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PC Games (Games)

WCG Tournament Director Admits Drugs In E-Sports 448

SlappingOysters writes "In the lead up to the World Cyber Games finals in Germany, Gameplayer has an incredible interview with Tournament Director Alex Walker in which he freely admits knowledge of participants taking illegal drugs to enhance their performance. The interview came in response to a previous article by the site in which they examined whether there was a need to bring drug testing into professional gaming events to ensure a level playing field. Walker said, 'I've seen a number of players at national tournaments who came in "baked" (that's stoned for the uninformed) purely so they could play better. In most cases they did, although obviously they couldn't just pull out another joint midway through. In one WCG, a player I knew took amphetamines an hour before his match to boost his reflexes.'"
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WCG Tournament Director Admits Drugs In E-Sports

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  • by eldavojohn ( 898314 ) * <(eldavojohn) (at) (> on Thursday August 28, 2008 @09:45AM (#24778501) Journal

    'I've seen a number of players at national tournaments who came in "baked" (that's stoned for the uninformed) purely so they could play better. In most cases they did ...

    Um, I'm not a regular drug user but how are the effects of Cannabis [] beneficial to gaming?

    Acute effects while under the influence include euphoria, increased appetite, anxiety, short-term memory loss, and circulation effects which may increase risks of heart attacks.

    I understand how drugs that affect your nervous system -- like uppers -- can increase your reaction time and muscle twitching for those games involving twitch skills. And nobody can shred on a guitar like an coked up hair band [] ... but how does a drug that made my college roommate double up in laughter and fail at communication make someone better at video games?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Calms you down a bit so you're less nervous perhaps?

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      My guess is focus. On some games, if you become too focused, it is easier to make a mistake. If marijuana assists their ability to do abstraction then it could be beneficial.

      Another example might be a scenario where being tense is worse than the loss of dexterity incurred from being slightly stoned. The best example I could come up with, for myself, is sniping. I do better at sniping (and instagibbing) moving targets when I relax and anticipate my enemies moves. If I was extremely tense (due to a money comp

      • by gnick ( 1211984 ) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @11:21AM (#24779903) Homepage

        That sounds like a reasonable explanation if you're assuming that they really are trying to improve gameplay through the effects of the drug. I haven't toked up in ~7 years, but I used to game stoned a lot. I was convinced that it improved my focus and can't entirely throw that assessment away now - I would get lost in the game. Maybe being stoned helped, maybe not - I never did any kind of comparison 'cuz I'd toke up before playing every single time.

        Perhaps a more likely cause for smoking before playing tournament though:
        * A lot of games (most?) are just more fun stoned.
        * It's easy to game for endless hours while you're baked.
        * If you play for a huge amount of time, you're going to get good (baked or not).
        * If all of your experience with the game was spent stoned, you're going to want to be in the same state of mind while competing that you were when "practicing".
        * So, you smoke before a tournament and achieve the same level of success that you've experienced at home.

    • by faloi ( 738831 ) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @09:53AM (#24778615)
      but how does a drug that made my college roommate double up in laughter and fail at communication make someone better at video games?

      Best guess? If you spend all your free time practicing the game while high, you're more accustomed to playing it that way. Playing it when you're not high entails a different playing experience to overcome. Not so much that smoking a joint helped them play better because of the effects of the drug, but it got them to a more "normal" state to play the game.
      • by OG ( 15008 ) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @10:11AM (#24778909)

        Yep, it's called state-dependent learning [].

      • by Woundweavr ( 37873 ) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @10:13AM (#24778937)

        Most recreational drugs are recreational because they produce an altered state of consciousness. Alcohol does the same thing. If you study a subject (say physics) while intoxicated, your recall of the material will be higher when intoxicated. It stands to reason that a similar phenomenon could exist with video games. They practice stoned so they play better stoned.

        I'm not sure if that really counts as a "performance enhancing drug" though.

        • by Hektor_Troy ( 262592 ) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @12:36PM (#24780957)

          Well, I think of cannabis like a performance equalizing drug - not performance enhancement.

          Consider Ross Rebagliati [] from the Winter Olympics in Nagano who won gold in snowboarding (giant slalom) and was then disqualified for smoking weed. There is absolutly no way what so ever that cannabis will have made him a BETTER athlete during the games - all it could have done was make the other athletes relatively better (compared to him). Hence performance equalizing drug.

