With the success of cannabis legalization efforts in States like Colorado, Washington, Alaska and Oregon, the future of cannabis looks bright.

If the current trend continues, we will see be seeing a lot more of my favorite plant. With all that mainstream exposure, the image of cannabis will be changing. We already see some of that already.

Shows like Weeds and Breaking Bad were recent attempts to introduce everyday Americans to the world of illicit drugs. These shows rely on over-the-top dramatic situations that propagate more drama. It makes for a great show but it also puts drug use and distribution in a moral grey area. The activities within these shows are seen as evil within their respective worlds. Walter White creates and sells meth believing it is an evil thing to do. The same is true of Nancy Botwin as well.

Nancy and Walter accept that what they are doing is wrong by society’s standards and their interactions with other non-dealer characters work to highlight how outside of the norm producing and selling these substances are.  Walter’s family leaves, Nancy almost loses custody of her children. The negative consequences of their actions fuel the spiraling madness that is their narrative.

I love how video games have taken a similar but less judgmental stance on the use of drugs and cannabis. Game series like Grand Theft Auto install you as a drug kingpin where you control the flow of drugs through turf. Games like Fallout actually have you inject various substances for temporary effect with a risk of becoming addicted and suffering for it. Yet the users in these games conform to the ‘junky’ stereotype and are often poor, dirty or otherwise unpleasant characters.

Drug use may be allowed in these games but the designers go to great lengths to show them as less desirable or less reliable ways to achieve most goals. Censorship boards around the world have had issues with drug use and violence in media since the days of yore. Book burnings have all happened in around the world and games have been banned from being sold without specific changes from their real world counterparts.

What if popular games weren’t banned from including real world substances in a believable and authentic way devoid of moral judgement? How would cannabis look in a popular MMO? What about other substances like opium or peyote? I explore this thought and many others in my book; Please Press Play. It’s currently in the crowdfunding stage at Inkshares.com.

Below is a sample chapter where the character James has just started a new MMO. I can write it but I need help getting the book published. If you enjoy it, I would love your support in getting it published. You can get all the details and learn more by clicking HERE.

Here is the setup.

James is a new let’s-player in the latest virtual reality MMO: Hero Shards. As a noob, James is looking to make his mark on the world. If he can’t get enough viewers, he will lose everything. James is in a race against time to develop a following. What he find’s when he spawns in for the first time could advance his cause or put a target on his back.

James finished loading in and his vision began to clear. He could feel his skin begin to prickle as it adjusted to the low temperature of the spawn. The humidity in the air made him feel colder in the small clearing than he otherwise would have. The undergrowth beneath his feat was made mostly of stiff grasses on soft dirt. He could feel the grains compress below and around his toes and James had to readjust himself to feel secure on his feet.

Feeling vulnerable, James sank to his knees as he surveyed his surroundings. The clearing was about 30 meters wide by 45 meters long and surrounded by pine trees. The biggest trees were about chest diameter and the smaller ones were no thicker than his thigh and there was enough space between them to move around while remaining mostly hidden. In the distance James could hear the singing of birds, the chatter of squirrels and the tinkling of a small stream flowing through the length of the clearing.

The sky was a vibrant blue and the sun had not yet risen enough to crest the mountains rising up like jagged teeth in the distance. The light of dawn was able to filter through the canopy of the trees and give James a sense of direction. He drew in a long, slow breath. He let the scent of the air linger over his olfactory organs and cracked his lips to taste the air as well.

He could detect the strong smell of the damp grass permeating the air around him and could taste the pollen from the pines. He could also detect fungal elements from the bubbling stream that meandered through the clearing. The water smelled fresh and frigid, like snowmelt finding its way down from the distant glaciers. It was faint but James was sure he could detect a distinctly citrus element to the air as well.

“That’s odd. I wonder what’s making that smell.” James said to himself quietly. His eyes widened as he realized that some of the smaller trees he was looking at weren’t trees at all. They were 4 meter tall hemp plants! He knew that this MMO was a survival style world where he needed to play smarter than other players to excel. He opened his UI to scan the plants as he approached them to get an idea about what kind they were.

