Enhanced Esports: Community Perspectives on Performance Enhancers in Competitive Gaming

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Enhanced Esports: Community Perspectives on Performance Enhancers in Competitive Gaming

At this point, it’s fairly well-established that performance-enhancing modalities exist within traditional sports. As esports has continued to grow, esports athletes and the esports community have also become aware of the potential for use of performance-enhancing drugs and treatments in esports competitions. 

In this study, researchers investigated the use and perception of Performance Enhancers in Competitive Gaming. To gather data, the authors conducted an online survey and collected comments from various online forums and social media platforms. The survey included questions about participants’ own Performance Enhancing Substances (PES) usage and their perceptions of PES usage among professional esports athletes. The comments collected were analyzed using thematic analysis to identify common themes and patterns in the discussions.

The results of the survey showed that while most participants reported not using PES, a significant proportion had used PES in the past or were willing to use them in the future. Caffeine was the most commonly used PES, followed by food and food supplements. Participants who were willing to use PES cited a desire to improve their performance and a belief that PES could help level the playing field as reasons for their willingness. However, many participants also placed limits on their PES use, such as avoiding illegal or banned substances or only using PES with manageable side effects.

The comments collected from online forums and social media indicated that PES usage was perceived to be widespread in professional esports, with some participants speculating that PES usage is an “open secret” in the industry. Participants also expressed concerns about the fairness of PES usage and called for stricter regulation and discipline for PES users.

Overall, the study suggests that PES usage is a significant issue in esports and that there is a need for further research and regulation in this area. The authors recommend that esports organizations consider implementing measures such as testing procedures and a biological passport system similar to those used in traditional sports, as well as addressing the potential health risks associated with PES usage. They also suggest that the relationship between energy drink companies and esports organizations should be carefully examined to ensure that it does not undermine efforts to regulate PES usage in the industry.

There are several key considerations for coaches and support staff to take away from this study:

  1. PES are a common topic of discussion among esports players and are perceived to be widely used in professional play. Coaches and support staff should be aware of this and should be prepared to address any questions or concerns that players may have about PES.
  2. Players may have different attitudes towards PES and may be willing to use them for a variety of reasons. Coaches and support staff should be open and non-judgmental when discussing PES with players in order to facilitate productive conversations while complying with the standards and rules of their particular league.
  3. There is a lack of regulation and discipline surrounding PES use in esports, which may be a source of concern for some players. Coaches and support staff should be aware of the potential risks and consequences of PES use independent of regulation.
  4. Fairness is a key concern for many players when it comes to PES use. Coaches and support staff should be aware of this concern and should work to ensure that players feel that competition is fair and enjoyable for all participants.
  5. Coaches and support staff should be prepared to educate players about the potential risks and effects of PES and should be available to provide guidance and support to players who have questions or concerns about PES use. 


Friehs, Maximilian & Klarkowski, Madison & Frommel, Julian & Phillips, Cody & Mandryk, Regan. (2022). Enhanced Esports: Community Perspectives on Performance Enhancers in Competitive Gaming. Proceedings of the ACM on Human-Computer Interaction. 6. 1-29. 10.1145/3549494.


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