          The fact that he could outperform the non-stoned athletes while being stoned himself is quite impressive. They should have given him a second medal (give him gold AND silver) instead of taking gold away. To be fair they did overturn that decision, but the point still stands.

          Yes, it's an illegal drug in most places, and I suppose they should crack down on that to force the athletes to be "positive rolemodels", but I can't help but wonder what would happen if the same thing were to happen in a championship taking place in Holland. In that case you can't just disqualify on the grounds that the drug is illegal (because it's not), and it's obviously (well, maybe not scientificly) not a performance enhancing drug ... so what grounds would be used? "It's bad for you"?

      • by sm62704 ( 957197 )

        I always played Road Rash while drinking, and when I had a good beer buzz on I played better. But beer is legal. TFS talks of illegal drugs, WTF does "legal" have to do with it? What if I was prescribed a performance enhansing drug for a medical condition? The "illegal" drug would then be legal.

        • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @11:18AM (#24779857)

          Actually, in "normal" sports, illegal or legal means jack. Official sports events have a (quite long) list of substances that must not be found in your samples or you're disqualified. That list includs quite legal substances (caffeine, above certain levels) and over the counter medicine (some cold meds).

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Krinsath ( 1048838 )
      I don't know for certain, but one would imagine that the competition level at such an event would put a tremendous amount of stress on someone, especially a gamer who is probably does not have an audience outside of fellow players normally. Much like in athletic sports when a professional makes one mistake in the actual game it generally snowballs into more and more of them simply due to the pressure that being on that stage causes (hence why they always say to have a short memory). In that regard, I can se
    • by garett_spencley ( 193892 ) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @10:03AM (#24778767) Journal

      And nobody can shred on a guitar like an coked up hair band

      That's quite true. Non-coked up guitarists are reduced to performing music.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by kieran ( 20691 )

      Drugs affect people differently, and people attribute all sorts of effects to them, accurately or otherwise. Where there is a marked improvement on cannabis, however, I suspect it's mostly because the gamer is simply accustomed to playing that way.

    • Concentration. Being baked has the effect on some people, that they will be better able to concentrate on 1 single task. The roof may collapse, but they will score the frag.

    • by TheRealMindChild ( 743925 ) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @10:14AM (#24778947) Homepage Journal
      This is one of those cases where, people writing the articles on "The effects of Cannabis", probably have no real experience with it. This isn't a troll, or some crazy delusion. Just follow me for a second.

      Cannabis can certainly be beneficial in not only "gaming", but anything where there is undo pressure on you. The calming effect on your nerves, on your racing mind, on your anxiety can potentially be much more of a positive than the "bad side effects" are negative.

      Don't believe the propaganda.
    • Makes the game more enjoyable and helps prevent tilt.
    • You've never played Mindball [], have you?

    • by pak9rabid ( 1011935 ) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @10:20AM (#24779025)

      Um, I'm not a regular drug user but how are the effects of Cannabis [] beneficial to gaming?

      Easy, THC (the active ingredient in Cannabis) causes your neurons to release large supplies of the neurotransmitter dopamine [] into your synapses. Dopamine is responsible for helping your concentration. The idea is you're able to keep your focus much easier and concentrate on completing the task at hand in the game. For an experienced Cannabis user, this effect does in fact provide better gaming performance. I wouldn't recommend it for an inexperienced Cannabis user, however, as it can be quite disorienting for someone not used to it.

    • by dave562 ( 969951 )
      It relaxes the body and for some people actually increases their levels of concentration/ability to focus. The effects could be considered similar to Xanax or some other anti-anxiety drugs.
    • by Chyeld ( 713439 ) <> on Thursday August 28, 2008 @10:30AM (#24779185)

      You should talk to Ellen Feiss. I'm sure she could shed some light into the advantages of being baked while using a computer.

    • by whoda ( 569082 )
      That's why you don't believe everything you read on Wikipedia.
    • by Hatta ( 162192 )

      Easy, it helps you get in "the zone". You stop thinking so much, and start just acting. Most games you don't want to overanalyze what's going on, second guessing yourself can be fatal. Cannabis helps relax you and lets you just go with the flow. Really, any kind of mindless work is made much easier with a little herb in your system.

    • by KefabiMe ( 730997 ) <[moc.ronohj] [ta] [htrag]> on Thursday August 28, 2008 @10:59AM (#24779583) Journal

      I'm a past stoner. I still toke up every once in a while.

