Skip to main content

I took ‘gamer supplements’ for a week to see if I’d become a gaming god

gamer supplements illustration
Illustration: Genevieve Poblano/Digital Trends

If you’re a gamer, you’re probably at least a little bit competitive, and whether you’re trying to defeat bosses or playing against other people online, it’s nice to have a competitive edge. This, my friends, is the basis of an entire industry — one that manufactures and sells supplements that can allegedly make you a faster, better, and more capable gamer.

While they’re not particularly well-known in most circles, these “gamer supplements” are available from a wide variety of sellers and come in just about every form you can imagine. There are pills, powders, drinks, drops, and even gummy vitamins; and each brand comes with its own proprietary blend of performance-enhancing compounds. These range from simple and familiar like caffeine or ginseng, to exotic chemicals that sound like they were pulled from the glossary of a cyberpunk chemistry textbook. You know, for those times when the Red Bull isn’t cutting it.

Thing is, there haven’t been any clinical trials focusing on these supplements and their efficacy, so as I’ve done before with other supplements that make big promises, I decided to try them out myself and track my performance stats.

After shopping around online and comparing all my options, I eventually decided to purchase a bottle of VPN gamer gummies. Think of them as Flinstones vitamins designed to boost your Call of Duty skills. The package promises “improved reaction time,” more energy, and better focus; and the active ingredients list includes Alpha-Glyceryl Phosphoryl, Panax Ginseng, Ginkgo Biloba, Lutein, and Zeaxanthin isomers. You know — normal stuff. The other ingredients are basically different types of sweeteners.

The test

To assess the effectiveness of the gummies, I designed a simple experiment. Rather than playing a full-fledged video game that I would naturally improve at over time as it became more familiar (thereby skewing the results), I opted to take basic online tests for reaction time and aim speed. This way there was no room for strategy, and my results would be more clear-cut.

The first test, for reaction time, involves waiting for your computer screen to change color, then clicking your mouse as quickly as you can. You do this five times, and your score is given as the average. I decided to do this test twice to get a more accurate average and help smooth out any anomalies that might be caused by fluctuations in my internet throughput speeds.

The aim trainer test is slightly different. It involves moving your cursor across the screen to click on a series of 30 targets. Your score is the average time it takes you to move between the targets.

In order to establish a baseline, I performed both tests without the aid of my VPN gummies (or coffee, or any other stimulants), and recorded the results. My baseline for the aim trainer was 846 milliseconds, and my reaction time scores were 435 milliseconds and 490 milliseconds, which average out to 462.5 milliseconds.

In the next stage, I decided to take one gummy (half a dose) for the first couple trials, and then graduate up to two gummies (a full dose) from there. Lastly, for the sake of good science, I also took note of all the subjective effects I experienced along the way. Here’s how it went:

Day 1

Upon taking my first gummy, the first thing I felt was a boost in energy. I think my focus was improved, but it’s hard to say. It’s important to note that these effects could have theoretically been psychosomatic. I eventually started feeling pretty wired — as if I had just downed a few shots of espresso. I have chronic anxiety, and I noticed I started to feel anxious.

Image used with permission by copyright holder

After it was clear the supplements were coursing through my veins, I hopped on my computer and took the tests. After taking one gummy, my aim score was 802 milliseconds, and my reaction scores were 379 milliseconds then 287 milliseconds. So my target shooting mildly increased from the baseline, and my reaction time noticeably improved.

Day 2

On the second day, I didn’t feel so cracked out after taking a gummy. Maybe I was already developing a tolerance to these strange ingredients. I noticed a small energy boost, and my focus might have improved slightly. Additionally, after I did my tests on this day, I experienced an energy crash, which may or may not have had to do with the gummy.

Image used with permission by copyright holder

My aim score was my worst yet after taking the gummy, but not by a huge margin. My reaction scores remained about the same, and were still better than my baseline by a few dozen milliseconds. Thus far, it didn’t appear that the effects were particularly drastic. Perhaps half a dose wasn’t enough? Time to up the ante.

Days 3-4

I upped my dose to two gummies on the third day. I would say this day I started to appreciate the gummies more, as my energy went up and it felt like my focus improved too. I also didn’t have an energy crash this time.

