eSports requires careful attention from players, families, educators, and professionals to play safely and responsibly. As the world approaches the three-year anniversary of the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Entain Foundation US announced it will conduct esports mental wellness sessions at over 450 high schools in 40 states — a campaign that includes providing support to young players who may struggle with problem gaming.
The #MindYourGame campaign will launch in November through a partnership with Intenta, a gamer behavioral health platform. According to the foundation, the campaign educates students on the benefits of esports but will also look to raise awareness of playing safely to improve mental health.
Entain Foundation US said the campaign was necessary because of the growing popularity of gaming and esports since the pandemic.
Young players turned to gaming for entertainment during the global health crisis, but they also used it to build relationships in the void created by COVID-19 lockdowns. Gaming and esports have only grown in popularity since then, but so has the number of young players with a gaming problem.
“There has been an associated rise in gaming and mental health issues: an estimated 3% of gamers suffer from gaming disorder, and 10% are at risk of problematic play,” Entain said in a November 21 statement announcing the start of the #MindYourGame campaign. “Therefore, esports requires careful attention from players, families, educators, and professionals to play safely and responsibly.”
Gaming and esports create benefits and numerous career opportunities, too. Entain said the campaign will put a spotlight on both. Some benefits cited include enhanced problem-solving skills, improved memory, and a greater engagement in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) subjects.
The campaign will also include an esports educational series called Gaming World. It will be a video series, considering the target audience of gaming enthusiasts.
“The program will share strategies for playing safely to protect and improve students’ mental health and provide support pathways for anyone struggling with problematic gaming,” Entain said, later adding that the Gaming World course will also include “tools and worksheets on reflective thinking to facilitate mindfulness. The syllabus includes how gaming affects the brain, the risks of in-game overspending, and the importance of balance in esports.”
#MindYourGame was launched one day after the Dreamhack gaming lifestyle conference concluded in Atlanta.
“We are committed to supporting initiatives that encourage responsible gambling and gaming,” said Martin Lycka, trustee of Entain Foundation US.
Lycka, who serves as senior vice president for American regulatory affairs and responsible gambling for Entain, added that “encouraging our players to actively manage their mental health is exactly the type of project we are proud to support.”
Bubba Gaeddert, executive director at Varsity Esports Federation, added that many of the over 450 high schools involved in the campaign are in low-income neighborhoods. “Their students would not normally have access to these tools and insights or receive this level of support to reach their potential through gaming and esports,” Gaeddert said.
Julie Mavrogeorge, an educator in the Fresno School District in California and the 2021-2022 National Association of Esports Coaches & Directors (NAECAD) High School Esports Director of the Year, also lauded the #MindYourGame campaign.
“Esports provides a platform to engage and educate all players — including those who are neurodiverse — on important topics such as their mental health, and leverage gaming as a source of personal and professional growth,” Mavrogeorge said.