The cultural history of cannabis and video games is undeniable. In both stoner culture and video game culture, each has their own histories that intertwined early on during their popularization, as those who indulge both have found them to be a dynamic combination. 

However dynamic they might be, it’s important to note that when it comes to video games and cannabis – a one size fits all method shouldn’t be applied– It is important to choose the right kind of Cannabis paired with the right type of game to get the best vibe possible.

We spoke to Sumi and Kassidy, our budtenders at Highland Cannabis in Kitchener, to share what they know about cannabis and gaming to help pick a strain packed with a strong terpene profile that will complement your high while gaming.

The next time you ask what video game should I play high? Come back to this article!

Highland Cannabis - Cannabis and Game Pairings

A Crash Course in Gaming Platforms 

Video games can be classified by their platforms, and there are multiple types. We’ve moved beyond the arcade games, the industry has expanded to console gaming, personal computer (PC) gaming,  virtual reality systems and more recently mobile gaming through smartphones and tablets. Despite an increase in cross-platform gaming, each medium provides a variety of unique genres to explore.

What is PC Gaming?

Those who play games on a personal computer, using a monitor, keyboard, mouse, or even a controller, connected to an operating system that is suitable for the game they choose, are called PC gamers. Some popular PC games are Fortnite, Final Fantasy XIV, League of Legends and The Sims. It should be noted that PC gaming is often the most accessible to cross-platform gaming; games that are otherwise exclusive to a specific console will often have a compatible server for those who wish to play with PC gamers despite not having servers accessible to other consoles.

What is Console Gaming?

A console game is played on a home console. The device connects to a TV or monitor and is optimized to play games that are made specifically for the designed hardware. Consoles come with their own unique design and features, including a game controller. Some popular gaming console producers include Sony’s Playstation, and Microsoft’s XBOX gaming systems.  

What is Handheld Gaming?

Handheld gaming is similar to console gaming, except they’re usually made in portable sizes. The Nintendo Switch is a popular handheld console. Other major gaming console producers like Sony have created similar handheld consoles like the PlayStation Portable (PSP), which was later discontinued. Animal Crossing, which is a social sandbox simulation game series, is a popular game to play on the handheld Switch device. Other popular games are Pokémon, The Legend of Zelda, and the Super Mario series.

What Are Popular Gaming Genres? 

Platformer (Retro / Arcade Gaming) 
A platformer game involves moving a character through an environment with a series of action-based moves, such as jumping, running, and swinging. A classic example of platformer games are the nostalgic, 2D, side scrolling games like Sonic the Hedgehog, Super Mario Brothers, and Donkey Kong. More modern iterations include Little Big Planet, Child of Light, and Hollow Knight.

Open World
With open world games, a player has the ability to roam the game freely with no driving or objectives. A player can complete story-driving missions to unlock more of the world or complete tasks for resources, but depending on the game, there are either no-progression or progression storylines. Popular open world games with a progressing storyline include Stardew Valley, Grand Theft Auto, Assassins Creed, and Fallout. 

Games with less structured storylines tend to be more resource and building based, fitting into a niche within open world games known as sandbox games. These include Garry’s Mod, Minecraft, Terraria, and Don’t Starve Together.

Real-time Strategy (RTS) 
Real-time strategy games are pretty straightforward, it’s really all in the name. It is a real-time strategy game: you must make decisions quickly–in real time–instead of in a sequential nature as one would in a turn-based strategy game. Map awareness and competitive resource control is usually a large element in these games; players try and optimize their Actions Per Minute (APM) to gain a competitive advantage in RTS games. Many online games fall under the ever expanding RTS genre; MOBAs, FPS, and MMOs are all examples of RTS games. Popular real time strategy games include Starcraft, League of Legends, Valorant, and Wild Rift.

Other popular genres include:

  • Shooters (First Person Shooters, Third Person Shooters)
    Games include Call of Duty, Fortnite, Halo.
  • Multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA)
    Games include League of Legends, DOTA, SMITE.
  • Role-playing (RPG, MMORG, ARPG)
    Popular role-playing games include Elder Scrolls Online, World of Warcraft, and Skyrim.
  • Simulation and sports
    Simulation and sports games include NBA2K, Skate, and Madden NFL, as well as racing games. 
  • Puzzles
    Puzzle games are known as puzzlers, and they can be fully immersive with enriched storylines and environments to maximize gameplay like Mario Party, or they can be as simple as Tetris

Back to Cannabis: How Does Cannabis Affect Gameplay? 

