Teacher and Stress Reliever: From Sonic to Valorant

For most of my life, video games have played a major role. From a young age, video games have been a key part of my hobbies, online content consumption, and identity. When I was 6, my dad handed down his SEGA Genesis, a gaming console released 13 years prior, with a copy of Sonic the Hedgehog and Streets of Rage 2. As time passed, I expanded both my console and games library. But even now, 14 years later, I still return to those two games to see if I can get a little further than I did last time as I’ve never beaten either to this day. 

But as I have gotten older, video games are less something I’m able to spend my day doing, and more so something I have to squeeze into my schedule. Esports, or organized competitive video gaming (Jenny et al., 2017), has found a nice little niche in my daily routine. Lately, after I’ve finished my work and meetings for the day, I’ll hop into a few rounds of the esports video game Valorant. Typically, an “unranked” match first to warm up, then I get into a few competitive matches to try and raise my rank. This has quickly become one of my favorite ways to unwind (i.e., de-stress), and there may be some psychological reasons why this is. 

For one, esports satisfy a human need for competition, which is in this case defined as “head-to-head competition involving striving for power in open groups” (Weiss, 2011, p. 574). Esports can be a way for people to scratch the itch of wanting to compete against others without needing to expend high amounts of physical energy. Moreover, when surveying professional esports players, Weiss saw that the desire of competition positively impacted esports use. Other motives of esports professional players in this study included the challenge of gaining fame within the esports community, as well as escapism from one’s personal life. 

But that’s the professional level, which my “Iron” ranking in Valorant is certainly nowhere near as this is the lowest competitive ranking in the game. But since I’m still attempting to grind through ranks, would it at some point not be fun anymore and instead feel like work? Banyai and colleagues (2018) argue that: “it would appear that esport is a serious leisure activity that players enjoy and that some players can develop themselves during the process of becoming professional gamers” (p. 10). Video games can teach you how to fail, often. As a kid, I died within the game many times when trying to overcome the first boss of Sonic (“The Egg Wrecker”). It would be so annoying; I’d lose all my lives and have to restart the game all over again. But as I kept playing and I would get better, suddenly I stopped failing as often and I would be able to consistently beat that boss. By learning how to persevere after failure in video games, you may find it easier to keep trying in your daily life (Lillywhite, 2021).  

I think why Valorant has become so crucial in my daily routine is that it provides me with an outlet to have fun and attain my competitive desires; but also, it feels productive to my brain (i.e., mentally stimulating). I’m climbing through ranks, I’m failing, but I’m still learning. And I think it is through that process that video games will remain an important part of my life. 

This microblog post was a featured post in #slowchathealth’s #microblogmonth event. You can search for all of the featured posts here. Please do follow each of the outstanding contributors on social media (including Joshua Peters, the author of this post) and consider writing a microblog post of your own to be shared with the global audience of slowchathealth.com

Joshua Peters is a student in Dr. Seth Jenny’s ERS 304 (Current Issues in Esports Health and Society) course at Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania.

Pair this post with the following:

Student Video Samples from Online Health Education, Physical Education, and Sport Coaching Courses by Dr. Seth E. Jenny

Health-related App Analysis Assignment through the Lens of Behavior Change Theories by Dr. Seth E. Jenny

References 

Bányai, F., Griffiths, M. D., Király, O., & Demetrovics, Z. (2018). The Psychology of Esports: A Systematic Literature Review. Journal of Gambling Studies, 35(2), 351–365. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10899-018-9763-1 

Jenny, S., Manning, R. D., Keiper, M. C., & Olrich, T. W. (2017). Virtual(ly) Athletes: Where Esports Fit within the Definition of “Sport”. Quest, 69(1), 1-18. https://doi.org/10.1080/00336297.2016.1144517 

Lillywhite, M. (2021, May 31). To become more productive, play video games. Medium. Retrieved April 29, 2022, from https://medium.com/mind-cafe/to-become-more-productive-play-video-games-79e913c9167d 

Weiss, T. (2011). Fulfilling the Needs of eSports Consumers: A Uses and Gratifications Perspective. BLED 2011 Proceedings. 30. http://aisel.aisnet.org/bled2011/30 

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