eSports and Modafinil
eSports, or in more colloquial terms “competitive video gaming”, is a booming industry. Estimates put it at over $500 million annually. In eSports, live events host gamers from around the world competing at the highest levels for the most popular games.
While it may seem surreal to think of someone as a professional video game player, it’s possible to earn over $100,000 a year this way. The prizes come from advertisers who take advantage of the huge online streaming community, as well as sponsors. While only a few thousand people may attend an actual event, another 10 million may be watching online. But that prize pool is limited to just a handful of players, with only about 60 taking home more than $100k a year.
Modafinil in the world of eSports
Just as we’ve seen in universities and even workplaces, modafinil can be used to get a step ahead of the competition. Video games demand constant attention and focus, especially since most of the competitive games are first-person shooters or sports games in which a tenth of a second can mean a loss. Adderall and Ritalin have been widely used but modafinil has been spotted more recently as studies show that it is safer than taking amphetamine-based pills.
Practice sessions can often go for hours a day. For the full-time competitive gamer, it’s no different than your regular 9-5 job. Again, modafinil can improve your ability to stay focused on these long practice runs.
The eSports league bans Modafinil
Modafinil was banned from athletic events by the World Anti-Doping Agency after several track and field and cycling competitors used it to gain an advantage. The Electronic Sports League, or ESL, decided to adopt the Anti-Doping Agency’s list of banned substances for its events last year, and since then drug tests are administered randomly to participants in ESL sanctioned events. A cheek swab picks up traces of the banned substances.
Is it fair to ban modafinil from eSports?
As this blog has discussed in the past, there are ethical issues with modafinil in different fields. I have argued in the past that taking modafinil for an advantage in the workplace or in schools is perfectly acceptable because you are not harming anyone else or taking anything away from another person.
But sports is a different story. One of the reasons we universally admire athletes is because their natural talent and ability is so far beyond ours that we can only stand in awe, impressed. When LeBron James leaps up and slam dunks a ball, or when Messi blasts a free kick into the corner of the net, we know without a doubt that we could never do that, and it amazes us. Doping detracts from this as the ability gained is not entirely natural.
eSports is similar. Many people dismiss eSports as child’s play but the growing industry shows that it is in fact a serious venture. And its players should be subject to rules. Modafinil and other nootropics would actually give an eSports player a bigger benefit than someone in traditional physical sports.
Using modafinil to practice is not illegal according to the ESL. Drug tests are not given except at events. I think this is an acceptable way to improve your skills. But if you’re going to compete in any events, abide by the laws at hand.
Still, it’s amazing to see just how many places modafinil has crept into. Wherever there’s competition, someone will be seeking an advantage, and it’s clear that modafinil does provide an advantage in eSports.