Washington City Paper contributor and Huffington Post staffer Ryan Grim reports that the Office of National Drug Control Policy is taking the War against Fun in a new direction:
“Getting high affects your brain in ways that may directly influence your gaming ability,” warns the Drug Czar’s Web site, citing the impairment of “many of the skills required for winning a background, defeating an opponent, [and] beating games.”
To dramatize how bad a stoner can be at video games, the site interviews a computer-generated character who laments the demise of a gamer friend of hers. “I used to have a good time with Lyle. We made a good team. He had skill. He had swiftness,” she says. “Well, he used to, anyway. Then our last fight, Lyle decided to get high. And it was simply: sayonara skill, sayonara swiftness.”
Pot reduces hand-eye coordination for activities like driving, ladling baked-potato soup, and self-loving, and a quick search didn’t turn up any science that would prove or even suggest that the opposite is true for video games. But the hacks at Above the Influence left out one key data element in their analysis: Many gamers who smoke were smokers before they started playing video games. I once watched a level-60 (the highest level achievable at the time) World of Warcraft player take a hit from a 6-foot bong without coughing. He held that hit for a good 30 seconds then let it out very slowly through his nose. The guy was rather unexceptional in almost every other activity, save for those 6-footer hits and his WoW record.
So while taking up smoking after you’ve been playing video games for years might throw you off, taking up video games after smoking for years just means that you’ll learn to play the game differently. In neither scenario are you guaranteed to suck at video gaming in general, especially since different genres require different skill sets.
I hope the Drug Czar’s silly bit of agitprop inspires some dude in a labcoat to test the above assertions; perhaps s/he will discover a novel and counterintuitive trend, kinda like the one about how gamers are fitter than the average American.