Gaming is all about optimization, and picking the right strain of weed to smoke during gameplay is an important piece of the puzzle. Just as finding the most efficient racing line or the perfect character build brings a sense of joy and accomplishment, so does finding the perfect bud to complement your play style. Rankings of everything from Super Smash Bros. characters to Apex Legends weapons are measured on a scale of S to F — with S being the highest — so we set out to identify what weed belongs in the S-tier of strains for gaming.
And what qualifies a strain to be in the S-tier? Is it one that will make you actually play better? In the world of eSports, cannabis is considered a performance-enhancing drug by organizations like the eSports Gaming League (EGL) that adhere to the World Anti-Doping Association (WADA) recommendations. However, there’s a complete lack of scientific evidence connecting cannabis to improved gaming performance, according to NORML. Organizations like the Stoned Gamer League and Snoop Dogg’s Gangsta Gaming League have come out as explicitly pro-pot in response.
To find out which strains enhance the experience of gaming on a personal level, we interviewed both gamers who get stoned and cannabis experts who game. Different people have different reactions to terpenes and cannabinoids, but we noticed a pattern consistent across our sources. Strains strong in terpenes like limonene and pinene are recommended for fast-paced games that require deep focus, such as Call of Duty. More laid-back titles like Assassin’s Creed or NBA 2K go well with relaxing compounds like myrcene, beta-caryophyllene and CBD.
With that in mind, here are six strains you should try while gaming.
Brian “Skatch” Snyder is the Director of Communications and de facto cannabis expert at StackUp.org, a charity that supports veterans’ mental health through gaming. “Through our Air Assault program, we bring veterans out to some amazing geek culture events like comic cons and game conventions,” he told Weedmaps. “Quite a few of the veterans we serve use cannabis for everything from pain relief to social anxiety, and I have made it my side mission to understand various strains in order to be able to help provide support and advice to these veterans.”
In Snyder’s line of work, cannabis and game pairings aren’t just a matter of taste, but of mental health. “When you sit down to game, you mostly have two goals in mind: having fun and relaxing.” To that end, he recommends Cereal Milk because, “it has a nice blend of joyful euphoria, and relaxation qualities without giving you couch-lock.”
The effects of Cereal Milk’s dominant terpenes, caryophyllene and limonene, give it an edge Snyder explained, “[Caryophyllene] has anti-inflammatory properties and brings that stress relief to the whole body. Limonene really helps with the anxiety and keeping calm and focused.”
According to Snyder, Cereal Milk is best for World of Warcraft raids. “It can be stressful because of all the moving parts and other people who all have to come together to defeat the boss. Some Cereal Milk helps to clear the mind and relax the body so that you’re playing ‘in the zone,’ acting almost independently of thought, and just being really immersed in the moment.”
“I am a big fan of Pineapple Express,” Snyder added. “I have found it to be one of the best ‘get out and do something’ strains around. I love how creative it makes me feel and it just provides a very fun and pleasant high. It is my go-to, if I can find it, for VR gaming.”
King Louis OG
Gangsta Gaming League came onto the scene in 2019, and in advance of the competition, a public statement declared that Snoop Dogg’s league “will most definitely allow the use of cannabis” and that the contestants would be Snoop’s “closest gaming friends.”
Those friends include Long Beach rapper and frequent Snoop collaborator, Young Sagg. He met Snoop in 2000 and they’ve worked on tracks like “Jealous” and “Oops My Bad.” In an interview, Sagg said he learned how to play Madden directly from Snoop, eventually earning the nickname “Bully.”
Over Instagram DM, Young Sagg recommended King Louis OG (aka King Louie) for playing games like Madden — a GGL mainstay — and Call of Duty: Warzone. See him and the rest of the GGL in action on the SnoopDoggTV YouTube channel.
Patrick Haske built his first gaming PC at the age of 12 and played FPS games like Call of Duty competitively for years before shifting his focus to the cannabis industry. As the Chief Marketing Officer for Clear Cannabis Inc, a company that makes formulated cannabis vape pens, he is an expert on how different terpenes affect his customers.
“The ability to dial in with the products and the strains is really what makes a cannabis great for me,” Haske said.
Today, he prefers to indulge in relaxing RPGs like Assassin’s Creed and Cyberpunk 2079, which pair well with OG Kush. “OG Kush is really my favorite because with an RPG, you sink back and go at your own pace. It’s humulene and peppery beta-caryophyllene that’s relaxing, but then you still get the pinene and limonene that helps me focus and stay awake.”
Haske switches it up when he returns to heart-pumping action games. “When I play FPS, like the new Doom, where if you don’t make every single turn correctly, you’re dead, that’s where I go back to the formulated vape pens. Specifically for me, I really like Lime Sorbet — anything citrusy helps me focus.”
“Determining the S-Tier gaming strains really depends on the game I’m immersing myself in,” said Grape Jugo, a film photographer and 3D animator. He is also active in the cannabis industry, and even shot the cover photo for Emerald Magazine’s interview with Black Lives Matter co-founder Opal Tometi. He was also stranded in Spain at the outset of the pandemic because he was supposed to be at Spannabis.
As a 3D animator, Grape Jugo has a unique perspective on gaming. “Smoking is part of my gaming and animation ritual … If you don’t have the perfect strain to game pairing, you can definitely blow your high. When I blow my high, I also play the game poorly, because I’m so annoyed that I wasted my high. It’s cyclical.”
Cinderella by Trufflez is the strain he recommends for intense games like Call of Duty: Warzone, Cuphead, or PUBG. “It’s really all about the terpenes. We all have different needs, endocannabinoid systems, and cultivars that make us feel our best,” he said. “Since there’s little fact behind indica and sativa classifications, it all comes down to terpenes. What we traditionally know about ‘sativas’ is that they generally contain higher levels of pinene and limonene. I definitely need a sativa strain to match my adrenaline.”
Featured image by Gorodenkoff/Shutterstock