Is Drug-Testing necessary in eSports?
The eSports industry is growing day by day. It's not surprising to see that, after a generation of people playing Mario and other video games, professional video game playing is becoming a valued commodity. Now that TV networks are looking to cash in, it only seems fair that we take eSports seriously in every way. This includes banning those who cheat, and handing out discipline to people who gain some type of unfair advantage. So how does someone gain an unfair advantage while playing a video game?
Adderall and Other Drugs
Remember the film Limitless? Bradley Cooper decides to take a pill and all of a sudden he can use his entire brain. He becomes the smartest guy alive, only to crash when he is off the pill. Well, the real-life alternatives to such a drug are popular medications such as Adderall, Vyvanse and plenty of other drugs that allow you to focus for extensive periods of time.
What does this have to do with the ESL (Electronic Sports League)? Well, imagine you're playing Halo while on Adderall and everybody else is just playing for fun -- without the help of substances. You most likely will have the sharpest focus of everyone playing, along with better reaction time. That's an unfair advantage. This is why drug testing is needed in eSports.
During an interview last year, Cory "Semphis" Friesen admitted to using Adderall, and it did not surprise the interviewer -- nor did it surprise many fans. In the interview, the interviewer remaked that everyone at ESLN was on Adderall, which Friesen confirmed.
The fact that many fans expect these eSports professionals to use amphetamines is the problem. When Friesen made the comments, it put the spotlight on a large issue for the ESL. Although the new drug testing laws will prevent people from using performance enhancing drugs, it will do nothing to penalize those who have used before.
Pills are not the only drugs being tested for. The ESL announced a long list of the stimulants, narcotics, and cannabinoids that it will be testing for. The list is based on the list of substances tested for in the Olympics. One noticeable omission is marijuana. The ESL has stated that the only time they will be testing for marijuana will be on the first and last day of tournaments.
Taking a Stand
For eSports to be taken seriously and be viewed like any other sport, they needs to be treated like any other sport. This means that the drug users and cheats of the sport need to be disciplined if they violate the rules. Allowing people to take a performance-enhancing drug in order to gain an unfair mental or physical advantage would take away from the sport's credibility.
The ESL is a growing company that is bringing in millions of viewers each year. The 2014 League of Legends championship attracted more than 27 million viewers, making it more popular than Game 7 of the 2014 World Series of Baseball. It is officially time to take eSports seriously, and that means holding competitors to a higher standard. Drug testing will allow the ESL to move forward in a professional manner, and do so credibility. We're looking at the start of a global gaming phenomenon; the cheaters need to be left behind.