Generally, Indica strains are considered better for relaxation, while Sativa strains are more recommended for maintaining focus and adding a social component. However, there is more to selecting marijuana than simply seeing if it’s Indica or Sativa–terpenes play an integral role in understanding how it affects both your mood and vibe. 

As Sumi explains, the more terps a strain has, not only will one find that it has a more invigorating high but that sensation will last longer. This is ideal when gaming for longer periods. 

“Generally, as a rule of thumb, a higher terpene percentage on the label, the chances are the high will physically feel like it will last longer” Sumi shares while adding an example about two popular strains: The Gasberry Pie versus the Slurricaine Mint. “Both [strains] sit at about 30% yet one costs $22 and the other is $41. What you’re paying for at that point clearly isn’t a THC difference, and they have comparable flavour profiles, but Slurricane Mint has nearly twice the amount of terpenes as Gasberry Pie.” She explains. “So when you buy Slurriccane Mint your high will last twice as long on the average hit compared to Gasberry Pie, meaning that you may smoke half as much and have your weed last twice as long– it’s a better return on investment.”

When it comes to playing video games, Sumi explains that a Sativa packed with the right terpenes helps maximize her gameplay and focus on all of the little elements in a game. For example, if someone is playing a MOBA, there is a constant need to be assessing and stay aware while playing. She explains, “You need to keep aware of the mini-map so you know where other players are. You need to keep aware of what your opponents are doing, you need to keep aware of what the other lanes are doing. And that can be difficult when sober but surprisingly, when you’re high on a Sativa, you really zero in on those little details.”

So for games that require a little more focus and social energy, Sumi recommends strains with ‘Haze’ in the name; they usually tend to have more of those iconic Sativa-associated terpenes. We’ll get into the pairing details with terpenes later, but first, what about if you want to play something to relax and unwind? 

One of our newer budtenders at Highland Cannabis, Kassidy, explains that for her, gaming is a way to decompress and that includes using Indica dominant cannabis strains as a way to facilitate that. Because of this, she prefers solo gaming or handheld play on consoles such as the Nintendo Switch or her Android phone.

“I play more to zone out.” Kassidy shares, “I’m very social with everybody in my own world, every day. So when I come home, it’s like no, this is my time now. I like a lot of puzzle games or things to work my brain, even on my phone.” She shares a game that she played recently called The Last Campfire, which was an eleven-hour gameplay. During her gameplay, she says that she preferred to smoke strains packed with Indica dominant terpenes that help her relax and unwind. “I’ll have more of an Indica because I don’t want to get frustrated with myself if I can’t figure things out, so it’s more of a mellow vibe,” she tells me.

Sativa and Indica are general terms of understanding a strain. To uncover the true spectrum of a cannabis strain, our budtenders at Highland Cannabis, Sumi and Kassidy, both recommend learning about Terpenes and the entourage effect and how that ultimately affects your gameplay. 

Mix and Match: Pairing Cannabis Terpenes with Video Games 

Playability is heavily determined by focus or leisure, which ultimately impacts strain choice.

Sumi breaks down some of the most popular terpenes, the strains they are associated with, and the games they are best suited to. To find out more about how to match your weed with your games with a terpene focus, read on.

Terpenes for Grind Heavy Games

Sometimes a game calls for a heavy time investment in return for a proper payout; oftentimes this includes engaging with a menial and repetitious task. Grinding through games such as Pokémon, Diablo III, The Division, Warframe, and Runescape may be enhanced by taking advantage of specific terpenes such as:

A soothing terpene often associated with chamomile, it is useful for zoning in on one task without feeling under-stimulated; in grind-heavy games, one might feel frustrated or impatient as they continue with the same task over and over. Pink Kush, Headband, Master Kush and Rockstar can be effective in turning a mundane chore into a meditative task.

Despite its overall sedative effects, Eucalyptol hits like a cool summer breeze on a hot day— a burst of cerebral stimulation as your body continues to blend into the fuzzy body feeling of an Indica high. This minty, cool terpene can be found in strains such as Girl Scout Cookies, Super Silver Haze and London Pound Cake.

A thick-scented and musky terpene, Phytol is known for carrying that foggy feeling into one’s mind. Strains such as OG Cheese, Jack Herer and Sour Diesel make it easy to mentally clock out and lose track of time as you burn away at the daily grind.

The critical culprit for that “in-da-couch” feeling associated with indica high— Mycrene is a herbal and earthy terpene that has a notably physically sedative effect on consumers; when one finds themselves committed to a screen for a few hours a hit of a myrcene heavy strain such as Granddaddy Purple, Purple Urkle, or Blue Dream may ease away the urge to switch tasks.

