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Colton Balske

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The Ludosalus Dissonance of eSports

Many of us are familiar with the term “Ludonarrative Dissonance“, a concept coined by Clint Hocking of LucasArts to describe the conflict that can be found in video games in which the narrative or storyline of a video game does not match the actual game play within. In relation to this concept we here at Health eSports are identifying an ever growing “Ludosalus Dissonance”, in which there is an extreme lack of balance between the health of our avatars in game play and the health of our actual selves.

Esports and video games in general provide us with great enjoyment, social interaction, creative thinking skills and many other benefits to our daily lives. With that said, its hard to argue that there aren’t a number of significant health issues that coincide with long bouts at the computer (3+ hours per day), such as deep vein thrombosis, computer vision syndrome, and carpal tunnel syndrome, to name a few. The problem is that like in any other sport, in order to be a serious eSports athelete or gamer you have to put in long hours of practice. Whether you are playing Call of Duty, FIFA, Overwatch, DOTA 2, or League of Legends, if you want to build a great avatar, team, or campaign, you need to spend some considerable time learning and increasing your skills. This is rewarding and stimulating, but in general requires long hours at the computer, and therein lies the Ludosalus Dissonance (ludosalus being a compound of ludology and the latin word salus for “good health”).

The usual response to Ludosalus Dissonance is to encourage people to “take breaks”, and includes the use of things like timers or really angry parents/girlfriends/boyfriends/spouses. Unfortunately, I think we all know that those external types of controls are only so effective. Given the demands of leveling up, completing a campaign, or just having way too much fun, those admonishments eventually lose their criticality in terms of setting the controller down and doing some push-ups. The only way to really get people moving will be for either game makers or hardware developers to install time outs or incentives of their own for having a player take a break. These are inventive people and we bet they can think of some pretty cool ways to encourage player health. After all, if they want people to continue to buy and play their games, then they need to keep them healthy enough to do so.

VR certainly holds some promise in increasing the amount of physicality in game play and we’ve seen what the likes of Pokemon Go can do in getting people outside and moving. In between those lines we need to get creative on how we can encourage eSports athletes and gamers to watch their own health levels as much as they do their avatars. Let’s hear from you eSports and gaming enthusiasts, what are some ways we can decrease Ludosalus Dissonance?