You might think I’m crazy, but biohacking is a personal hobby. Commonly defined as the use of genetic modification, supplementation or other measures designed to influence one’s biology, biohacking has been in vogue with techies and gamers for some time now. Eager to gain a competitive edge, whether it comes to coding or gaming, biohackers use supplements, pharmaceuticals, and in extreme cases genetic modification to enhance their focus and mental acuity.
In my case, this experimentation has taken a mild form. While I have rolled the dice with some pharmaceuticals in the past, I prefer natural supplements with limited risks or side effects. As a result, CBD has been a predictable choice.
Long reported to relieve insomnia, anxiety, inflammation, and other symptoms, CBD has also been reported to help users maintain a relaxed state of focus and concentration. Being a die-hard gamer and SEGA fan, I could think of no better way to test the effectiveness of CBD as a performance enhancer than by taking it while playing some of my favorite SEGA classics.
The nature of the game would, of course, be operative so I decided to test its use with several different kinds of games that would require different skills. My first choice was an old favorite that spawned an entire franchise of games: Mortal Kombat 2.
A classic fighting game that requires quick reflexes, impeccable timing, and an appreciation for senseless gore, Mortal Kombat has been a favorite of mindless button-mashers and hardcore gamers alike.
What was immediately apparent after taking CBD was that its effects were very subtle. Contrary to popular belief, CBD does not contain THC and therefore does not contain any psychoactive properties. In other words, taking it won’t get you high. For obvious reasons, this might be an adjustment for many gamers.
I will say that I did notice a subtle sense of relaxation and calm after taking CBD that, in fact, was quite pleasant. In retrospect, this should not have been particularly surprising, as the treatment of anxiety and promotion of good sleep have long been hailed as CBD’s many benefits.
Exactly how much this benefited my gameplay is somewhat unclear. I did undeniably accomplish some ass-kicking and my results were definitely not bad, but they also weren’t remarkable. Overall I’d say that my performance was about average for the first 30 minutes of gameplay and slightly above average for the next 30 minutes.
Did the influence of CBD influence my style of play? That’s certainly possible. To the extent that my style of play changed, I’d say it was slightly more conservative than usual.
I was perhaps, slightly less frantic in mashing the buttons that produced my favorite attacks. Any Mortal Kombat player knows that good players are masters of timing their attacks, which is how they can dismantle the noobish button-mashers of the game. Considering that, being a little more precise and a little less neurotic probably wasn’t that bad a thing.
My one caveat is that there definitely was a ceiling to my performance. As I faced more challenging opponents I found it difficult to up my game. My theory is that the enhanced relaxation, while great for more average opponents, perhaps didn’t give me the lightning-fast reflexes I needed to conquer advanced opponents.
One possible solution could be to combine CBD with a small amount of caffeine. Doing so could provide a synergistic effect and promote a state of more energized concentration. Seeing as CBD coffee is rising in popularity and easy to access in many states, this is definitely something I plan to experiment with in the future.
Nonetheless, the effects of CBD alone had piqued my interest. I had gone from CBD-curious to a tentative believer.
Encouraged by the relaxing effects of CBD, I was eager to test its effectiveness while playing some of my other SEGA classics. Next up on the chopping block was another old favorite: Sonic the Hedgehog 2. Any Sonic fan will remember this instant classic that is well regarded as the game that pushed the Sonic franchise into the limelight.
How would the effects of CBD benefit my performance with a platformer as opposed to a fighting game? I was excited to find out.
As with Mortal Kombat, my first 15-30 minutes of gameplay was roughly on par with my average. I did feel the same subtle relaxation while I cruised through some of my favorite levels of Sonic but this didn’t drastically improve results.
The following 30 minutes, however, is when I did start to notice some improvements. The same levels that normally tripped me up did seem more manageable.
Importantly, I did get less frustrated when I died or lost in the game. This leads me to believe that there may, in fact, be some credence to the claim that CBD can contain mood-enhancing benefits.
The increased ability to deal with loss, while not expected, is not entirely surprising. The ability to move past frustrating in-game deaths did allow me to play significantly better than my normal average. It was an advantage that is often missed by me as a gamer, being guilty of throwing and breaking many a controller in frustration over the years.
Upon researching CBD for this little experiment, one thing that did occur to me is that the method of administering CBD is one factor that varies depending on the circumstances on the user. According to Cool Things Chicago, different CBD products are administered differently. It’s unclear whether my method of administering CBD could have had an impact on its effects or not.
More important than how CBD is administered, however, is its precise composition. CBD can come in the form of a raw industrial hemp extract, CBD concentrate or distillate, CBD isolate, CBD-rich or Phytocannabinoid-rich oil, broad-spectrum CBD oil, or a CBD-infused product. All of these different formations could potentially induce different effects.
Raw industrial hemp extract, for example, is known as a low-quality form of CBD oil and therefore isn’t believed to contain the same benefits. All of this to say, it is important to note which kind of CBD product is used for an experiment. For the purposes of this gaming experiment, I used a broad-spectrum oil since those products are reported to produce the most beneficial effects.
According to CBD Kyro, one common misconception is that hemp seed oil is comparable to CBD. In fact, hemp oil contains no CBD.
To sum up, CBD did produce some subtle but noteworthy impacts on my gameplay and it could be worth experimenting with for a biohacker or casual gamer alike.