      When people think of twitch gaming, they usually think of frantic gaming. Top players know that this isn't the case. A noob CounterStrike player shoots wildly. If cross hairs aren't over an enemy, why shoot? The noob ends up just missing and missing because whenever his cross hairs happen to cross an enemy, his gun is in between shots.

      Top players know that it is better to wait a split second for the enemy to float across the cross hairs before pulling the trigger. For truly great gaming performance, the player must be in a "zen" like state, not a frantic twitch state.

      Toking up can help a player reach this zen state, become immersed in the game, and oblivious to outside distractions. Of course non-potheads would probably be "ZOMG So high!" but for someone who smokes daily getting high is a calming state.

  • To What End? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Cryophallion ( 1129715 ) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @09:49AM (#24778545)

    While I think illicit drugs should definitely be banned, as always we have to ask what extent does this go to?

    I can get in there and hook up a coffee/Red Bull IV, and do almost as much damage to my body as taking dexedrine. So they ban caffeine, which means no moutain dew, and we know mountain dew is one of the nectars of the gods.

    As soon as you start eliminating caffeine, we get to the point that they can't take cold medicine before a tourney as it will show up as a drug.

    As soon as money and egos get involved, people will look for any advantage they can get. I think drugs should be outlawed, but that the organizers need to be realistic, and understand that anything in excess can be harmful, and that a well rounded approach is necesary

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by meringuoid ( 568297 )
      While I think illicit drugs should definitely be banned

      There's no 'should' about it. Illicit drugs are banned by definition - that's what 'illicit' means. Legalise all drugs and suddenly there's no such thing as an illicit drug.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by sm62704 ( 957197 )

      While I think illicit drugs should definitely be banned


      I think drugs should be outlawed


    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Hatta ( 162192 )

      Illicit drugs should be legalized, at which point the gamers association will have nothing to prohibit. Problem solved.

  • joint ? (Score:2, Redundant)

    by Arthur B. ( 806360 )

    Amphetamines make perfect sense, as would caffeine but I highly doubt cannabis would be beneficial.

    • AMP crash! (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Redfeather ( 1033680 )
      Amphetamines carry an even more debilitating crash than most stimulants. Imagine what happens if, when stuck against a superior competitor who is not drugged, the matches run longer than the duration of the drugs? Final round failure is annoying, but final round narcolepsy? That just proves you're an idiot.
  • by Taibhsear ( 1286214 ) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @09:50AM (#24778573)

    Ok, amphetamines I can see, but weed? It doesn't exactly make your reflexes better and it's hard to pay attention when you laugh incessantly for no apparent reason. But I suppose it could help you focus more intently if... man my hands are HUGE... wait, what was I saying again?...

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by azav ( 469988 )

      Do you know people who code stoned? It might allow you to focus more on the task at hand.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 28, 2008 @10:49AM (#24779411)

        As someone who writes a great quantity of code while stoned, I can attest that I tend to get more focused on what I'm writing, and honestly, more excited about it and obsessed about making it perfect.

        These advantages are offset by the 50-line ASCII art comments I insert and the functions named "dogg_butt()" and "jibblejobble(int whaaaaat)." So, there are pros and cons.

  • Baked (Score:5, Insightful)

    by whisper_jeff ( 680366 ) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @09:52AM (#24778597)
    They didn't come in baked so they could play better - they came in baked because they're stoners. If they were at home watching tv, they'd be just as baked (and it's not so that they could watch tv better though I'm sure being stoned makes some of the crap on tv seem better...).
    • by Hatta ( 162192 )

      Getting baked sure made ol slick Willie's speech last night a whole lot better. Bet the Republican convention will be great too. Maybe I'll make a game out of it, take a rip from the bong every time someone says "The surge has worked."

  • by VickiM ( 920888 ) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @10:00AM (#24778715)

    News like this make me ashamed of my hobby in a way that even Barbie Horse Adventures couldn't manage.

  • by lsmo ( 1106631 ) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @10:01AM (#24778745)
    I find that playing video games after smoking some of the finest herb allows me to get into a very relaxed state of mind. This I think is the ultimate factor in defeating many of my opponents. It just puts me "In The Zone."
  • Why no drug testing other sports do it? Just look at Floyd Landis.

