The Esports Industry and its Global Future

Q&A for Session #7
Sports Nutrition Symposium 5.0
Thursday June 23rd, 2022 @ 12 pm CST

Jason Chung-Symposium 5.0 Speaker

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  • Have you seen anyone address any nutritional components in the esports world? Most gamers aren't exactly known for following the greatest diet (energy drinks, microwaveable foods, fast food, etc.)
    • Jason: I've been at a few of these events where start ups or medium stage companies are providing nutrition supplements. There has been some sponsored research that they've relied on in order to find the right narrative to sell stuff, but to be honest most of the emphasis is on caffeine. A lot of times gamers will say its useless. The things most pushed are energy drinks and high levels of caffeine. I'm not a health professional but I can tell you that the current things out there are not the right message being sent. The message currently is that energy drink companies are sponsoring these athletes but I can tell you that's not what the athletes are taking. Athletes are encouraged not to drink Monster or similar. Yes, most gamers probably don't have the greatest diet but the days of gamers in basements eating Doritos and drinking Mt Dew is no longer the case. High level gamers are not doing this in today's world. You won't make it is the esports level if you're putting that in your body. Some do that but they're not completing the game. Or some will play well for the first match, but these are 3-5 matches at a time; they're not going to last and they're being driven out.
  • Is there anything being done within the industry to promote balance between the hours played (5-10 hrs/day) and maintaining a healthy active lifestyle?
    • Jason: At highest levels with the most progressive teams, yes. They are sleeping and taking time away from the screen with more directed screen time as a priority. It's hard to get people who play video games to get off of the screen. I wouldn't say addictive in the traditional sense but they are addictive experiences so people keep playing. They are over-training and over-playing is a real issue. Has the industry overall tried not to? No, not really because who is incentivized to do it? Yes, at the highest level the teams have to protect their investment in the athlete but everyone else... You want people playing, you want people doing microtransactions, the publishers want people populating their servers so it seems like a vibrant community. There is nobody really looking out for gamer health 24/7, except at the very highest level. This infrastructure is being created; not like a D1 school with a full nutrition team working for you. A lot of these teams only have 1, 2, maybe 3 coaches.
  • The critics of the more violent games today indicate there is a positive correlation between violence and large use of gaming. Do you see any connection for the current gun violence for males 18-25?
    • Jason: Show me the study. There have been very few and most of them go the other way. If it was really the case and there were documented peer-reviewed studies that said the same thing, we would have seen curbs a long time ago. What is the difference between violent shows and movies verses gaming? I think gaming is a good boogeyman but I have seen studies where people who engage in violent games have a decreased tendencies to do that stuff because they can separate it out or can get out their aggression by playing those games. I want to see consistent studies.
  • Legally speaking, what is the likelihood of the US adopting something similar to South Korea and implementing a governing body to oversee the Esport arena?
    • Jason: There's nothing preventing it, but culturally the US doesn't operate this way. South Korea is exporting culture and doing it from a government sanctioned point of view. Establishing a reputable Esports governing body is difficult. Trying to organize people in Esports is incredibly difficult.
  • I would imagine that e-sports athletes are not open to lifestyle changes. From my experience, most gamers do not really care about their health. What is your opinion on the athlete’s receptiveness to nutrition intervention?
    • Jason: Most people are not motivated by nutrition and health. That's the hard part. At the elite levels, of course they will be motivated by their team. Most gamers are not at that level just like most people who play traditional sports are not at that level. It really comes down to who is participating and who is marketing to this group. My fear in this group is they are being aggressively marketed to by energy drink companies/food and beverage companies with snack bars of energy drinks, chips, coffee, etc., because that's what people think gamers like. So it takes an education process and its important to put the right information in front of them. Just like most people, they're not going to know what anything is.
  • What about the MIND diet or Creatine for cognitive function?
    • Tavis: Creatine, yes for cognitive function. MIND diet: unsure what the diet consists of.
  • Are you familiar with studies done on focus and gaming with the supplement Alpha Glyceryl Phosphoryl Choline (A-GPC)? Trade name is Alphasize by Cheminutra.
    • Tavis: Alphasize has been around a long time and they also have phosphatidylserine; great company, high quality materials. I just started looking at this a few months ago and looking at what is available on the nutrition side. I haven't seen anything around this on Alpha-GPC. I think its a fascinating nutrient and important to use choline because its typically something we are deficient in, but you can eat some eggs. At the same time I think its a great supplement, but I haven't seen anything along that line when it comes to gamers.
  • Seems like there are a lot of biases and stereotyping/discrimination when it comes to this population.
    • Jason: Absolutely, everyone thinks of the South Park episode of the guy in the basement eating Doritos and drinking energy drinks. Some are still like that but there are a lot of people that like energy drinks, etc. I'm constantly dealing with that sterotype but then I ask the same question to everybody, "Do you have a cell phone? Have you ever played Candy Crush? You're a gamer." This is a $160 billion industry meaning half the globe or more play some form of video game at some point. There are different degrees of gamers: casual or competitive. At the top, professional athletes are getting looked after, collegiate athletes are kind of, high school athletes to a certain extent, but if you're casually playing pick-up games at the park, its a mixed bag; its the same thing with video games and esports. Some people aspire to be pros but not put in the effort in nutrition, where some people are casual and put in so much effort in their nutrition and health. It really requires education for what people need in their chosen profession.