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If you’ve ever played a video game, you know it can be pretty stressful. That especially goes for multiplayer games that are fast-paced or involve lots of strategizing. But e-sports don’t hold a candle to traditional sports when it comes to an athlete’s mental toughness, right?
A new study from the University of Queensland, home to Australia’s first official university-endorsed esports program, found that elite gamers may have the same mental toughness and stamina seen in top Olympic athletes.
Researchers studied 316 esports players aged 18 and over who were ranked in the top 40 percent of players. They found that those elite gamers appear to cope with stressors similarly to elite athletes, and gamers who were ranked higher tended to be mentally tougher.
“Similar to traditional sports athletes, esports athletes with higher mental toughness employed more problem-focused coping strategies which aided in their success,” QUT esports researcher Dylan Poulus said in a release. He added that they also seemed to use more emotion-focused coping strategies as they played, like accepting elements of the game that were beyond their control.
“Everything we see in sports psychology interventions that work with traditional sports is likely going to work with esports athletes,” he said.
Considering esports events can draw tens of millions of views online, it makes sense that it’s stressful to play at the elite level. Plus, people have literally become millionaires playing video games, so there’s a lot on the line for these players. In case you’re wondering, the gamers in the study played Overwatch, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Rainbow Six: Siege, Defence of the Ancients 2 and League of Legends competitively.
While the researchers have figured out that esports players are mentally tough and use similar strategies to do well under pressure, more research is needed to pinpoint what factors, exactly, cause that pressure for top-level esports players.