Monthly Archives: November 2015

eSports, Adderall, and Nootropics

It’s Lit Up week at Motherboard, which means we’re talking about drugs. And what’s more fun than that?

Weekend/gaming editor Emanuel Maiberg and managing editor Adrianne Jeffries pop some Alpha BRAIN and OptiMind to try and perk up the podcast. We drag in Steve Cronin, a self-taught nootropics expert, to talk about the smart drug craze. We also speak to Rod Breslau, an eSports journalist, to find out whether all this hand-wringing over doping at tournaments is really justified.

Show notes:

1:12 – Steve, tell us who you are?

2:25 – Steve tells us about the drugs he brought for us to try.

5:12 – Why are noots so hot right now?

9:38 – Don’t mix your noots.

10:25 – Let’s talk about Adderall, which was recently banned from certain eSports events because it’s been framed as the steroid of the sport.

11:15 – “We were all on Adderall” video referenced is here.

12:30 – Rod Breslau, tell us who you are?

19:12 – “I think that it has happened and I believe that it could still happen which is why it’s necessary for this, these guidelines to come into place, but I also don’t think it’s as widespread as there would be gigantic names to fall if there were testing done retroactively… though I really do not want to eat those words.”

23:05 – Ramping up that APM, actions per minute.

30:00 – eSports players sometimes sit for up to six hours. Endurance is key.

34:10 – Back to the studio! So, where is the line for drugs that enhance performance and, like, Red Bull and energy drinks, which are big sponsors of eSports events?

37:00 – Steve talks about his experience with Lyme disease.

42:00 – There are disadvantages to self-experimentation. Exhibit A: Noopept.

46:10 – Research on nootropics is scarce. Why don’t nootropics companies pay for more studies into this stuff?

49:12 – What’s the deal with the butter in the coffee?

50:01 – That’s it! Thanks for listening, and see you next week.

When Big Guns Go Down

Earlier this week, Motherboard published a year-long investigation that revealed the Pentagon has been sending defective gun parts to soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. In more than 60 cases, the barrels of guns have literally exploded and, in at least one case, a soldier was seriously injured.


Radio Motherboard talks with reporter Damien Spleeters about how he was able to make sense of thousands of pages of documents from the Defense Logistics Agencyand with features editor Brian Anderson about the implications of Spleeters’s findings. We also talk about the DLA, which spends $40 billion a year but is little known outside of defense circles.


Why ‘Fallout 4’ Is a Niche Video Game

Did you hear? Fallout 4, the video game for people who are serious about video games, is finally out. Do you care? If you’re reading this rather than obsessively exploring a post nuclear disaster Boston, maybe not. Or maybe you’re just taking a break.

The game is the latest “AAA” release from Bethesda Softworks, a studio that’s scored a devoted fan base thanks to its extremely deep, extremely long, and extremely customizable open world games. But the truth is, most gamers will never play it. Conversely, do you know anyone with even a passing interest in movies or sci fi who’s going to skip the new Star Wars?

“Somebody spent a lot of money making a lot of money, a game on the same register as a Hollywood motion picture … that’s what ‘AAA’ wants to mean,” Ian Bogost, a game designer, researcher at Georgia Tech University, and author of How to Talk About Video Games told me. “It’s [supposed to be] a giant, global entertainment production. But you think about it, and that’s not what those games do. They don’t reach those numbers of people, they sell a lot of dollars worth of games primarily because those games cost a lot of money.”

So what’s a AAA game? What’s Fallout 4? It’s a very good game made for people who have a lot of time—right now—to binge on video games for hours at a time. It’s not—it can’t be—a hop-on-hop-off experience like Candy Crush or the Mario games or even something like Call of Duty.

“I think we have to consider the idea that what ‘AAA’ means is not this big blockbuster tentpole experience—which would also mean it’s a mass market experience,” Bogost said. “A ‘AAA’ game is a game that nobody except people who play games knows anything about. This is a niche experience. [AAA] specifies that there are some people committed to playing a game for tens or hundreds of hours.”

Some of those dedicated people are my fellow Motherboard staffers, Clinton Nguyen, Emanuel Maiberg, and Nicholas Deleon. I ask them what the game is about, what makesFallout so appealing to its fans, and, ultimately, if they’re having any fun playing it.

Many thanks to Bogost for joining the show. How to Talk About Video Games comes out this weekend.

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Why Putting Your Waterlogged Phone in Rice Is Dumb and Doesn’t Work

​One time, I misjudged the depth of a creek, stepped in, and was literally in over my head. Not that big of a problem, except I had various electronics in my backpack. As thousands (millions?) of people have done, I stuck my phone and camera in a bowl of rice and waited. A few days later, I pulled them out. Neither worked.

Of course they didn’t. Rice is not a magical phone saving device, as Trent Dennison, a nurse turned iPhone repairman will tell you. Dennison is one of the very few people in the United States who actually knows how to repair water damaged phones. For the last year, he’s been on a personal mission to stop people from ruining perfectly good rice with waterlogged phones. As Dennison explains, corrosion starts immediately after water touches an electronic device’s internal components; the only way you can reliably repair the phone is by getting rid of that corrosion. We get into the science of water damage and talk about what you should do if your phone decides to go for a swim​—counterintuitively, your best bet may be to immediately drown your phone in rubbing alcohol, for reasons he explains in the podcast.

Because we at Motherboard like to make you eat your (delicious) vegetables along with our more easily consumable content, we called in Charles Duan, director of Public Knowledge’s Patent Reform Project to talk with us about why independent repair professionals like Dennison are important—and why the right to repair your devices is at risk. Everyone from Apple to John Deere is hoping to use a poorly written copyright law and other tricks to make it as hard as possible—perhaps illegal—for you to repair things you should ostensibly own.

Radio Motherboard is available on iTunes and Stitcher.