What is Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and how does it apply to Esports?
Abraham Maslow, Founder of Humanistic Psychology, had the assumption that human nature is good, not evil and that our natural human development involved the actualization of that very inherent goodness. Our universal human motive is self-actualization. Well, what is self-actualization? TDLR: being everything you can be.
Now, I’m not talking about the good ole United States Army’s famous slogan “Be all that you can be. Find your future in the Army.” No, no, I’m talking about truly being everything you can be by pushing yourself to be the best version of you. When it comes to mastery, Maslow’s belief coincides with the psychological needs of the individual player.
Hierarchy of Needs
- Self-actualization (being your best self)
- Esteem (respect, interactions with others, etc.)
- Love (to belong, to be accepted, affection, intimacy)
- Safety (shelter, protection)
- Physiological (or survival needs)
Reaching the peek of Maslow’s pyramid is a healthy motivation and a part of our natural behavior that is ingrained in our DNA, our psyche. This is also a motivator in the realm of competitive sports such as esports.
Hierarchy of Needs in Esports
- Self-actualization (being your best self and satisfied with your performance)
- Esteem (respect of the community, respect of our fellow competitors, how you handle pressure)
- Love (community, teammates, organization)
- Safety (finding your niche, finding your following, an organization or team)
- Physiological (setup, hardware, software)
Now, obviously this is tweaked for esports, but you can grasp the idea of how each feeds the other. As each need is met, the player can focus on their other aspects. You can’t play and compete if you do not have a rig or console. A console and/or PC is nothing without its software or game. This is the foundation for every competitive player.
Next, it is tackling the hustle and bustle of finding the correct niche as part of the safety category.
- Which games will I focus on (fighting games, shooters, RPGs)?
- Which platform will I stream on (Twitch/Mixer)?
- How will I attract followers/viewers?
- Which organization will I play for?
Love from the community, the organization, and teammates is just as crucial for any player. That love is a player’s support. That vital blood flow that reinforces why they do what they do. The reason it is so important, because it leads to esteem. It is how we view ourselves in competition and how we are viewed in the eyes of others. The pressure to be the best in our respective games may take a toll on each and every player. This is why having the lower levels in place matter.
A player is as good as their foundation. Having the right support allows a player to focus on what is important. Not needing to worry about the means to attend a competition to having time to practice with properly working equipment. Mental health comes into play here as well, but we’ll focus more on that in our next post.
Knowing you did your very best in a competition and realizing where you need to make improvements is part of self-actualization. The most important aspect of Maslow’s Hierarchy. Self-actualization leads to our mastery of skills. That is the hundreds of hours put into practicing technique, learning to use that new character and its abilities in Mortal Kombat 11.
This is what it takes to be a competitive player, to master ourselves in everything we do, and it all starts with our foundation. How you choose to get there, and with whom, is up to you.