Video game burnout is a rather elusive phenomenon, mainly because it can be challenging to recognize. It can manifest differently in people, making it even harder to detect. An avid gamer may notice dwindling interest in games they used to spend prolonged hours on, and an esports athlete may feel exhausted, demoralized, or detached from their gaming career.
While this experience isn’t explicitly classified as a medical condition, it is a very real and significant problem for many people in the video gaming realm. The fact is, burnout in any form can affect your mental and even physical wellbeing in the long run.
You may have concerns about whether you’re experiencing video game burnout, especially if your career depends on your gaming performance. These doubts and worries are completely normal. We’ll explore the symptoms related to video game burnout and the different ways you can prevent and tackle this form of burnout.
Symptoms of Video Game Burnout
Burnout is defined as a long-term response to stressors you face during your career. According to some studies, burnout can be described using three different dimensions—exhaustion, cynicism (irritability and withdrawal), and reduced productivity (low morale and not being able to cope) .
Burnout can affect esports athletes, streamers, avid gamers, and anyone whose professional career involves some form of video gaming. You may experience symptoms such as:-
- A lack of motivation to play
- Feeling mentally drained and exhausted or experiencing physical symptoms such as headaches after gaming sessions
- Drawing yourself away from an online community you previously enjoyed
- No longer finding joy or enjoyment from gaming activities that you once loved
- Getting bored very quickly from playing video games
- Feeling immense pressure to finish the video games in your library
- Feeling stressed due to high expectations from yourself or other people to perform well
- Reduced gameplay performance and low morale
People experiencing some form of burnout are also more likely to experience insomnia, depressive symptoms, anxiety, and other issues affecting their mental wellbeing .
What can Lead to Video Game Burnout?
Video games are designed to be entertaining and appealing, but many popular titles require a high amount of energy and mental capacity for players to excel. Plus, some games are created with a steep learning curve, so you’re pushed to dedicate many hours to the game.
Sometimes, the design of the game itself can contribute to the burnout phenomenon. For instance, titles that involve a ridiculous amount of grinding (such as killing the same mobs repetitively to level up) or a highly competitive playstyle can become tedious and exhausting after some time. Add a toxic community into the mix, and you have yourself a double whammy, especially for new players.
People whose careers are intertwined with gaming may also experience video game burnout, even more so when pressured to perform. If you’re an esports athlete, a massive proportion of your day may be spent gaming and training. Additionally, you may also face pressure to enhance your gaming abilities in an excruciatingly limited amount of time when back-to-back competitions are scheduled. At this stage, video games are no longer a pastime or hobby but become your career and source of income.
The same can be said about full-time gaming content creators and esports streamers. If you’re in that field, you may sometimes feel the stress and pressure from your viewers or online communities to play a certain way or be highly skilled at a trending video game. The need to put out a constant stream of content to grow a steady viewer base can also make video gaming feel like a draining chore.
How to Prevent & Tackle Video Game Burnout
In the long run, any type of burnout can negatively impact your physical and mental health. Here are some simple ways to manage video game burnout.
- Try something different. If you have the luxury to do so, try switching to a different game genre or experimenting with different roles or character classes.
- Make sure you have enough breaks in between your gaming sessions. Try your best to slot in some protected time for rest and recharge on days that you have training or gaming sessions planned. If possible, take some days off gaming, especially if gaming forms the core of your career. Constantly training and ‘hustling’ seven days a week can quickly wear you out.
- Get adequate, quality sleep. Sleep is powerful, and research has shown that getting the optimal quantity and quality of sleep can help combat depression and anxiety and improve stress management . Hence, try to practice good sleep hygiene. This could mean having one to two hours of device-free time before bed. A device detox before bed allows your mind to clear up and facilitates the production of natural sleep hormones called melatonin.
- Don’t force yourself to continue games you don’t enjoy. This may not be a luxury for esports athletes. If you’re able to do so, fill in that time with non-gaming activities, such as getting some exercise, exploring other hobbies, or spending quality time with company you enjoy.
- Limit your playtime. Again, this may not be viable for those who game professionally. However, if you can, try to set playtime reminders that warn you if you’re going overboard with your gaming hours. You may also have alarms go off when it’s time for a break.
If you’re a professional esports athlete, you may consider letting your coach or teammates know that you’re currently experiencing video game burnout. This opens up an opportunity for you to work together and find a solution, which may, in some cases, could be a break from training or gaming.
In any circumstance, you don’t have to walk this journey alone. If you’re concerned about your mental wellbeing, it may be best to seek the advice of a trained counsellor or therapist who can walk you through the process of overcoming burnout.
Video game burnout is very real. What was once a form of entertainment and source of joy now becomes a chore to tick off your to-do list. Though video game burnout may not directly affect your physical health, it isn’t any less of an issue to address and manage.
Sometimes, you may not be able to cut down on your gaming hours or take a complete break from gaming, especially if it involves your professional career. In that case, seeking the help of a trained health professional or counsellor may be the best route to take. It’s understandably scary at times to reach out for help, but this can give you the support system and encouragement you need to do what’s best for your mental wellbeing.
Disclaimer: This is an educational post on managing video game burnout as a gamer. It should not substitute the advice given by your healthcare professional. EsportsHeadlines.com and the author of this post disclaim any liability for the decisions you make based on this information, as it is not meant for diagnostic or treatment purposes.