In situations that require patience, one might turn to strains with that sweet, deep woodsmoke scent such as Black Cherry Punch, Mango Sapphire, and Comatose Kush to soothe one’s mood and keep you in the proper headspace to continue the grind.

TL;DR: Cannabis Strains for Grind Heavy Games

Terpenes and Cannabis Strains for High Focus Games 

On the other end of the spectrum of games that are enhanced while high one might think of games with fast-paced and quick levels. 

This category may seem varied— including melody games such as OSU and Beat Saber, sidescroller classics such as the Super Mario Series for Nintendo 64 and Sonic the Hedgehog on Sega as well as their new-age contemporaries such as Hollow Knight or Cuphead. Alternatively, games like Journey, or Subnautica both rely on cerebral stimulation in the same way but instead drive primarily on a solo, narrative-driven experience; comparatively. open world games that send you tailgating fast-paced missions such as Assassins Creed, God of War and Infamous may ask you to keep in mind small side-mission details while you find the most effective means to complete objectives.

Terpinolene is an extremely cerebral terpene that is known not only for energizing effects but as an uplifting and upbeat stimulant. This terpene is useful for keeping one’s mind engaged with a fast-paced task, allowing focus on several moving elements. This terpene is found in Golden Goat, Orange Cookies, Ghost Train Haze.

Soothing and stimulating, bringing in a sense of clarity – that’s Borneol. It helps keep players level-headed and calm; avoiding overstimulation. Some great strains with Borneol are Golden Haze, Amnesia Haze, and Sunset Sherbert.

Linalool is meditative and calming without being sedative or heavy. It increases focus and keeps the mind engaged, this is helpful because it helps players from zoning out due to stress. Linalool is found in Crescendo, Zookies, and White Runtz. 

Caryophyllene is a terpene that is physically stimulating; it does not increase heart rate but increases blood flow. This is useful for keeping your body feeling as stimulated as your mind. Caryophyllene helps players avoid feelings of restlessness that comes with an overstimulated mind and under-stimulated body. This strain is found in Buns n Roses, Wedding Crasher, Hindu Kush.

TL;DR: Cannabis for High Focus Games 

Terpenes and Cannabis Strains for Fast-Paced or Sensory Games

These games include first-person shooters, multiplayer online battle arenas, and other zero-sum-gain competitive games. Varied titles such as Call of Duty, Super Smash Bros. Melee, Valorant, and League of Legends come to mind. Similarly, sports games, such as the annual MLB, NHL, NBA and FIFA releases, feature quick matches that consist of a quick and demanding burst of action. You can play these games while stoned with your friends or dive in for a solo session; the key is that they are usually competitive and social, relying on communication and hand-eye coordination to win matches. There are some terpene repeaters in this section, including Farnesene and Terpinolene, which are mentioned above; as one can imagine, engaging in the puzzles and problem-solving required in high-focus games can easily be transferred to help make better choices in a fast-paced environment. Here are a few other terpenes you may find helpful if you’re looking to try something a little faster-paced or sensory-demanding.

Limonene is an uplifting terpene capable of creating a sense of euphoria. A strain high in Limonene is Super Lemon Haze. 

Valencene can produce euphoria, mood elevation, aids with alertness and promotes cognitive functions. Try Sour Diesel or Agent Orange to experience these effects. 

Pinene can help increase attention and alertness – perfect for games that require learning on the fly and attention to detail. Try Cannatonic or Grape Ape for this terpene. 

Strains high in humulene tend to have a relaxing effect. A possible side-effect is couch lock, but the benefits of this terpene can include providing the player with a boost of creativity and a sense of calm. It also may help with cramping hands from gripping the controller or keyboard for long periods of time as it has an anti-inflammatory element to it as well. Some strains would be the crowd favourite, Girl Scout Cookies, or Candyland.

TL;DR: Cannabis for Fast Paced or Sensory Games

Recap: Cannabis, Terpenes, Gaming

There are so many factors to consider when pairing a video game and cannabis strain. 

Hopefully, the information provided here will help you come up with the perfect pairing based on your own tastes. 

If you are struggling with finding any kind of pairing at all, start small and see what works for you. 

Take note of how your cannabis affects your mood, even if it is subtle, and look for other games that share common traits in gameplay. The best way to do this is to find the right strain by conducting small experiments and seeing what works for your particular body chemistry. 

You can always turn to our budtenders at Highland in Kitchener to help you find what you’re looking for if you still have questions. Good luck and game on!