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Digital ever laughter
By Johnny Mumbles
There is a magical connection between getting stoned and transmuting your consciousness into an interactive digital world. According to me, with no statistical evidence, most adults who smoke herb are passionate about playing video games. There are definitive anecdotal accounts that being high makes you an even better player. In equal parts braggadocio and shame, I must confess that I have spent incalculable eons with my eyes blazed over, mashing buttons, yelling in futility at an immutable screen. I can’t continue this cannabis conversation without sharing my love story with ganja and video games. This is a tale of two habituals.
Life should be an adventure, whether real or imagined. Video games create a narrative of unlocked secrets and powers up, extra features and final bosses. Likewise, the herbal path has always carried its share of danger and intrigue, mythical strains and expert levels, constantly blending new technology and ancient lore. In a strange way, even as one faces epic monsters and diabolical villains, the virtual world is a safe place to be stoned. I can let go of all of my worries as I play through someone else's manufactured dreamscape. But what if I made a video game that combined them both…
I love video games and reefer and boy have they loved me back. The biggest advancements I have witnessed in my lifetime are in consoles and the chronic. 8 bits to 64, 16 pixels to ultra-realistic 4k—entertainment systems have revolutionized interactive content. Buying dub sacks of schwag on the corner to curbside pick-ups at medical dispensaries, homemade bongs to live resin vaporizers—the last 30 years have been an epic saga of getting blasted to the moon as a cartoon. It’s been a spacey race to the face, and I would be remiss not to reminisce with a whiff.
I was six when my parents gave me the best Hanukkah present of my life, the Nintendo Entertainment System. The NES Action Set, which came with the Control Deck, two game controllers, a NES Zapper, and a dual Game Pak containing both Super Mario Bros. and Duck Hunt. Super Mario Bros. and muther fuckin Duck Hunt! Have you ever seen a kid’s eyes dilate and refocus like a raptor in Jurassic Park, mesmerized by a game on a screen? The moment I plugged in that gray box, instinctively blew the dust out of that first cartridge and loaded it, everything changed.
My first experience with grass was not nearly as bombastic, more fraught with uncertainty and underwhelming to say the least. But once I got the hang of it, me and ganja were like newlyweds, fucking on every flat surface, in any position we could come up with. If it had two holes and wouldn't immediately combust or melt, I smoked out of it. It was the 90s, Sony, Sega and Nintendo were waging a war of domination over the teenage brain and the Internet didn’t work that well. I didn’t understand the value of romancing the stoned, I was trying to boldly smoke ‘dro like no human had chonged before.
The Super Nintendo was, well, super. But the Nintendo 64 nursed me through the formative blunted years of my life. With four controllers and almost every game aimed at multiplayer, I consider it the greatest party system of all time. That is when marijuana truly married into the console family. I will never forget smoking blunts on my porch and duking it out with my homies in the complex as Civilian No. 2, hating on anybody who played as Oddjob. The virtual battles were a place for all of that teen angst and anger to be directed. It was a Dutchmaster era with a Wu Tang affiliation. My TV was 27 inches and weighed a ton. We all sat two feet from it, basking in its comforting radiation. Whenever my friends got together, we would roll that blunt, flick that switch, smoke that shit and grab a controller. We blazed through tons of bush weed, blasting Tupac on cassette, riding through virtual reality in a time machine named Perfect Darkness. Then all of the sudden it was senior year and I was off to college.
The chronic in college contrasted so much with the schwag of high school they may as well have been different plants. I had graduated from hay to headies and the PlayStation 2 was the next generation console to celebrate my matriculation. College was a kush valley of luscious indo in the heart of western Massachusetts. Green trees, maaaddd trees and two more months of cold than I was used to. So there I was, shivering, blazing the finest chiba New England had to offer, buried under a mountain of blunt ash and cookie crumbs, and the PS2 emerged into my existence like a blue whale in a puddle. I found myself stoned out of my gourd in an endless arena only focused on beating my friends' high scores. I tried to slow down time in the Matrix game, while deadlines hurtled at me a million miles an hour. With its blocky facade and interminable load times, the PS2 made every conceivable game concept a reality. That shit was the future.
Now I am in a world of 3rd, 4th, even 5th generation systems and new frontiers of the funk. If earlier console versions captured anything you could imagine, these space age machines embark into everything you can’t. Meanwhile, herb and its concentrated forms are exponentially stronger than its humble roots of seeds and stems. Today, games can be purchased directly through the entertainment system without ever leaving the house. Likewise, marijuana is more accessible than ever before, whether recreational, medical or otherwise. As a result, the stoner gaming culture has become the quintessence of enhancement and convenience. An epic blunt rolled out of all of the blunt roaches that came before it.
Perhaps this interconnectivity of dope and technology is the next step towards the singularity. The perfect blend of sedation and automation. A straight line from the first blip of Pong to the first scene in The Terminator. This is the unreleased part of the Matrix series where everyone is like, Yeah, this aqueous sac looks inviting, this future weed tastes great and fully immersive virtual reality sounds cool, but do you need to stick that whole thing into the back of my brain?
I have other confessions. I’m not really a true gamer and my cannabis habit is a shadow of what it once was. Pot has become more potent and the graphics have gotten more graphic than I comfortably enjoy. I keep to the shores, in sight of the bland, managing my euphoric experience with low-THC, high-CBD herb. Nowadays, I like civilization building games or experiencing reality as a monkey at the beginning of human evolution. In another strike against my gamer credibility, online gaming makes me feel a little uncomfortable. Stranger danger! Especially when those strangers are chasing me around with futuristic weapons on an alien battlefield. Maybe I just don’t have the gaming community to really understand being social in the digital world. I’ll have to meditate on that while I smoke another joint on my porch by myself. Hmm…
Ganja and games will never leave you lonely. Like an old married couple, it’s a match made in heaven with a sentence served in purgatory. But is it so bad to have and to hold a pastime that so effectively passes the time? I can’t divorce myself from the fact that sometimes unplugging means being plugged in. I cherish how video games and marijuana combine to be an effective tool to metabolize stress. For better or worse, they also create a powerful distraction from the real world. Till death do us part, the grains of sand in my hourglass are Tetris blocks and weed shake. Can you catch this bouquet?
Listen on Spotify
You already know this mixtape is about video games and hip hop music. Video game sounds permeate the production of countless hip hop classics and underground hits. Exploring this musical trend brought me back and pushed me forward. Put on your favorite game and light up your favorite strain and enjoy.
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If laughter is the best medicine, then cannabis is the right prescription. Johnny Mumbles breaks down the conventional portrayal of the stoner archetype in mainstream entertainment. Should we expect better? Do we want better? Would we even know what better looks like?