Flora: Cannabis Sativa/Hemp – Land Race

Strain: Durban Poison

Item: Flower

Effects: Euphoria, pain relief, mental confusion, …

Item: Fiber

Effects: Crafting Material, …

Item: Seed

Effects: Farming, Food, …

“Hmm. Looks like there are a lot of these growing around here. If I remember right, the trees in this game take years to be big enough to harvest. I wonder how long these things take to grow.” James thought aloud. He was fairly confident there weren’t any other players nearby and let his guard down a little. He did a second scan with an emphasis on growth cycle. The additional information made his jaw drop.

Growth Cycle: 3+ month harvestable flower and seed

6 + month harvestable fiber

He searched through other details about growth and opened his algorithm generation screen. He added the growth variables, factored the soil composition and pH balance, adjusted for precipitation and winds and finally added a few efficiency algorithms he had ported over with his account. He finalized the project and brought up the placement UI. Highlighted through the screen were 32 premium growth nodes and an additional 500 basic nodes.

Confident he was prepared to begin resource generation, James inspected the 4 meter tall hemp plant before him before going for it. James remembered how harvesting worked in other MMO’s and figured it would be the same here.

James inspected the trunk and decided he should start harvesting the fiber before he got distracted. He punched the hemp stalk with his fist as hard as he could. The low thud of his fist making contact and the rustle of leaves were the only reaction from the tree. James on the other hand felt like screaming. The bursts of pain emanating from his damaged knuckles was in perfect sync with his pulse.

James could see small flecks of skin and dribbles of blood left on the trunk when he drew back his fist. ‘Why does it hurt so bad?’ he thought to himself as he cradled his fist in his other arm and sucked his breath in through his clenched teeth. After a few moments to regain his composure, James reassessed the situation. He didn’t have time to waste on this shit, he had to get himself stable before he would be able to develop a fan base. He hadn’t gotten his first viewer yet and knew he didn’t have much time to impress.

He pulled up his UI again and searched for tutorials. He found the official guide and his blood began to boil. The guides were empty! There was a stupid message saying something about procedurally generated content and user generated content free from predetermined direction being key to the intended experience. He looked up the plant he had just scanned and it popped up instantly. It had his name, location and level right next to the data he had discovered.

“That means they are already on their way. I have to hurry.” James knew it was only a matter of time before other players came looking for these plants. He had to figure out how to harvest them and before anyone else arrived to steal his loot. He grabbed a low hanging branch and began to pull. The branch was almost as thick as his wrist and even a foot from the split, James couldn’t do much but shake the damn thing.

He managed to get about 3 meters into the massive hemp plant before he could twist a stem off. He had to spin it around for almost a minute and then pull the remaining fibers to the next branching node. When James finally got his first branch, he ended up falling. The other branches kept him from falling very fast but also prevented him from stopping. His naked form tumbled out of the branches with all the grace of a sack of potatoes rolling down the stairs.

After righting himself, James checked for damages. Everything seemed superficial but he had several puffy welts growing around his body. The scratches from his tumble stung quite a bit. He realized he needed a tool in order to harvest this monstrosity of a plant. He would have to come back later to harvest it later. James wasn’t leaving empty handed though. The small branch he had torn from the canopy was full of fragrant flowers. The smell was quite powerful but the flowers themselves were coated in a sticky, crystalized gel.

When James tore a small bud off of the main branch and tore it apart, he found a handful of brown, egg shaped seeds with dark stripes. When he tried to crush them in his finger, most were hard as a rock. The seeds that cracked under the pressure were discarded. The remaining seeds from the small branch filled his palm. He put one in his mouth and tried chewing it.

The hard seed bounced around in his mouth at first but once he positioned it correctly with his tongue, James was able to crack it. It tasted awful to him and he almost spit it out. Instead he chewed a few more times before swallowing the hemp seed. He saw his health indicator reflect a slight energy increase. It was barely a drop in the proverbial bucket, but it was there.

This was going to be a harder MMO than James had realized. There was a lot going on that he didn’t understand. He couldn’t afford to log off, so he set about discovering the rules of the game the only way he knew how: by doing. He looked around and saw that some stones were visible near the bank of the stream.  He hoped he could use one as a makeshift hand-ax to harvest the hemp before any other players arrived.

 

If you enjoy this part of the story, I would love your support in getting the whole thing published. You can get all the details and learn more by clicking HERE. Thanks for readin