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Video Games & Cannabis


There are few things that work together for me as flawlessly as cannabis and playing a good video game. My bowl or bong usually has a place somewhere nearby while I play and – pro tip – load screens are my favorite little breaks for a hit. Like a lot of people my age, I grew up playing video games. Some of my earliest memories include an NES and some strange Sesame Street game with Big Bird in roller skates that I’m not entirely sure wasn’t a childhood fever dream. Now, as a “grown-up” gamer and fairly decent cannabis consumer, I want to share why it’s one of my favorite hobbies, look at the research around cannabis and gaming, and just nerd out all over the place about two of my favorite things for a little bit, if you’ll indulge me.

Tutorial

Even though video games have been a part of my life for almost all of it, it didn’t become one of my “things” until I was in my early twenties. Growing up, I played some of the classics like Sonic and Super Mario, but I also played Spice World, the Spice Girls game for the original Playstation that I remember being better than it probably was. When I was in my late teens, I got my first Nintendo DS and also played a ton of Wii Sports, and although my exposure to video games started at a young age, the scope of games I knew existed was pretty narrow and had yet to catch my full attention. Not to mention that video games can be pretty expensive and I didn’t have that kind of money to spend on things that only mildly interested me.

Enter the Xbox 360 and my discovery of first person role playing games. This was what I didn’t know I needed. It was an immersive storytelling experience that I didn’t know existed and my little bookworm heart exploded. You’re telling me I can wear armor and do magic? Or scale a giant building and swan dive into a haystack? Shoot a bunch of zombies in the face? BE AN ELF!? All with amazing graphics and without the risk of death or injury in real life? Sign me up, buddy. And don’t get me wrong, as a more affluent albeit sometimes still oblivious gamer, I know now that games like this did exist while I was growing up. I just didn’t know about them. Now, a lot in thanks to my partner, I’ve found what I love about video games and they’re a pretty big part of what I do on a daily basis.

Character Customizer

Cannabis has been a part of my life just about as long and seriously as video games now and honestly, their intertwinement is often unconscious, considering I do most things during or after consuming cannabis. There is something to be said, however, about the enhancement that cannabis can provide a gaming experience and the science behind it.

Stamina (+5)

First and foremost for me are usually the physical effects. My physical disability causes a lack of fine motor skills and musculature throughout my body, including my hands and fingers, and playing video games isn’t always the most comfortable activity. At this point I’m pretty used to my hobbies being uncomfortable if not downright painful, but without cannabis and it’s anti-inflammation and pain reduction, I don’t know if I would be able to play as regularly, if at all.

Smoking is my main method of consumption and it does the trick most days, but on an intense pain day, and edible is usually the right amount of full body relief that I need. Topicals are also great for gamers, and it can go both ways! You can use a cannabis infused topical for any pain you may have before you start playing and after for any pain you might get from saving all those worlds.

Magic (+5)

No matter what you’re into, there’s probably a video game world for you. High fantasy or sci-fi, past, present or future, video games have the ability to immerse us in whatever new world we’ve chosen to experience, in a different way than books and movies have before. Now, I know this isn’t breaking news, but have you considered that your cannabis consumption might be enhancing your immersive experience?

When you consume cannabis, the THC interacts with the endocannabinoid receptors throughout your brain and body, giving you that feeling of relaxation and euphoria. In a sense, it can reignite a childlike wonder in things, especially when that thing is a whole new world in a video game. This kind of excited interest can enhance your immersive gaming experience by helping your brain suspend disbelief.

Not only can THC enhance an engaging video game experience, it also increases the production of dopamine in your brain and stimulates your brain’s reward system. So now you can be completely captivated by whatever it is you’re playing and get maximum fulfilment from completing the side quests that might not always keep your interest.

Intelligence and Wisdom (+/-5)

I cannot tell you the amount of time I have spent looking at walkthroughs or official game guides because I’m stuck on a puzzle or can’t figure out how to reach a specific place or I’m lost in some woods somewhere, none of which seem like things that would be remedied by cannabis consumption. But lo and behold, cannabis surprises us all again.

Research suggests that cannabis may increase our brain’s ability to think about situations differently, drawing different connections and enhancing our creative problem solving abilities. You may find that, after consuming cannabis, you’ve found a creative use for an item or you might have a fresh perspective on a frustrating puzzle. Cannabis can also make it easier for some people to focus on specific tasks, and for me, a little extra focus can make all the difference in learning.

This can, however, work against you as well. With our brains working in new ways, we may not be as quick to come to the simple solution as we are to try all of the complicated ideas that don’t work as well. And although cannabis may be a useful tool for focus, it can also affect our short term recall, making it difficult to recall exactly what it was we were so focused on finishing. Fortunately for us, though, most games come with handy quest markers and journals to keep us on track. Use your resources!

Agility and Dexterity (-5)

While some games may seem like they were made to be played while you’re stoned, there are some gaming scenarios where cannabis may be more of a hindrance. Some games require lightning fast reflexes and reaction times and if you’ve had a little bit more than normal, you may notice that you’re taking more hits or downing fewer enemies. Competitive, player vs player (PVP), team style games are not my forte, but I do know that it takes a certain amount of skill to be good at those kinds of games, especially if you are playing at a competitive level, and cannabis may play a part in dampening some of these skills.

Boss Level

By now, I think we all know that cannabis can be used to make almost anything better. Food tastes better, movies are more fun, nature is more breathtaking. It only makes sense that this would apply to video games as well. One of the things I love that is true for both cannabis and video games is there really seems to be something for everyone. There are always going to be the people who are just disinterested, and that’s fine too, but for those that are there are plenty of options to choose from. Maybe an edible and a farm simulator sounds like the perfect afternoon, watering plants and looking after virtual cows. Maybe you’d rather run around the woods, firing off spells and exploring caves between bong rips or maybe you’d rather be passing a joint back and forth with your fighting game opponent.

Don’t worry, I didn’t forget; 420 is coming! With 420 around the corner and many of us still quarantining, online games are a great option for remote socializing. Or if you’re feeling extra adventurous and have a “quaranteam”, a lot of these principles apply to tabletop games as well, so pull out the Dungeons and Dragons and start blowing some smoke!

Wishing the entire Cannabis Cactus family a safe, happy and super high 420!




Kelly Mahoney worked at a medical cannabis Co-op with her mother, Laura Mastropietro, dealing mainly with helping new patients acquire their medical cards and helping them find the best strains and methods. Diagnosed at a young age with spinal muscular atrophy, she was also a medical cannabis patient and still advocates for the incredible benefits, and downright fun, of cannabis. She now lives in a prohibition state as a cat mom and gamer wife.

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