Weber State researchers study impact of esports on physical, cognitive abilities

Mar 14, 2024, 6:57 PM | Updated: 7:20 pm

OGDEN — Weber State University has a new lab, dedicated to video gaming. The lab is being used to study how that form of entertainment impacts us, physically and mentally.

It’s run through the Department of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences which believes video games are both bad and good for us. The goal is to find out how to strike a healthy balance.

Many people may not consider gamers who play esports athletes, but that’s what they’re called. People like Nathan Roznos who has a scholarship for his skills in Rocket League.

He practices a lot.

“Well it depends, it depends upon days, but most of the time,  hours a day for years at this point,” Roznos said.

Researchers at Weber State University want to know what kind of impact that has. Bryan Dowdell is one of the researchers.

“And so if gamers are sitting sedentary for hours on end, which understandably is pretty common nowadays, what are the potential risk factors involved with that,” he said.

Roznos on the treadmill

Nathan Roznos has a scholarship to Weber State for his skills in Rocket League. He is on a treadmill that is helping gather data for the study on the physical and mental impact of gaming. (Mike Anderson, KSL TV)

Dowdell is an associate professor in exercise and nutrition science and is looking into esports‘ physical and stress-related impacts.

It’s a study that will take subjects out of the gaming chair and onto the treadmill to compare the physical fitness of people who game and who do not.

They are also looking for positive effects.

Bryan Dowdell is an associate professor in exercise and nutrition science at Weber State. He is working on a study to find out more about the physical and stress-related impacts of gaming. (Mike Anderson, KSL TV)

“We know there’s improved cognitive capacity, improved fine-tuned motor skills,” Dowdell said.

Researchers use a high-tech machine to test reactions to sudden changes and shifts. It will also help test multitasking skills. Dowdell said, “E-sports is kind of an emerging research area right now.”

He said it’s important to learn these things in part because of the growing popularity of esports.

“We can start to develop guidelines for competitive gamers specifically so gamers are part of our varsity sports club,” he added. Something that’s important for the athletes too. You don’t want to overdo it.

“I think moreso just intrigued me more than anything,” Roznos said.

Dowdell said eventually the study will look at virtual-reality gaming to see how a training program can help more traditional athletes train in their sports.

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Weber State researchers study impact of esports on physical, cognitive abilities