Ever since Super Mario ate mushrooms and grew twice his size back in the 1980s, video gamers have half-seriously speculated on whether subliminal drug messages are being inserted into games by knowing designers. But a Nebraska-based developer has taken all the guesswork out of his weed-centric game, Drugbound.
Like a growing number of people around the country, programmer Dave Homan views the War on Drugs -- and marijuana in particular -- as a complete failure. And he developed Drugbound as a way to speak out against heavy-handed marijuana prohibition.
The three legalization measures on ballots this fall -- in Washington, Oregon and here in Colorado -- helped fuel the drive for his in-the-works creation. "I think if you are a responsible adult, there is no reason you should not be permitted to use marijuana for recreational use, period," Homan says in a press release. "I also feel that our society as a whole is diminished by wasting so much energy and resources on this weird prohibition of something so utterly and completely harmless."
The format is a relatively simple: It's a nearly eight-bit, side-scrolling game not unlike hundreds of those created for the original Nintendo. But while Super Mario collected gold coins, players in Drugbound collect marijuana that they can trade for things in the in-game store, such as weapons and protection. Along the way, they battle monsters representing government prohibition, death-ray hypodermic needles and a number of other symbolic enemies.
Here's a look at the game:
"The way I see it, the more that pop culture is imbued with images and messages about marijuana, the more accepted the idea of it will probably be," the release quotes Homan. "I want the players of my games to question something they've been taught or told. If someone plays Drugbound a few times and then comes out with, 'Oh, hey, the U.S. drug war actually is racist,' then I figure I'll get my angel wings or something."
Drugbound is about 80 percent complete, according to Homan, and should soon be available -- and free -- on iPhone and Android platforms, as well as for Windows, Mac and Linux computers.