Drug Testing Is Coming to E-Sports

I rarely play video games or online games these days, but as a teacher of people who do, I try to keep abreast of what is going on in that universe.

There was an article on the New York Times a couple of weeks ago that could be used to talk about the topic of online games and ethics in sports. The title ‘Drug testing is coming to E-sports’ hints at the fact that players are using PEDs to try to get an edge, just like athletes in professional leagues do.

I think there are two ways you can approach this pre-reading activity. The first is selecting images of popular online games (such as League of Legends, Counter Strike, Dota 2 and Hearthstone), all of which have online leagues with prize money. You could ask students questions like

  • Have you played any of these games? If so, which one is their favourite?
  • Have you ever watched an E-sport competition? If not, do you think it would be fun?

The second possibility is taking a cue from the first line of the article, which mentions famous athletes that were caught using steroids in baseball and cycling. So you could choose to show students photos of Alex Rodriguez and Lance Armstrong and ask them:

  • Do you recognize these people? What do you think they have in common?

Accept answers such as ‘they are American’ and ‘they are athletes’. After establishing that they were caught using PEDs, introduce the following questions:

  • Do you think it’s fair to use drugs in sports? What are the possible consequences?
  • Would you use drugs to get better if you knew you wouldn’t get caught? Why or Why not?

The idea behind the second question is to make a link with the use of drugs in E-sports, where until very recently there was no drug testing. You could try to lead the discussion in that direction and then tell students about the text they are going to read. You can find the original article here and download the adapted version below.


Drug Testing Is Coming to E-Sports

The while-reading questions I suggest are:

  • What drug is used by Counter Strike players?
  • Where did this information first appear?
  • How is drug testing going to change E-sports?
  • Are people happy about the change?

You may also want to explore the idea that Adderall doesn’t instantly make people better players and that it might help people in certain areas of the game but hurt them in others.

After the discussion, I usually move on to exploring the language in the article. The words I found interesting are highlighted in bold. You could also ask students to choose other words they would like to know more about. If you do it, it’s a good idea to set a limit of one or two words per students, depending on how big your group is, in order to save time.

Below you can find some sample conversation questions using the target language from the text, that can be adapted according to the group profile.

  • Do you have any friends who like to boast about their abilities?
  • Would you like to live in a hectic city like São Paulo?
  • Do you think online games like Hearthstone offer a level playing field?
  • Did living in Canada help boost your English as much as you expected?
  • Are there good entertainment options to cater for people your age in Jundiaí?

Finally, if your students are really into the topic, you could show them the infamous video where Kory Friensen talk about using Adderall.

The topic of using drugs comes up at around 7:40, but from 0:20 to 2:34 he talks about leaving Cloud9 and there is some interesting language to be explored.

Thanks for reading

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