Playing with fire

New research released this week from the University of Queensland has revealed that esports is the latest digital domain where participants are immersed in alcohol advertising.

The study reportedly found that heavy gamers are more likely to purchase the alcohol brands that sponsor online the games they play or watch and are more likely to consume more alcohol when gaming.

Reportedly, addicted and heavy gamers (those who play or watch three to four days per week or more) drink more heavily and more frequently than casual gamers.

“Esports is rapidly becoming the largest entertainment industry in the world, with an audience of 500 million globally and more than $1 billion in revenue annually,” said lead researcher from the University of Queensland, Associate Professor, Sarah Jane Kelly.

“Although competitive online gaming is still emerging in Australia, with an audience of four million people, our study has found esports is already a highly successful environment for alcohol companies to reach minors and young adults.”

It has been said that producers of dangerous and unhealthy commodities, such as alcohol, are targeting and exploiting this new, young and vulnerable audience due to explosive growth and investment, and zero regulation.

“Esports could be brought into the sports tent and subject to all the rules and conventions that apply to ‘recognised’ sports. That is not in of itself a replacement for effective government regulation, but certainly worthy of consideration,” added Associate Professor Kelly.

Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE) Chief Executive, Michael Thorn added: “Our digital environments, which now include esports, are inundated with covert, ungated marketing, giving alcohol companies unrestricted contact with children and adolescents.

“The lack of legal protections to stop alcohol companies and digital platforms directly targeting vulnerable people, especially children, is a grave concern.”

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