Many forms of media depict drug use and drug addiction, and while it is still unknown how much truth there is to the claim that depictions of drug use influence people, especially kids, to take drugs it is a good conversation to have. At the forefront of these concerns are video games.  Video games are different from other mediums and draw more concern due to their interactivity and the agency the player has in the game. In a movie or a book the audience is watching the character take drugs, but in a video game the player is either making the choice to take drugs or is an active part of drug addiction process. Many games will give the player a bonus to their stats or new powers, encouraging them to take the drugs offered in the game. Even though most drugs in video games are fictional and are there for the story and gameplay, some impressionable people who have a hard time distinguishing fantasy from reality may want to take drugs in real life because they saw it in a game. To better understand how drugs are depicted in video games here are a few popular games that heavily feature drugs, either real or fictional. 

Max Payne

Max Payne tells the story of DEA agent Max Payne, who goes rogue after finding his wife and daughter murdered by a group of DEPICTIONS OF DRUG USE IN VIDEO GAMEScriminals high on the fictional drug Valkyr. Pyane goes one a one-man hunt for the people trafficking the drug to avenge the death of his family. The game has depictions of drugs and drug culture throughout the game but one of the most powerful ways the game shows the dangers of addiction is in the painkillers Max takes. Throughout the game whenever the player is damaged they can take a painkiller to recover health; this is common for a health recovery Item in a game to be based on a real-life medkits or bandages, but the decision to make the recovery item painkillers and how this is weaved into the story makes for great commentary on drug addiction. In the story of the second game, Max is now completely addicted to painkillers, meaning that every time the player gave Max a painkiller to recover health they were adding to his addiction. Giving the play that agency of having to use a drug to heal the character even if it is adding to his addiction is a perfect metaphor for how many drug addicts feel a physical need for their drug no matter the consequences.

Fallout Series

While the Max Payne series is more subtle and mature with presenting drug addiction in an interactive format, the Fallout games are more direct. The Fallout series takes place in a post-apocalyptic future where the Cold War escalated in the launch of nuclear weapons, turning the world into a wasteland. This world has its own collection of fictional drugs that offer temporary power-ups for a limited time. The player can’t rely on these power-ups too much as if too many of one drug is taken the player will become addicted. Addiction isn’t as much of a problem in this game though as any doctor can cure it for a small fee.  Fallout definitely doesn’t handle representation of addiction well as it makes addiction look extremely easy to cure and that drugs are beneficial at times.

Drug Addiction Treatment in California

Weather games are bad or good at depicting addiction options about the dangers of drugs, or the difficulties of recovery shouldn’t be based on a work of fiction. A  certified professional should be consulted about any questions about addiction or recovery. If you or a loved one is suffering from addiction and is ready to start on the path to recovery Asana Recovery is the place for you.