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:
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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