The Colorado Department of Transportation really, really understands the target demographic for their latest safe driving campaign.
image via Denver CBS 4 screen capture
As most anyone who spent time playing video games between 1989 and 2000 knows: “Winners Don’t Use Drugs.”
image via wikimedia commons
That, at least, was the message emblazoned across nearly every arcade console during those years, thanks to then-FBI director William Sessions who in the late ‘80s, came to an agreement with 20 of the top arcade manufacturers to display the now-iconic splash screen on their products. It’s a simplistic message, with its origins in the “Just Say No” years of Reaganite drug policy. But now that Marijuana has been ok’d in places like Colorado and Washington, with similar legalization efforts popping up around the country, Sessions’ message seems hopelessly, hilariously outdated.
Fast forward to the present, and arcade video games are once again being used to spread a public service message. But this time, abstaining from drugs isn’t the goal—using them responsibly is.
Pot dispensaries across Colorado are being outfitted with retro-looking arcade consoles for something called “End Game.” But, what at first appears to be a standard car racing video game is actually a targeted platform to educate bud buyers on the ramifications of driving high. Weed buyers who approach the console are treated to a splash screen warning that, despite weed’s legal status in Colorado, operating a vehicle stoned is just as much grounds for a DUI arrest as driving drunk. Players are then given a free go at arcade classics like “Frogger” and “Donkey Kong.”
Sponsored by the Colorado Department of Transportation, the “End Game” consoles are part of a larger DOT “Drive High, Get a DUI” initiative. As Denver’s CBS 4 news reports, 20 percent of Colorado’s pot smokers are unaware that driving while stoned is grounds for a DUI, which probably explains why 50 percent of those surveyed admitted to operating a car while high in the past. Twelve percent of the state’s 2014 DUI arrests were for marijuana-related offenses, estimates Colorado’s State Patrol.
Using video games to educate people on how to get legally high while staying both safe and out of jail isn’t simply a clever public service initiative, though—it’s indicative of a larger model for safe and effective drug policy. The model may still be very much a work in progress, but creative measures like “End Game” are a pretty good place to start.