Highly obese players perform better in long-term esports competitions

(ORDO NEWS) — Scientists from the National Research University Higher School of Economics and the Norwegian University of Science and Technology compared the success in e-sports of players of different weight categories.

While obesity generally has a negative impact on esports success, highly obese esports players outperform their rivals from a certain point when it comes to long-term tournaments.

The results are published in the International Journal of Obesity. Read more in the material IQ.HSE. Obesity and overweight have become one of the global health problems of modern people.

Thus, according to WHO, in 2016, 39 percent of adults in the world were overweight, and about 13 percent were obese. And this is a growing trend.

“Obesity is a complex social problem, since it directly affects overweight people and the attitude of society towards them,” the authors of the study , Petr Parshakov , Yulia Naidenova , Arthur Assansky and Cornel Nessler, note in their article.

Researchers believe that using data from the esports industry has its advantages: you can track the results of players, the duration of games, and so on. All this is in the public domain, as well as photos of tournament participants.

In essence, the authors explain, this is an opportunity for a quasi-experiment (when the experimenter does not influence the participants or the conditions of the experiment).

Such data is problematic to collect in other areas, such as engineering, design, or analytics, where people on a computer perform repetitive tasks of varying duration.

The source of data for scientists was a special resource aggregating statistics on all CS:GO games and championships.

The authors collected photos of 821 players and their individual results for the period from 2012 to 2020. The number of photos for each esportsman varied from one to four. In total, the sample included 127,533 cases with game data and participant results.

To estimate BMI from player profile photos, the authors used a special artificial intelligence technology that had previously been tested in research experiments.

It turned out that the effect of BMI is negatively associated with the results of the players, that is, being overweight contributes to their deterioration. In the course of the regression analysis, however, it was possible to establish that this applies primarily to players with a high degree of obesity – III.

Their performance, according to the researchers, is on average 12.8 percent lower than the rest. The results of overweight people and those in obesity groups I and II do not differ from the results of players with a normal BMI.

Interestingly, the detected effect decreases with each additional round. “On average, players with the highest BMI perform worse than those with lower BMI, but the difference decreases as game length increases,” the authors explain.

It turned out that in the case of the longest matches, the players with severe obesity outperformed everyone else in the results.

This is in line with the findings of previous studies . One study showed that obese children were able to gamble significantly longer than normal weight children.

Although the focus of the current work is not gambling, nevertheless, cybersportsmen also have a chance to receive incentives to continue playing at frequent intervals, that is, won rounds, the authors explain.

The increasing efficiency of people with grade III obesity in performing long-term tasks may be associated, according to scientists, with higher impulsivity, which is considered one of the causes of obesity, as well as gambling addiction.

Another explanation could be that obese people consume more calories, which helps them cope with long tasks.

It also found that people with high BMI generally perform worse in the case of a live tournament format. “Because live events differ from online events in terms of the presence of the public and higher prestige, the explanation for this difference may be social pressure and negative attitudes towards overweight players,” the authors comment.

According to them, this could mean either that there is discrimination against participants with obesity, or that other players are more emotionally strong.

The study allows us to assess in more detail the impact of obesity on activities associated with the use of computer technology, but (almost) not requiring physical activity.

There are many works that focus on explaining why a normal weight helps in various activities. But at the same time, there is a lack of scientific data on the effect of excess weight on various activities and the reasons for this effect.

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