Category: Professional Posters
Purpose: Cognitive-enhancing drug use has been reported among various populations, including chess and poker players. Although prescription stimulant medications have been used by chess and poker players for performance enhancement, little is known regarding its use among video gamers. Anecdotally, professional video gamers utilize prescription stimulants at tournament competitions. Prescription stimulant misuse among video gamers (a population exceeding 175 million worldwide) may have a substantial impact upon public health. The objectives of this study are to determine if prescription stimulants are misused by adult video gamers for performance enhancement and to determine the prevalence of the Internet Gaming Disorder (IGD) diagnosis.
Methods: A 40-item Internet-based survey was administered through Qualtrics via various social forums and discussion boards between May 8 and June 12, 2019. Specific variables assessed included the following: demographics, video gaming behaviors/patterns, misuse of prescription stimulants, and rate of IGD. The validated 9-item Internet Gaming Disorder Scale-Short Form (IGDS9-SF) questionnaire was used to screen for IGD; a score of ≥36 out of a possible 45 met criteria for IGD. Participants who were ≥18 years old and reported playing video games within the past 12 months were included. Participants who completed the survey had the option of being included in a random drawing for one of 15 $10 gift cards.
Results: A total of 399 participants completed the survey. Most participants were male (83.9%) with a mean age of 24.7±4.7 years, who reported playing video games 17.7±16.0 hours/week for 5.5±1.8 days/week. The majority of respondents classified their race as white (55.7%), followed by Asian (21.2%), and Hispanic (11.3%). Fifty-four (13.6%) participants reported using a prescription stimulant for any purpose; 19 (4.7%) used a prescription stimulant specifically to enhance video gaming performance. Of the 19 prescription stimulant users, Adderall/amphetamine salts (47.4%), Ritalin/methylphenidate (26.3%), and Vyvanse/lisdexamfetamine (21.0%) were the most commonly reported. The most highly rated reason for using prescription stimulants was to improve concentration while gaming (4.53±0.84, out of 5.0 scale). Nine participants (2.3%) met criteria for IGD.
Conclusion: This study is the first to confirm prescription stimulant misuse among adult video gamers, with 4.7% misusing prescription stimulants to enhance gaming performance. IGD is present among adult video gamers, but with lower prevalence than the general pediatric population. This information may aid clinicians and researchers in the identification of high-risk patients and the development of interventional strategies decreasing prescription stimulant misuse among video gamers.