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I tried playing video games stoned for the first time in my 50s – and I have some thoughts | Dominik Diamond
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I tried playing video games stoned for the first time in my 50s – and I have some thoughts | Dominik Diamond

I have a complicated relationship with marijuana. I wish I liked it more. But I’m a control freak, and so it makes me relax for about three minutes before sending me into a panic attack because I have lost control.

I live in Canada, where it’s legal, with government shops full of wacky baccy wares in all shapes and sizes. They even have lurid canned drinks, like some form of anti-Red Bull. It’s all very tempting. And I have never tried video games stoned.

You can see where this is going, can’t you?

I select three games that I haven’t played yet on three different consoles: Super Mario Odyssey on the Switch, Dead Island 2 on the Xbox One and Marvel’s Midnight Suns on the PS4.

Beautiful utopia … Super Mario Odyssey.View image in fullscreen

I take my kid’s Switch into my office, where the Xbox One is, because I don’t want them to see me stoned. Not because I worry about setting a bad example: of my three adult children, my eldest doesn’t even drink, my son (like me) is far too neurotic for weed, and my youngest – AKA Trouble – has been a total stoner for years, so the Good Ship Parenting Fail has sailed off into the sunset some time ago. No, I just know that they will find the idea of their rule-obsessed, hyper-efficient, tightly-wound Scottish dad on weed hilarious. And I vowed a long time ago to stop giving them any happiness until they start doing the same for me.

I play all three games sober for an hour or so to get a baseline reading, because I am being so scientific with this study that I may as well be wearing a lab coat. Then I take my edible and return to Mario.

Why am I not playing Mario games all the time, I wonder? Odyssey is so perfectly crafted. The more I play, the more I feel I want to be part of this world of primary colours and good deeds, where even the bad guys are not so much evil as misdirected. I wish I too could live in a world where the solution to any obstacle is to jump on a block and get a nice surprise: a utopia where hard work is rewarded and life is fair.

Yup. The edible has kicked in.

The joy-cons in my hands grow smaller; my fingers larger. Dave Gilmour is singing words inside my head about having hands like two balloons. On a loop. Then Mario is singing them.

My eldest enters.

“You OK, Dad?”

“Yeah. Why?”

“I thought I heard you saying, ‘it’s so beautiful’ over and over.”

“Well it is,” I say, indicating the screen.

“Are you … stoned?”


“Hilarious,” she says. And pulls up a chair.

I then discover that it is really difficult to jump between moving platforms when you are out of your gourd. So I move on to Dead Island 2.

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Not even on an island … Dead Island 2.View image in fullscreen

I loved the original Dead Island, and the sequel sans ganja was terrific. Stoned? It’s a nightmare. The zombies freak me out. I keep throwing things I don’t mean to throw, pausing the game to look at the map and not finding where I am. And all the time my brain is shouting at me: “BUT IT’S NOT SET ON AN ISLAND. WHY IS IT CALLED DEAD ISLAND 2?”

There is just too much to do. Too many examples of having to pick up X, place it in Y to close Z while zombies pour in. I keep getting the order wrong. All I want to do is … nothing. And I want to do it very slowly. And this game is the opposite of nothing slowly. It’s everything fast.


Suddenly ganja gaming makes no sense to me. Why take something that is designed to stop you caring and getting stressed, and then play a game where you have to care about things and get stressed?

“Dad, stop saying it’s not an island,” advises my eldest. So I quit while I’m very much behind, at an end-of-level zombie bride boss.

A tremendously camp Tony Stark … Marvel’s Midnight Suns.View image in fullscreen

The PS4 is in the living room, so now I must be Doped Dad in public. My youngest daughter joins the audience. She is being a bit judgy because instead of a party for her 18th she wanted me to smoke a bong with her, and I first agreed and then decided against it. Apparently this was worse than the time I reneged on getting a dog.

“Oh great, Dad. You won’t get stoned on your favourite child’s 18th, but you’ll do it for the Guardian? This is political correctness gone mad!”

My son is laughing at me too, though I can’t figure out how, because he is 3,000 miles away. Eventually I realise my girls have him on FaceTime.

Maybe it’s because the game is a turn-based RPG with cards, which means it is nice and slow, or because superheroes have silly outfits and powers, but Marvel’s Midnight Suns is actually fun. I giggle at the superhero’s social networking posts; I applaud the camp performance of whoever is playing Tony Stark. The animations are ultra vivid, there is a beauty in seeing numbers get smacked off villains and – most important – the game is ludicrously easy.

Maybe the only way to mix marijuana and games is to find one that is silly and simple. BRB, I am off to play every Kirby game ever made.

Source: theguardian.com