India has witnessed a remarkable growth of Esports in recent years, with talented athletes representing the country at the Asian Games 2022, where Esports was an official medal sport. BGMI tournaments have also gained popularity and exposure as gamers have become celebrities and role models for aspiring players. However, the glamorous side of Esports and gaming often overshadows a crucial aspect that affects many gamers and streamers—mental health.
“World Mental Health Day reminds us that taking care of our mental well-being is as crucial as our physical health”: Animesh “8Bit Thug” Agarwal
The competitive nature of Esports and gaming, the high expectations from fans and sponsors, and the harsh criticism from online trolls can take a toll on the mental well-being of even the most skilled and experienced players. On this World Mental Health Day, addressing this challenge and learning how to balance passion and mental health is important. To do so, one can look at some of the insights and tips from some of the leading figures in the Indian gaming industry.
Here’s what Animesh Agarwal, popularly known as 8Bit Thug, Founder and CEO of 8Bit Creatives and Co-Founder of S8UL, has to say:
“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.
Harsh Paudwal, also known as Soul Goblin, is 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. He shared his insights on navigating the mental health challenges in Esports for emerging gamers. He stated,
“Competing at the highest level of Esports comes with immense pressure as your every move is scrutinized 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.”
Naman Mathur, better known as Mortal, is one of India’s most popular and successful streamers and gamers, with millions of followers on social media platforms. He advises gamers to find a balance between their gaming career and personal life, take breaks, and pursue other hobbies and interests. Mortal, who is the Co-Founder of S8UL, also 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.”
Sky Broadband surveyed 4,000 gamers in the United Kingdom, revealing that over half (52%) of women in gaming admit to feeling worried about abuse when playing video games online. At the same time, one in ten (11%) of women respondents are left feeling suicidal.
Kaashvi Hiranandani, aka Kaash Plays, a renowned female gamer in India managed by 8Bit Creatives, has successfully shattered gender stereotypes in the gaming industry. She offered her insights on managing online harassment and trolling in the gaming sector. Here’s what Kaash Plays advised:
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.”
Mental health issues are real and serious and should not be ignored or stigmatized in the gaming community. Gamers should seek professional help if they feel overwhelmed or depressed, and they should also support each other and create a positive and respectful environment. By doing so, they can enjoy their passion for gaming while also taking care of their mental well-being.