An Introduction to Nootropics
Nootropics, also known as smart drugs or cognitive enhancers, have been seeing increased global demand and sales over the past few years. Since their introduction in the 1970’s, there have been many kinds of nootropics released in the market, all with varying ingredients and benefits. In fact, many nootropics are not even considered as drugs but as supplements due to the classification of their ingredients under the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and other regulatory agencies.
There are nootropics that are made for increasing neurotransmitter levels, for improving blood flow to the brain, and for protecting neurons from dying. What is common among these drugs is that they are all targeted towards improving brain performance.
- Racetams. Racetams, which are the most common nootropics, help improve memory and focus, as well as protect your brain cells from deterioration. Examples include Piracetam, Aniracetam, and Oxiracetam.
- Choline. Choline, which is essential for brain function and health, is naturally found in the human body. Citicoline and Centrophenoxine are examples of Choline nootropics. These Choline supplements are known to help with memory storage and retrieval.
- Vitamin B Derivatives. Commonly used to treat low energy levels, Sulbutiamine is a kind of nootropic that is derived from Thiamine or Vitamin B1. It also helps improve memory and treat cognitive disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease.
- Peptides. A popular peptide in the market is Noopept. It is shown to increase alertness, improve motivation, and stimulate brain activity.
- Ampakines. They are known to have a direct effect on the brain’s glutamate receptors. They stimulate the production of glutamate which helps improve learning capability and memory.
There are many other kinds of nootropics, both synthetic and natural. Due to their touted benefits of enhanced memory, concentration, creativity, and motivation, the drugs have gained popularity with people who want an advantage over their peers. These include students, business owners, software developers, and investment brokers in competitive environments such as Silicon Valley and Wall Street.
Startup companies, such as truBrain and Nootrobox, that offer nootropic products are growing at a fast rate. They market nootropic stacks, which are combinations of various nootropics, that help boost brain performance when used during specific times of the day. Due to the unregulated use of nootropics, concerns on misuse and safety are being shared by many medical professionals.
Despite the ongoing disputes on the benefits, ethics, and side effects of using nootropics, the smart drug movement is unlikely to slow down anytime soon. Given their popularity with professionals in various industries, it comes as no surprise as to how they have entered the world of eSports.
Competitive Gaming: “The World of eSports”
eSports is a form of organized competition where professional players compete in various kinds of video game environments in a single or multiplayer setting. While the popularity of video games naturally brought about small-scale competitions between amateurs, professional eSports rose to prominence in the late 2000’s as the platform saw increased interest among players and spectators across North America, Europe, South Korea, and China. With the introduction of online streaming services on YouTube and Twitch, eSports has all the mechanisms needed for mainstream availability. eSports is expected to grow further as players continue to vie for millions of dollars in prizes and organizations continue to see increased revenue and viewership.
eSports games, such as the popular League of Legends and StarCraft II, are characterized by fast-paced environments where players need perfect hand-eye coordination, fast decision-making, deep game-specific knowledge, and ironclad concentration to succeed. This is true across fighting, real-time strategy, multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA), and first-person shooter (FPS) games.
In this competitive environment, players are pressured to perform well all the time. It is no wonder that the cognitive benefits of nootropics are not being overlooked by professional players. Some teams, such as the Vain Glory players — the Gankstars, are even sponsored by a nootropics company.
The Combination of eSports and Nootropics
The benefits of using nootropics to eSports players are plenty. These include:
- Concentration. Long hours of gaming practice and competitions can take toll on the player. The nootropics’ benefit of helping players focus can be crucial to winning games consistently. This is especially true for real-time strategy games and MOBA games that typically take 30 minutes or more to finish. The combination of L-Theanine and Caffeine can help you become steady and alert for long periods of time.
- Memory. All games have mechanics that allow you to take advantage of an opportunity in order to beat your opponent. The ability to remember and apply game knowledge at the right time can make the difference between a loss and a win. This is useful in fighting games where a player who knows all of the moves of the characters in the game can anticipate the perfect timing for countering an opponent’s move. Noopept is a kind of nootropic that can help you easily memorize and remember the information that you need.
- Composure. Nootropics are also known to have mood-enhancing properties. The ability to maintain your calm in various tough situations is beneficial for any player of eSports. In an FPS game, where you can be ambushed easily, assessing the situation before taking sudden risky actions is important. Nootropics, such as Aniracetam, can help reduce your anxiety.
- Decision-Making. With nootropics’ benefits to concentration, memory, and composure, players can make correct decisions more often. This is especially beneficial for team leaders who must direct their team members accurately in fast-changing environments. The nootropic Citicoline can help optimize your brain in processing information and making decisions quickly.
Other nootropics, such as the herb Bacopa Monnieri (which clears the mind) and Creatine (which reduces fatigue), can help a player during the learning phase of a game as they help boost the brain’s short and long-term performance.
Barriers to the Use of Nootropics in eSports
As with any sport, the ruling organization would want to maintain fairness across all teams and players. Performance-enhancing drugs are banned in traditional sports due to this. Some eSports organizations have introduced drug testing for professional players in order to curb the practice. These tests are in line with the lists of banned drugs from the National Anti-Doping Agency and the World Anti-Doping Agency. However, the difficulty of detecting nootropics and the wide variety of drug types have shown little results for the initiative.
Currently, there are no strong findings of negative side effects associated with large nootropic brands. However, many people still have difficulty accepting the thought of consuming unregulated drugs that directly affect the person’s brain. While many eSports players are using nootropic products regularly, there is still some resistance on the side of players who do not want to risk taking the drug.
eSports organizations and players are also wary of how spectators would feel about the use of the drug. If the use of prominent nootropics can tarnish the reputation of the eSports leagues, there is a chance that stricter regulations would be put into place and nootropics usage would drop.
Only time will tell how regulations regarding nootropics use will change. But it is undeniable what the benefits of nootropics can contribute to eSports as a whole. If the eSports players are consistently executing difficult maneuvers and delivering exciting performances, it is highly likely for the sport to evolve further and become even more popular.