, 8Bit Creatives and Co-Founder of S8UL says, “World Mental Health Day reminds us that taking care of our mental well-being is as crucial as our physical health. In the gaming industry, where athletes have to perform when the stakes are high and streamers have to consistently entertain their audience for long hours, it is essential to prioritize mental health and seek support when needed. At 8Bit Creatives, we actively encourage our talent to take care of their mental health. We believe that a healthy mind is the cornerstone of success, not just in gaming but also in life.”
An independent study conducted by the Mental Health Organization stated that players commonly said the experience of playing longer than intended had a negative impact on their mental well-being.
Sharing his insights on navigating the mental health challenges in Esports for emerging gamers, Harsh Paudwal, also known as Soul Goblin, a prominent figure in the Indian gaming scene who led Team SOUL to victory in the first season of the Battlegrounds Mobile Pro India Series (BMPS) Season 1 and earned the Most Valuable Player (MVP) title, stated, “Competing at the highest level of Esports comes with immense pressure as your every move is scrutinised and every decision counts. Consequently, you spend hours of practice on end to improve your gameplay and to achieve perfection. To tackle this, the most important thing is to focus on staying in the present and not dwelling on past mistakes or worrying about the future. It is pivotal to remember that burnout is a real threat. Step away from the screen, clear your mind, and engage in activities that recharge your mental batteries.”
Key to take breaks
With over 5.4 million followers on Instagram and more than 7.01 million subscribers on YouTube, Naman Mathur, widely known as Mortal, is a trailblazer in the streaming and gaming influencer landscape in India. Acknowledged as the face of Indian gaming, he offers his guidance on finding the ideal equilibrium between a gaming career and personal life.
Naman Mathur, Co-Founder of S8UL, highlights, “Esports and streaming can be mentally taxing. So, it is key to take breaks while grinding and setting dedicated time slots for pursuing your passion. One should pick an outdoor sport of their choice and play it regularly as it relaxes the mind as well as the body. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle with regular exercise and proper sleep of a minimum of six hours is vital to keep your mental health and performance in check.”
A survey of 4,000 gamers in the United Kingdom, conducted by Sky Broadband, revealed that over half (52%) of women in gaming admit to feeling worried about abuse when playing video games online while one-in-ten (11%) of women respondents are left feeling suicidal.
Be confident and passionate
Kaashvi Hiranandani aka Kaash Plays, a renowned female gamer in India managed by 8Bit Creatives, has successfully shattered gender stereotypes in the gaming industry, and offers her insights on managing online harassment and trolling in the gaming sector.
She advises, “As a female gamer, I have encountered my share of challenges, from gender bias to online harassment. My advice to fellow female gamers is to be confident and unapologetically passionate about gaming. Surround yourself with a positive community that uplifts you. Don’t let stereotypes or negativity deter you; rather, use it as fuel to prove them wrong.”
The need to address mental health issues within the gaming community is undeniable. The challenges faced by gamers, both on and off-screen, are real, and they require thoughtful consideration.