Image used with permission by copyright holder

My aim score was pretty much normal on the third day, but my reaction scores were the best yet. At this point, I was starting to think that this supplement wasn’t doing much for my ability to shoot targets, but could be significantly improving my reaction time. On the fourth day — again with two gummies — my aim score did improve slightly. It’s difficult to say whether or not this performance boost would be enough to give me an edge in, say, a first-person shooter game, but the supplements did appear to be working.

Days 5-7

The feelings on days five through seven were unremarkable, and largely mirrored those of days three and four. These things do give you a bit of an energy boost, but it’s really no more pronounced than a standard cup of coffee.

Image used with permission by copyright holder

As for the tests, my aim scores were all in the mid-800s, and my reaction scores were all between 300 and 400 milliseconds. Looking back at the data for the week, these gummies don’t appear to have much effect on your aim skills, but they might have a small positive effect on your reaction time. My reaction time scores dropped below my baseline and remained there for the duration of the dosing period. Perhaps the claims on the bottle aren’t so far-fetched after all?

Of course, this experiment doesn’t prove that VPN gummies will improve your reaction time. To draw those kinds of conclusions, we’d need much more data and a far more rigorous testing protocol than the one I used. But still, based on the data gathered in this very simple experiment, I don’t think we can write off gamer supplements as being complete and utter snake oil. They might actually have some merit to them.

Editors' Recommendations

Thor Benson
Thor Benson is an independent journalist who has contributed to Digital Trends, The Atlantic, The Daily Beast, NBC News and…
Vampire Survivors changed the way I think about games in 2022
A woman plays Vampire Survivors on a Steam Deck.

Due to the nature of my job, my gaming habits are a little unusual. I tend to chew through long games in short bursts for review purposes and spend the time in-between sampling as many smaller titles as I can. I’m the kind of person who wants to see everything gaming has to offer, and I strive to get my hands on an array of unique experiences. It’s rare that I come back to a game once I’ve put it down. Practically speaking, it just doesn’t fit my lifestyle.

Yet that was challenged this year by a little $5 video game: Vampire Survivors. I initially dove into it in February as I tinkered around with my Steam Deck, and I figured those few hours I spent with it were where I’d stop. As the year progressed and I found myself catching up on my backlog, though, I suddenly found myself gravitating back to the mini-action game. Sometimes it was just checking in for an hour every month, but by December, it was the only game I really wanted to boot up.

Read more
Why I sold my gaming laptop to buy a Steam Deck
A Steam Deck sitting on top of a PC.

After waiting for almost a year, I finally have a Steam Deck. I've been excited about this device since Valve first announced it, and although the Steam Deck has some problems, I love using Valve's handheld gaming PC. I love it so much, in fact, that the Steam Deck is replacing my Razer Blade 15 -- a gaming laptop that costs over four times as much.

I won't pretend like the Steam Deck is as powerful as a proper gaming laptop, or that it will kill gaming laptops overall. Calm down. But for me, I can't find a reason to open the lid on my Blade now that the Steam Deck is in my hands. Here's why.
Less powerful, more practical

Read more
Sonic Frontiers is one of the weirdest games I’ve ever played
Sonic grinds on a rail in Sonic Frontiers.

Ever since Sonic Frontiers was first revealed, it's been a bit of a question mark for fans. The Breath of the Wild-like “open zone” gameplay certainly looked like a bold new direction for the franchise, but you can never expect a surefire win when it comes to Sonic and its eclectic history. I personally had no idea what to expect when I sat down for the game for a demo as part of Summer Game Fest; it could have been revolutionary or terrible.

After playing a 30-minute slice of it, I still have no idea what to think. All I can confidently say for now is that Sonic Frontiers is one of the weirdest AAA video games I’ve ever played.
Rolling around
My demo started right at the top of the game. Sonic wakes up in a grassy field after some unexplained occurrence separates him from Tails and Amy Rose. After a brief second of exposition, it was off to the races. I was dropped into a more linear introduction where I learned the basics of how to move, use my homing attack, and solve simple world puzzles. Soon after that, the world opened up and I was free to do whatever I wanted before my demo timer ran out.

Read more