After taking that video, I decided to go put on a heart rate monitor to see what it said. Ordinarily, my resting heart rate is around 70 in terms of beats per minute (BPM). I’m a petite 30-year-old woman who exercises multiple times per week, so that’s a typical resting heart rate, given my situation. On Stimpack, my heart rate was fluctuating between 90-110 BPM. That can be a normal resting heart rate for other people, depending on their typical activity level, but for me, it felt like a significant and uncomfortable place for my body to be, especially given that I was just sitting still on my couch playing a video game.

After completing some Survival Mode, I didn’t feel “warmed up.” I felt freaked out. But I headed online for my matches anyway.

As usual, I played as Chun-li the entire time. In my first match, I faced off against a player who had chosen Kolin, a relatively new character in SFV. This player did not seem very experienced. I lost my first round, though, throughout which I felt very distracted. I won the following two rounds.

While waiting for another match, I continued to feel noticeably fidgety and nervous, in spite of having won two rounds in a row. (Usually, winning a match gives me a warm, relaxing sense of satisfaction.) I decided in that moment that even if this drug improved my gaming performance, I wouldn’t take it again, because of how bad it made me feel. I glanced at my heart rate monitor: 105 BPM.

In my next match, I faced off against a Rashid player. I lost, real bad. During some points in the match, I noticed my heart rate elevating to 110 BPM. I felt like I was fucking up many moves that I ordinarily wouldn’t. After that match, I realized that this was the first time in a very long time that I had actively not enjoyed playing Street Fighter.

My next opponent was an R. Mika player. I played for two rounds, both of which I lost even worse than before. She got my stun meter up in every single round, without fail; I seemed unable to evade her grabs in time, stuck in my own head and plagued by anxiety. In our second match together, my opponent actually seemed concerned about me. After my Chun-li got stunned, R. Mika waited patiently for me to get back up instead of capitalizing on the moment to attack me. Meanwhile, my hands were still shaking, and no amount of deep breathing exercises did anything to mitigate that.

By this point, I had played six matches and I was very tempted to turn the game off. If I hadn’t been testing a drug, I would’ve turned the game off after only four matches. My seventh and final match connected at last, at which point my heart rate elevated to 111 BPM. I did my best to perform well, knowing this was my final match and final chance to win a round. Instead, I got totally creamed.

In spite of my losses, I felt instant relief upon completing my seven matches and turned the game off right away. For what it’s worth, as physically unpleasant as I felt while on Stimpack, I did my absolute best to win every single one of those matches. Even though I didn’t ever want to take the drug again, I definitely wanted to see if it would improve my playing, no matter how physically miserable I felt while under its influence.

However, the results speak for themselves. Out of seven matches, I lost five. I only won two matches, and both of those wins felt unsatisfying because they were against a relatively inexperienced Kolin player. It’s entirely possible that if I hadn’t been facing off against that new Kolin player, I would have lost every single one of my matches on Stimpack.

What was even more humiliating about the experience was that I found myself screwing up very basic counters in the game. The matches didn’t feel like an accurate reflection of my current skill level. I was consistently missing anti-airs by hitting the button a nanosecond too late; same with countering throws. In many instances, I was hitting the right buttons to counter my opponent, but not managing to hit those buttons in time.

In other instances, however, I was hitting the wrong buttons to combat the situation at hand. I found myself making very impulsive choices in-game—choices I would never make on a normal day. I performed impulsive jump-ins and I got punished for it, yet I found myself continuing to perform unsafe moves in spite of those punishes. Even in the moment, I thought to myself: Control your breathing. Focus. Pay attention! Yet I couldn’t manage to do it.

These Stimpack matches felt like some of the matches I experienced when I was first learning how to play SFIV at fight nights in my early 20s, particularly when playing against trash-talking opponents or at crowded gaming events—high-anxiety situations. Ordinarily, when I’m playing matches online by myself on my living room couch, I’m relaxed and playing in an environment that isn’t anxiety-producing, thereby yielding better results than I might have at a crowded public event. These Stimpack matches reminded me of the old anxiety that I used to feel about Street Fighter, when I didn’t feel as confident about what I was doing, or times when I was playing in situations with many people watching me and/or trying to distract or unnerve me. I haven’t felt that way during a Street Fighter match in a very long time, and it was a distinctly unpleasant memory for me.

As a result of my experience, it’s hard for me to recommend Stimpack to anyone, in spite of the fact that it has several excellent Amazon reviews and doesn’t appear to be bad for you, per se. For many people, a dose of caffeine (say, a daily cup of coffee) can have demonstrably beneficial effects when it comes to memory and concentration, provided you don’t have other medical concerns or a caffeine sensitivity. However, taking too much caffeine doesn’t seem beneficial to my gaming—at least, not with my body chemistry. I’m also not sure that the additional ingredients in Stimpack ended up having the effect on me that they might have on other people.

I’m aware that many professional gamers swear by stimulants, although the stereotypical stimulant of choice for pro gamers isn’t caffeine, but Adderall (amphetamines) or Ritalin (methylphenidate). I didn’t snort any addies for the sake of this article, but let’s just say that I have enough experience with the world of stimulants to feel very skeptical as to whether a high dosage of either Adderrall or Ritalin would improve my SFV game. At the very least, I can tell you that taking a bunch of caffeine did not help me out. It actively hindered me, plus it made me feel like total shit for a whole afternoon.

The environment of a tournament is likely to produce a lot of adrenaline in the average person. Part of the training to become good at fighting games, at least for me, involves the quieting of those nerves, and the redirection of that adrenaline into playing better, rather than panicking. When I’ve competed in tournaments, I’ve found my own heart rate and my nerves to be my worst enemy. Throwing a stimulant into the mix is a recipe for disaster.

For me, I’ve found the best gaming drug regimen is a good night’s sleep, regular meals, occasional exercise, and maybe an open window to let in some sunlight. (And cocaine. Did I forget to mention that? Love the stuff!)