A brief story of drug use in video games

Drugs as power-ups

The thought of drugs as a quick-fix to reaching heightened states gels easily with Cyberpunk’s yen for augmentation, yet there’s something fundamental in how all games duty that creates them a common shorthand. Design economy means a graphic consumable that can believably have present effects on a actor creates a ideal analogue for times that bananas and trashcan turkeys don’t fit a mood. This in mind, it’s easy to see given depictions of drugs go behind a ways.

There’s that oft-memed Marcus Brigstocke wisecrack that goes:

“If Pac-Man had influenced us as kids, we’d all be using around in dim rooms, munching pills and listening to repeated electronic music.”

While Pac-Man originators Namco would impute to a consumables simply as “dots” in a 1993 Nintendo game manual, and ’81 and ’85 manuals from Atari and Tengen use a terms “video wafers” and “pellets” respectively, a Atari primer many closely predicts a burgeoning acid-house zeitgeist by fixing a incomparable dots “power pills”. The elementary visuals of a epoch entice projection, of course, and maybe in no tiny partial due to arcade and soap-box enlightenment flourishing adult side-by-side, ask anyone what Pac’s adult to in those condemned neon tunnels, and a response is expected evident – Pac Man munches pills.


In her square Gamers and ravers: The extraordinary similarities between a dual worlds, author and artist Christine Majcher brings adult another cause that creates these cultures such easy chemical brothers – a “worship” of flow. She compares a “magical sought after state, where we are totally absorbed” to a “feeling of upsurge during a rave! – when a ability of a DJ, a preference of a song and your physique reaches a state of sum communication”. As ordinarily seen on dancefloor tats and tees as arcade anthology cases, Pac-Man represents an early mascot for a merging of gaming with altered states. He’s not a many famous, however…

There’s an trusting reason if you’re looking for one. Mario is Italian. Pizza is Italian. Mushrooms go good on pizza. Mushrooms are full of growth-inducing mycoproteins. Not convinced? Nope, me neither. It’s fundamentally criterion that a moustachioed smashtronaut is tripping meatballs many of a time. Also, Miyamoto fundamentally reliable it in a 2010 Famitsu interview, saying:

“Since a game’s set in a enchanting kingdom, we done a compulsory power-up object a fungus given we see people in folk tales erratic into forests and eating mushrooms all a time.”


With a surrealist mash-up of cartoons, anticipation and folk-tale, 1988’s Super Mario Bros 2 is an early apex as distant as certain video diversion depictions of drug use go. Granted, it doesn’t try them really much, yet it doesn’t reject them either. You could even disagree it gives their chain a quasi-spiritual significance, helping a suggested Bros.’ tour like a enchanting boons in a folktales that desirous Miyamato. If this was a rise though, squeeze your Nurofen and vitamin pills, given games have mostly been on a comedown ever since.

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