Psychology Subjects

How have psychologists studied esports? #PSYCHOLOGY


Bányai, F., Griffiths, M. D., Király, O., & Demetrovics, Z. (2019). The Psychology of Esports : A Systematic Literature Review. Journal of Gambling Studies, 35(2), 351–365.


Recently, the skill involved in playing and mastering video games has led to the professionalization of the activity in the form of ‘esports’ (electronic sports). The aim of the present paper was to review the main topics of psychological interest about esports and then to examine the similarities of esports to professional and problem gambling. As a result of a systematic literature search, eight studies were identified that had investigated three topics: (1) the process of becoming an esport player, (2) the characteristics of esport players such as mental skills and motivations, and (3) the motivations of esport spectators. These findings draw attention to the new research field of professional video game playing and provides some preliminary insight into the psychology of esports players. The paper also examines the similarities between esport players and professional gamblers (and more specifically poker players). It is suggested that future research should focus on esport players’ psychological vulnerability because some studies have begun to investigate the difference between problematic and professional gambling and this might provide insights into whether the playing of esports could also be potentially problematic for some players.

The Data

All psychological, empirical esports psychology papers from 2010-2017, of which there are 8.


“The eight studies comprised three main topics: (i) becoming an esport player (i.e., the identity and transformation of esport players), (ii) the characteristics of esport players (mental skills, motivational patterns, etc.), and (iii) the motivations of esport spectators (i.e., why individuals watch esport).”

“there is a paucity of empirical data and further research is needed before any definitive conclusions can be made concerning the psychology of esports”

“Accepting esport as a genuine sport and the emerging popularity of this activity could lead future empirical studies to applying the tools and methodologies of sport psychology in their design”

Our Take on it

“How have psychologists studied #esports? The short answer is that not many have, especially the kinds that collect data. However, this review article discusses a nice range of topics that will be of value to further studies, setting out some key interests for researchers. Its conclusion goes off at a bit of a tangent, setting up the premise that recognition of esports as sports could permit engaging sport psychologists and their methodologies. Many sport psychologist already apply their methods to many other contexts, where the analysis of performance is of interest, irrespective of whether the activity is labelled a sport. Still, there is a wealth of expertise in sport psych that could be helpfully mobilised by the esports world and this review provides some guidance on where to start. And, in fairness, many sport scientists probably feel that esport is outside of their remit, but recognition as a sport could more effectively mobilise them, especially if there’s a way of tying it to public health”
Professor Andy Miah

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: