Research

Cannabis and Video Games: A Perfect Match

Written by Nick Congleton

It seems like a no-brainer: video games and cannabis. They seem to go together like peanut butter and jelly, and the idea plays into that dated idea of the lazy “stoner” sitting around gaming all day. There’s so much more to the story than that, though.

Both cannabis and gaming cultures have grown and matured considerably in the past few years, to the point where they’re both finally being taken seriously. Professional gaming, or e-sports, has evolved into a multi-million dollar industry, attracting big name investors. Meanwhile, cannabis, and it’s expanding user base have a clear role to play in gaming’s bright future.

Cannabis and Gaming Performance

When most people think of optimal performance in a sport that requires lightning reflexes and peak concentration, they don’t think of cannabis.  Given cannabis’ reputation for the opposite, it might come as a surprise that there’s actually compelling evidence that cannabis may enhance a gamer’s performance.

Any gamer knows that an intense match in any game can be stressful, and stress throws you off your game. What’s great at combating stress? Cannabis. The anti-anxiety properties of cannabis are well documented across many different studies, making it an excellent option for gamers looking to keep their cool. [1] [2]

Focus is another important factor in gaming. Getting distracted is a quick way to lose. Once again, cannabis provides a potential solution. Studies of medical cannabis patients have seen participants report increased focus and concentration. [2]

There is a downside, though. Cannabis is also known for it’s negative impact on short term memory. [3] Now, for some gamers, this might not be a big deal. For others, it’s a deal breaker.  Depending on what games you play, it’s definitely something to be mindful of.

If all of that didn’t convince you. Major e-sports leagues have begun banning cannabis use and a performance-enhancing drug. In fact, studies have already been conducted exploring the performance enhancing impact of cannabis in sports. One study affirmed the potential for cannabis to enhance mental performance by reducing anxiety, lowering inhibitions, and regulating stress. [4]

Now, this is far for conclusive proof that cannabis will up your game, but if the pros are taking it seriously, maybe there’s a good reason for it.

Cannabis and More Enjoyable Gaming

Not everyone who plays video games wants to go pro. There’s some good news for everyone else that just wants to play for fun too.

Immersion is a major factor in gaming.  It’s the reason developers spend millions on ultra-realistic high definition graphics. Plenty of people play games to relax and escape. Again, cannabis fits in perfectly here as well.  The focus and euphoric state that come alone with cannabis help to build immersion and aid the suspension of disbelief.  In short, cannabis puts your head in the game.

Especially now, with the rise of online gaming and streaming, playing video games is becoming a more social experience than ever before.  Cannabis, too, can be a social experience. It can also work to facilitate more socialization and lower inhibitions and anxiety to help gamers connect. [4]

Cannabis and Gaming: Shared Business Opportunities

Both cannabis and video games are booming businesses with rapid growth.  Both are drawing in serious heavy-hitters in the financial world.

There’s significant demographic overlap between gamers and cannabis users. It shouldn’t come as a surprise, then, that market research conducted by the Brightfield Group found that 54% of cannabis users reported using cannabis while playing video games. [5] For businesses, this equates to advertising and cross-promotion opportunities.

Several CBD companies have dipped their toes into sponsorships in the motor sports arena. E-sports are the next logical step and one a few companies have begun to take. Between the possibility of sponsoring pro gaming teams and events and the advertising opportunities through individual streamers, there’s no shortage of marketing avenues in the gaming space for cannabis companies.

It’s clear that the road ahead is wide open for both the gaming industry and the cannabis one. The synergy between the two is obvious, and there’s no reason there shouldn’t be more cooperation among them.

 

Resources:

1- Stith SS, Vigil JM, Brockelman F, Keeling K, Hall B. Patient-reported symptom relief following medical cannabis consumption. Frontiers in Pharmacology. 2018;9:916. doi:10.3389/fphar.2018.00916
https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fphar.2018.00916/full

2- Webb CW, Webb SM. Therapeutic benefits of cannabis: a patient survey. Hawaii J Med Public Health. 2014;73(4):109-111.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3998228/

3- Schoeler T, Bhattacharyya S. The effect of cannabis use on memory function: an update. Subst Abuse Rehabil. 2013;4:11-27. Published 2013 Jan 23. doi:10.2147/SAR.S25869
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3931635/

4- Huestis MA, Mazzoni I, Rabin O. Cannabis in sport: anti-doping perspective. Sports Med. 2011;41(11):949-966. doi:10.2165/11591430-000000000-00000
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3717337/

5- Obrzut M. Who are the ‘cannagamers’ and how can cannabis companies reach them? Cannabis Business Times. 2021.
https://www.cannabisbusinesstimes.com/article/cannagamer-cannabis-consumers-video-games-trends/

About the author

Nick Congleton

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