Supplements are being sold to help improve gaming performance

Supplements that fall within the category of nootropics are being sold to improve gaming performance.

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Hussaini Azri
May 13, 2021 10:22 am

My problem with gaming supplements, specifically gaming energy drinks, is that they are being advertised to children. When you are younger the prevailing mentality is ‘more is better’. This can have disastrous consequences as a 14 year old boy from Norway found out.

Henrik Eide Dahl was at a school LAN party – a party where computers are locally connected to play video games – where he eventually drank up to 4 liters of an energy drink. He collapsed while playing Call of Duty and was quickly hospitalized with kidney failure. He spent just under 2 weeks in hospital and his condition was life-threatening. Fortunately for him, he survived and recovered. But it does show how dangerous these drinks can be, especially when drinking in the highly charged environment of a competitive video game.

Gaming energy drinks are still being marketed to children, however. A United States Senate Report published on July 31 2013, “Energy Drinks: Exploring Concerns About Marketing To Youth“, makes some damning accusations at energy drink companies. As advertising to children has increased, so too has the number of emergency room visits associated with energy drink consumption. The American Academy of Pediatrics has said that energy drinks have “no place in the diet of children and adolescents”.

Some energy drink companies have made a commitment not to market to children but what they really mean is that they don’t market to children under 12 years old. They haven’t made the same commitment towards 12-18 year olds, where a large chunk of sales come from. The Senate report cited above also gives examples of how even though commitments are made not to market to children under 12, there are still cases of energy drink companies using children as young as 7 to promote their drinks.

Gaming energy drinks look great and make some alluring claims about improving your performance, but when children are a large target market, it doesn’t sit right with me.

Abi Ortega
May 14, 2021 11:28 am

As a gamer I have been tempted to try gaming supplements. Their marketing really is on point. A tasty drink that improves your ability. What’s not to like? But there is something in the back of my mind that does not trust these manufacturers.

Gamma Labs, the company that produces G Fuel, has worked hard to create customer trust. People are wary of energy drinks, especially when they see a drink like Bang Energy that has 300mg of caffeine, more than 2 cups of coffee, in each can. The CEO of Gamma Labs, Clifford Morgan has attacked other energy drinks as toxic and containing too many chemicals. “I don’t think you can even compare the ingredients that are in G Fuel to the ingredients of some energy drinks,” he said.

It is ironic that Gamma Labs was sued by the Environmental Research Center for not providing warning labels on G Fuel, which was in violation of California’s Health and Safety code. 18 G Fuel products contained lead beyond the safe daily dosage; an element that is carcinogenic and can cause birth defects.

This alone makes me want to stay far away from any gaming supplement. But influencer marketing is a powerful thing. G Fuel sponsors numerous personalities. Team Gamma includes gamers, YouTubers and UFC fighters. One way to rationalize it is each influencer will be careful about the products they sponsor. If a product is dangerous, it will damage their brand. And one thing we know about social media is you can be the hero today and the villain tomorrow. So instead of looking into the ingredients of gaming drinks, many people will just think, “Oh, well Influencer X sponsors this drink. I trust him/her. It should be fine to drink.”

Anna Alonso
May 13, 2021 8:04 pm

Gaming supplements are designed to put you in an optimal state when you are gaming. They give you energy, calm your nerves and heighten your focus. These are desirable states for a range of activities. It comes as no surprise that people are taking gaming supplements before an athletic event or an exam.

Various gaming supplement companies have emerged over the past few years. Some of these include Rogue Energy, Ghost Gamer, G Fuel, Sneak Energy and the amusingly-named Noob Energy. Offering sponsorships to gamers has been an effective way to generate sales. We’re used to seeing athletes sponsored by energy drink companies. For example Gatorade sponsors football’s Lionel Messi and tennis’ Serena Williams. Bodyarmor sponsors basketball’s James Harden and football’s Megan Rapinoe. But we are now seeing e-athletes sponsored by gaming supplement companies.

Rogue Energy has a sponsorship program that lets you earn commission on sales of their energy drinks. Usually this works by having a unique discount code for a gamer. If a fan orders these drinks using the discount code, the gamer will get a percentage of the sale. It is a win-win. Rogue Energy gets their drinks in front of more gamers and the sponsor gets to earn a bit more income.

Unsurprisingly established energy drink companies are releasing their own versions of gaming drinks. Why? Because the customer base is so large. Mountain Dew (or Mtn Dew) has their Gaming Fuel line, sponsoring the streamers Dr Disrespect and Courage. While Red Bull does not have a specific gaming line, it is getting heavily involved in e-sports and currently sponsors e-athletes such as cNed, TheGrefg and Nyhrox.

In any athletic or competitive activity, people have looked for ways to get an edge above their competition. This hasn’t changed but the scene has broadened to include video games and streaming. E-sports is booming and gaming supplements are the new way to get an edge.

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Robert Huot
May 6, 2021 11:26 pm

I have to say I am cynical about supplements. So to see that there is a market just for gaming supplements, I wonder about their efficacy. Gaming supplements claim to improve various aspects of a gamer’s skillset.

Focus and reaction time
Whether it’s a sports game or a first person shooter, speed is an advantage. Being the first to the punch can give you an advantage that you can leverage for the entirety of the game.

Energy
In any pursuit a lack of energy will hinder you. Imagine turning up to a 100 meter sprint and feeling flat.

Memory
This is an interesting one but understandable. If you are playing on a large level or map, you will need to remember where key items and weapons are. In the pressure of the moment you may forget where to pick up some extra ammo and then you find yourself with an empty barrel. I would say memory isn’t the problem here. Instead it’s managing the pressure, which leads on to the next skillset.

Stress Control
Some gaming supplements claim to inhibit cortisol production, the stress hormone. In my opinion a certain level of stress or nervousness is needed in competition. If you are too relaxed, then you can’t push yourself to perform your best. And if the pressure affects you too much, then you can make big mistakes. A happy medium is needed.

Endurance
So you can perform well for the first 5 minutes. What happens if the game is 20 minutes long? Being able to keep energy levels up throughout the game is important.

Just like with fitness supplements, these pills and powders cannot replace a bad diet and unhealthy habits. If you are sleeping 4 hours a night, a supplement is unlikely to help you with focus, energy and memory. If you’re eating nothing but junk food, your endurance won’t be as good as it could be. If you don’t exercise, you aren’t managing your stress properly.

A gamer’s skillset can be improved by simply living a health lifestyle. And if you need a bit more focus and energy, a cup of coffee will do the trick. Don’t be surprised to find caffeine in a lot of gaming supplements. Caffeine has been found to have legitimate performance enhancement properties unlike many other ingredients that have complex names that you’ve never heard of.

My view of supplements remains cynical and that doesn’t change with the production of gaming supplements. If anything, a reliance on supplements can be detrimental. Remember the term ‘supplement’ means to ‘be in addition to’. Supplements can never undo unhealthy habits and they only provide marginal benefits if you’re doing things right. If you are looking to take your gaming to the next level, go ahead and try some supplements but don’t think they can do the work for you. That will be up to you.