  • because now it is not a display of human mastery, now it is a display of biochemical mastery

    this is not some subtle philosophical point, because the followup point is that the emotional connection with the competitors is what drives audience attention, and that emotional connection is lost as people will tune out when they think it is the drug performing, rather than the athlete

    any sport that openly accept drug enhancement is a sport that will see its ratings drop.

    of course there will always be cheating, of course this means we must wage constant war, constant arms race, forever, on drugs in sports. this is simply the price you pay to retain interest in the sport

    • I disagree. (Score:5, Funny)

      by EWAdams ( 953502 ) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @10:23AM (#24779071) Homepage

      It's about time we had a sporting event in which drug enhancements are welcome so we can see the effects of the different drugs. "M0nstrMan took a double dose of crystal meth two hours before the contest, and we can see that he's 27 frags up on his nearest opponent. WeeTimmyLeary decided to go for tabs of acid today, and he's spent the whole match crouched in a corner screaming about purple caterpillars -- he doesn't have many frags, but nobody wants to go near him, either. 1nc1inerator's joytick hand is just a bloody stump at this point, but the heroin is really helping with the pain; he hasn't slowed down."

      In all the non-drug sports it come down to genetics and chance, and that's hardly fair.

      • In all the non-drug sports it come down to genetics and chance, and that's hardly fair.

        You left out the part about years of training, physical conditioning, and downright hard, hard work.

    • by pla ( 258480 )
      any sport that openly accept drug enhancement is a sport that will see its ratings drop.

      Tell that to Baseball for the last half century... Everyone knew they all took a variety of stimulants to give them an edge. Only when that shifted to steroids did we suddenly have some fictional national crisis over drug use in pro sports.

      No one really cares how they do it - We just want "our" team to win at any cost, and if they hit more homers on the way, all the better.
      • so everyone who is disgusted by mcguire, everyone who is disgusted with baseball for that... this is fictional? the feelings of disgust they have is a mirage?


        the effect i talk about is real: people want to see a human display, they don't want to see a roid head fiction ...well actually they DO, i just thought of something: it's called professional wrestling.

        its very entertaining to watch a bunch of roid heads smack each other around

        BUT NO ONE CONSIDERS THAT A REAL SPORT. it's a joke, a one act play


    • by sm62704 ( 957197 )

      because now it is not a display of human mastery, now it is a display of biochemical mastery

      Humans are chemical machines. Thought itself is a chemical process. Muscle movement is a chemical process. Emotions are a chemical process. A human being is a complex chemical reaction, and nothing more.

      of course there will always be cheating

      If it's not against the rules it's not cheating. Make drugs legal and they're no longer a cheat.

      this is simply the price you pay to retain interest in the sport

      They say "Babe Rut

      • i had no idea human beings were chemical processes

        (rolls eyes)

        there is a difference between the chemical processes that genetics and training gave you and the one you injected this morning. this difference is real, and valid, and is the pivot across which investing yourself emotionally in the athlete takes place

        "If it's not against the rules it's not cheating. Make drugs legal and they're no longer a cheat."

        absolutely, that's a perfectly valid legal point

        and i am not making a legal point. i am making a poin

  • by daskro ( 973768 ) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @10:10AM (#24778873)

    While the performance effects of cannabis are questionable, the fact that drug use, be it for recreational use or performance enhancement, is well known to gamers who actively compete in these kind of events.

    Of the dozens of events I've attended, there's always a significant number of people getting baked before the evens. It's also not surprising to see a handful of people taking amphetamines to keep them on their A-game after hours worth of match ups.

    Frankly this shouldn't be surprising, the entire sport centers around high caffeine sodas and gamer themed energy drinks. These events last for 6-8 hours at a time and winning becomes even more critical as the matches move towards the 11th hour.

    The community's resistance towards the entire drug testing issue best highlights all of this, when a number of leagues started pushing around the idea, there was both apathy and outrage over the idea, yet few voices of support on the issue. The suggestion that nearly every team has at least one guy who probably does some kind of narcotic also plays a part in this viewpoint.

    Until pro-gaming starts to get some real ad dollars behind it, the drug use will continue.


    • by Candid88 ( 1292486 ) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @11:27AM (#24779991)

      I've been to lots of big lan parties and most the time I'll be one of those people getting stoned beforehand or going out for the occasional joint during the day/evening.

      Nothign to do with trying to "enhance performance", I just like playing games even better when mashed.

      I suspect this explains a lot of the usage and why Cannabis (a drug not normally associated with performance enhancement) is the apparent drug of choice for gamers.

