Is drug use a problem for eSports?


Cyber-athletes and their stim-packs — it sounds so future-dystopic, but it might be a thing.

The sheer volume and mass of the competitive gaming scene, where events are often staged in massive, luminous venues and offer prize packs in the millions, is pretty high-stakes, and some competitors might be seeking an edge.

This recent, cool piece of journalism by Simon Parkin looks at how Adderall, which is commonly thought to improve alertness, concentration and mental endurance, has made its way into the competitive gaming scene, attempting to assess whether there's an issue — and, if so, how widespread it is.

After the tournament, Steven became a frequent Adderall user. "I immediately made an appointment to see my doctor and got a prescription," he says. "From then on I took the drug regularly, whenever I was playing games online and at professional competitions. I ended up getting addicted to the stuff."

Steven saw immediate benefits. He joined a Halo team and began negotiations with an official sponsor. From then on, Steven says that he would only play in tournaments while using Adderall. "It was a significantly different experience playing in a tournament while on the drug," he says. "On Adderall I would never freak out. Stress had no effect. Adrenaline can be useful in eSports, but the benefits of Adderall far outweighed them."

According to the piece, few athletes are willing to go on the record about the issue, making its scope hard to assess. The jury's still out on whether prescription stimulants could have a scandalous effect on the niche but rapidly-growing eSports scene — although it's known that Adderall abuse can be harmful to bodies, especially young ones (the window of opportunity to be competitive in fast-paced eSports games starts to close after the early 20s or so).

Looking for another interesting read about eSports? Try this New Yorker profile of Scarlett, a Canadian woman who's become a StarCraft champion, alongside the rise of eSports — which have started airing on ESPN, despite the skepticism of execs.