In 1984, developer John E. Dell introduced to the world to Drug Wars (later renamed Dope Wars), a game where players are loaned virtual money and given thirty days to not only pay it back but also turn a profit; and thus the first drug trafficking game and opportunity for young entrepreneurs to build a virtual marijuana empire was born.
“Since its inception, Dope Wars has nearly traversed every conceivable electronic device, cementing its legacy as the first offering from the gaming industry that openly used marijuana as the basis of its interaction with players”
Four years later the Anti-Drug Abuse Act was passed alongside the release of the arcade cult classic Narc; the game where the players are given rocket launchers and the task of destroying druggies on the mean streets of Washington D.C. Fast forward several more years to the rebirth of Narc, revamped and re-released this time, placing players into the roles of corrupt cops that occasionally use drugs confiscated from criminals as in-game power ups. Marijuana caused the entire world to move in slow motion, similar to “bullet time” in The Matrix, while other movements were followed by spirals of color. This is typically the standard “stoned” effect featured in video games sometimes accompanied by the occasional hallucinations of killer clowns or little green men.
2008’s Saints Row 2 and 2012’s Far Cry 3 also featured memorable Mary Jane moments: In Saints Row 2 your character can purchase and puff pot, turning the entire screen into a strange, wavy, “gold fish inside of a bowl” visual. Careful though, if cops catch you burning grass in the game you’ll be pepper-sprayed on sight. In Far Cry 3 you play as Jason Brody, a guy assigned the unspeakable task of torching an entire pirate pot farm while Damien Marley Jr. blares in the background.
Rockstar’s Grand Theft Auto franchise, “a sandbox game that allows you to do a plethora of illegal activities with a light glaze of ridiculousness thrown on top,” is probably one of the more recognizable titles when it comes to 420 friendly gaming. Several editions from the franchise include various levels of marijuana activity with everything from simply hitting a bong to running a million dollar medical marijuana business. GTA IV features a website, flyhighpizzapie.com, which sells and delivers virtual edibles to players. The most recent GTA V offers a few bud based missions, allows players the privilege of smoking medical marijuana and offers the opportunity to open up your own dispensary on the beach. From virtual partaking to policing, pot has come full circle.