  • by sm62704 ( 957197 ) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @10:13AM (#24778941) Journal

    I have a CrystaLens implant that allows my old left eye to focus, unlike unmodified eyes in people my age. Before the implant my vision was incredibly bad; I wore "coke bottle" glasses all my life. Now my vision is vastly better than the normal 20/20. If I were in these games I would need no eyeglasses, unlike most nerds young and old, and unlike almost all geezers.

    Sweat dripping down your glasses is a definite minus in any game.

    Would my implant disqualify me? If not, I say let 'em ruin their lives with cocaine or amphetamines.

  • Episode 12. Turtle enters the game tournament, gets his ass kicked by a 10 year old and they figure out he sucks unless he's high.
  • by dreamchaser ( 49529 ) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @10:32AM (#24779197) Homepage Journal

    Computer/console gaming can be a professional endeavor but it isn't a sport anymore than professional chess is a sport. A sport requires some degree of physical activity beyond clicking a mouse or gamepad.

    I'm not taking anything away from the level of skill involved and maybe I'm just getting into the semantics too much, but I'm tired of people equating professional gaming with sports. Again, the chess analogy comes to mind.

  • by svendsen ( 1029716 ) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @10:32AM (#24779201)
    I am always curious why drugs are considered bad because they enhance the bodyâ(TM)s natural abilities but things like glasses, earring aides, whatever are ok. Glasses allow someone whose natural ability to not see well to see just as well (or even better) then someone with normal vision. Is using LASIEK bad? Same thing. Either you are competing with what you were born and how hard you train or we use a variety of mechanical, biological, chemical techniques to be come better at something. Since we already do mechanical (glasses, better fabrics for clothes, swimsuits, etc) and we do some biological (or is it chemical) when athletes train in sealed rooms with more oxygen to raise their red blood cell count, why do we as a society draw the line with drugs?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by cowscows ( 103644 )

      It's not necessarily mechanical vs. drugs, it's more about the intention. There's nothing wrong with taking a drug to get someone back to what would be considered "normal health." It's not a total ban on drugs. They're not going to suspend a football player for taking aspirin or anything like that. It's definitely not a clear-cut line, which makes the whole debate that much more complicated.

      At the end of the day, there's very strong evidence that steroids and the like have some really significant and unheal

  • by Chemisor ( 97276 ) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @10:33AM (#24779219)

    I don't know about you, but the majority of us simply aren't built to compete in sports any more. How can I compete with Michael Phelps's body, that's designed for swimming []? Sure, training helps, but the current top-level competitions are accessible only to those genetically suited for them. The Olympics might have had some relevance back in the Greek days, when you could look at the athletes and say "well, if I trained hard, I could run as fast as these guys". These days, there is no amount of training that can let me swim as fast as Phelps or run as fast as Bolt. So what's the point? All these athletes are necessarily "freaks" now, and the only way to beat them is to become a bigger freak.

  • by dave562 ( 969951 ) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @10:36AM (#24779249) Journal
    If the issue has to do with unfair advantages due to drugs, they better ban ritalin and prozac and xanax and anything else that tweaks the dopamine, seratonin, or acetylcholine levels in the brain. In fact, I think if they're going to be really serious, they should make everyone fast for two days before they even let them into the convention hall. Then once they are there they are only allowed to drink water and eat soups and organic salads. I can honestly say that every "gamer" I know is on something. Either they're caffeine addicts, alcoholics or stoners. I don't associate with any tweakers but it wouldn't surprise me to find a couple of meth-addicts online at 4am racking up kills in whatever the FPS of the week is. If drug use is an issue in "professional" sports then video game playing will never be a professional sport. Or if it is, your champions are going to be seven and eight year olds who haven't ever visited a psychatrist for acting like a normal kid.
  • Computer gaming finally enters the relm of "Professional Sports"
  • Well, since the gamers are all already petrified, all we need now are few vats of hot grits and...

    wait, nevermind I don't want to ruin that.

  • e-sports (Score:3, Funny)

    by SCHecklerX ( 229973 ) <> on Thursday August 28, 2008 @12:05PM (#24780495) Homepage

    wtf is an 'e-sport?'

  • They should (Score:3, Interesting)

    by SoulRider ( 148285 ) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @12:24PM (#24780755)

    go in the opposite direction and "require" everyone to take drugs to enhance their gaming experience. That would level the field also.

(null cookie; hope that's ok)