#CouchLock Does weed make you better at video games?

Cannabis and video games is a match made in a hazy heaven. There is nothing better than smoking a bowl and throwing on some Call of Duty or Halo.

Have you ever wondered if smoking weed enhances your playing ability? Some will say, “I kick ass at vids while stoned,” while others will say, “umm…no I can’t function.”

Adding cannabis to video games brings a whole new meaning to high score.

Although the effects of marijuana sometimes differ from person-to-person, there are people who feel that getting high improves their game play. In fact, there are eSports organizations (professional video game competitions) that are calling weed a PED (performance enhancing drug) and banning it from competition. But does it really help or make you better at video games or is it all in our head?

Image: Hightimes
Image: Hightimes

Besides lazy video game players, there are many athletes who have raved about the benefits of weed before, during, or after competing in a real sport. There are marathon runners who consume edibles and have sworn by the results.

Athletes believe that smoking or eating cannabis helps them avoid fatigue, boredom or anxiety during intense physical exertion.

Science points to the brain’s endocannabinoid system. When someone smokes a joint, the brain’s cannabinoid receptors receive the THC and deliver a psychoactive effect. The endocannabinoid system is responsible for regulating appetite, pain-sensation, emotions, memory and further reduces both physical and mental exhaustion.

So what does running a marathon or competing in a sport have anything to do with playing video games? There are gamers out there who swear that smoking weed increases their focus, calms their anxiety and increases their finger reflex response. They say that your mind, during an altered-state gaming session, appears to be operating at a very sophisticated level of engagement.

Now, this isn’t anything new, and there still isn’t any real conclusive study out there that I found. But I did come across this Cannabis in Sports writeup that made some interesting finds regarding weed being a performance enhancing drug that you can also apply to gaming. Their study says the following:

Cannabis could be performance enhancing in sports that require greater concentration… improvement of vision for goalkeepers and muscle relaxation… cannabis smoking reduces anxiety, allowing athletes to better perform under pressure and to alleviate stress experienced before and during competition.

Athletes under the influence of cannabis indicate that their thoughts flow more easily and their decision making and creativity is enhanced… Health professionals have encountered athletes including gymnasts, divers, football players and basketball players who claim smoking cannabis before play helps them to focus better.

Clearly, cannabis induces euphoria, improves self-confidence, induces relaxation and steadiness… Cannabis enhances sensory perception, decreases respiratory rate and increases heart rate; increased bronchodilation may improve oxygenation of the tissues… based on current animal and human studies as well as on interviews with athletes and information from the field, cannabis can be performance enhancing.

Image: Stonerdays.com

There are still people who will never get on board with the idea of cannabis being “performance enhancing.” But one of the largest eSports (competitive video gaming) organizations in the world, called the ESL, has now included cannabis on their banned substance list and will randomly test gamers for all types of PEDs.

Also on the list is Adderall which is a psychostimulant usually used to for people who deal with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).



“Marijuana is on the list of prohibited substances for during the competition,” ESL told Motherboard. “This means that recreational use of it outside (before) the event days will not be punished. Using it during the tournament – from the start of the first day until the end of the last day of competition – is strictly prohibited.”

It’s stimulants like Adderall that have crept into the gamer community. The competitive advantage that comes from taking the drug is that it increases your ability to concentrate for long periods of time. Gamers spend hours training and playing in competitions, that if they can lock themselves into a zen like focus, it’s a huge advantage compared to the players who are clean.

Some say that marijuana does the same thing. I guess it depends on who you talk to and what type of strain. So I decided to chat with someone within the scene.

Casey White, who not only works within the video game industry but also covers it at ShogunGamer.com, says that cannabis had to be taken seriously as a PED in the big money world of video game competitions.

“I can see why it’s banned,” said White. “I used to be in the tournament scene and it’s really the nerves you have to overcome for that. If I had the opportunity to smoke up before a high-level Street Fighter match, I probably would have considered it performance enhancing, so I can see where they’re (ESL) coming from.”

“Last year one of the biggest eSport tournaments had a $18-million prize pool, and this year it’s on track to being $20-million. There is a lot of money on the line and, generally speaking, I don’t think people realize how much money is out there. So the idea of enhancing your performance through drugs, isn’t really that farfetched when you’re talking about millions of dollars that someone could earn.”

I’m on the wrong career path.

Look, not everyone is going to jump into a high-level video game competitions. Most of us are couch locked playing NHL or slaying Stormtroopers on Star Wars Battlefront, and so blazing and playing vids isn’t going to mean we are going to start taking piss tests.

But it’s interesting to know that competitive gamers, who I would say a large percentage of are probably pot heads, have to treat their gaming careers like high-level Olympic athletes.

What say you? Do you consider cannabis a performance enhancing drug? Are you better at video games when high? Tell us on Twitter and Facebook, or the comment section below.

Make sure to check Trevor Dueck and Steve Stebbing out every Friday on Cannabis in Canada for Flix Anonymous. They review all the new film releases, give you their weekly stoner flicks and more.