We all have a different go-to activity when we’re smoking. Some like to read and others like to swim or listen to music. Most of us though, have probably fired up a videogame after burning down that joint. There’s something about video games and weed, a synergy that calms you down enough to realize “it’s just a game.” Even if that realization doesn’t make you play better at least you don’t care as much about your final score. It feels weird talking about the top 5 stoner video games when there’s a deep history of associating marijuana and videogames with laziness. But really, who gives a fuck anymore? We’re all adults and we can do whatever we want to relax after a stressful day. So, pull that Super Nintendo out of the attic, pack a bowl of the best bud from around the corner and share our nostalgia as we run through the Top 5 Stoner Videogames.
Clearly this list is biased towards someone’s video game history (mine) but NFL 2K5?? Why a random, discontinued American football game from the middle of 2004? The 2K series might no longer feature the NFL but damn did they have fun while the run lasted. Regardless of player developments and updated rosters, NFL 2K5 struck the best balance between realistic football action and video game excess. Certain players were at god-level (you could run QB Bootleg with Michael Vick every play and score half the time) and once you figured that out it was a duel of skills between you and your friends. It featured a Virtual Identity Profile that allowed you to collect and display trophies in your digital mansion, play in the first-person mode where your field of vision is naturally cut off by the helmet (insanely difficult), and a host of celebrity teams to play against, ranging from Steve-O to Funkmaster Flex. This was the final NFL game made by Sega before their rivals EA Sports acquired the exclusive license for NFL games and it’s a historical relic. It lets us imagine a less monopolistic world where many developers could create their perfect version of the National Football League. That’s the kind of level “playing field” we appreciate and its quirkiness still makes it great after a late-night bong rip.
Super Mario World
I didn’t say get down the Super Nintendo for no reason. Super Mario World, the 1990 side-scrolling Nintendo game is widely regarded as one of the most in-depth action games of that era. It follows the usual pattern of Mario, the dinosaur mounting plumber chasing down the dragon-king Bowser to rescue Princess Peach, who always seems to be in danger. The game is pretty straightforward as far as mechanics go—jumping on enemies, trying to dodge obstacles, etc.—but the beauty of this one comes in the hidden levels. Areas like Star World and (get this) Super Star World are found via hidden paths in levels already in the story mode. Not to mention the 16-bit mazes known as the Haunted Mansions. I think the main reason Mario retains so much nostalgia for stoners is 1) because he’s ubiquitous for all ‘90s kids and 2) are we really going to believe that a hero swallowing mushrooms to fight evil didn’t influence most of our adult decisions?
Grand Theft Auto
Hopefully, this one didn’t influence any adult decisions. Originally developed by Rockstar North, the Grand Theft Auto franchise has been around for two decades and had wider effects on video game culture, from garnering unique critical acclaim and a fair amount of public controversy and scrutiny. When its first installment dropped in 1997, Grand Theft Auto was one of the first franchises to give players an open, sandbox environment. Sure things were more elementary back then than their current iteration, GTA V, but the history of innovation is there. Who can forget the first time you rode your bike through San Andreas as CJ or cruising down to the strip club as Tommy Vercetti. Grand Theft Auto is great for stoners because it lets you decide what video game you want to play, especially now with hundreds of game modes contained within the latest versions of GTA V. As stoners, we love our freedom and sometimes that means driving recklessly around a city in the safe confines of a video game.
Do yourself a favor and go find a way to play Katamari Damacy. Or, at the very least, watch someone else’s gameplay on YouTube. This Japanese game was originally released in 2004 but recently got reissued at the end of 2018. Basically the plot goes like this: your dad is King of the Cosmos and decided to destroy a bunch of stars one day. Since we can’t keep living without stars in the night sky, you have to clean up the mess he left. How can you possibly do this though? Well, rolling every conceivable object into a ball that grows larger until it’s the size of an actual star is a good start. And I mean, every conceivable object. You start by rolling up paper clips and household objects and by the end you’re literally moving mountains. This is definitely one of the weirder premises on this list but that doesn’t stop it from being one of the most visually satisfying games ever. Katamari Damacy holds a place for stoners by combining ingenuity, critical-thinking, relaxing music, and trippy visuals into a fun, easily accessible game that’s simple enough to understand no matter how blazed you are.
You know the world of Pokemon, even if you’ve never played a game. It’s pretty much a backdrop to pop culture video games of the last twenty years. Since the Red and Green versions appeared in 1996 on the original Game Boy, every kid wanted their hand on the game so they could control their own arsenal of monsters and be the best trainer and battler the online world has ever seen. Pokemon has dipped into dozens of iterations, but the handheld versions are the most known. While you have access to hundreds of creatures, you choose the ones you want to search for, train up, and put to the test against other trainers. It’s easy enough for kids to understand the concept, but Pokemon is appealing to adult stoners because of how in-depth the skill statistics and training strategies can be. Plus, it’s great to finally have the patience to evolve that Charizard.
It’s no wonder the marijuana community has been perceived as lazy and unathletic since the coordinated campaign against the plant users in the early 20th century. I’m not even hurt from it because half the time I smoke weed to relax. But everything from Reefer Madness to modern memes and Frank Ocean’s mom portray weed smokers as lazy, stupid and unconcerned. Cuz it’s funny. But there’s one company that’s trying to change that or encourage another direction.
A couple of months ago, Civilized Games became the new name of The 420 Games when lifestyle brand Civilized acquired them. Originally the games were created as an alternative to unhealthy stoner stereotypes and show how cannabis can be used in a healthy, athletic lifestyle. Since they began in 2014, the Games have become a popular event, drawing tens of thousands of participants and celebrity appearances from former and current professional athletes. This June, Civilized Games started a North American tour with an event in Venice Beach, California. On June 22, the Venice Skatepark hosted basketball, BMX and, of course, skateboarding competitions along with the signature 4.20 mile run. Even if you’re not a runner, biker, hooper or skater, there’s still the opportunity to express how cannabis intersects with your health. Civilized will also be hosting opportunities like yoga, meditation, and informational sessions from cannabis experts and much more.