April 19, 2011 at 6:49 PM ET
Let's just say this is not your grandmother's "FarmVille." Unless, of course, your grandmother was a hippie in the '60s ... in which case, dude, this is totally her kind of "FarmVille."
I'm talking about "Pot Farm" — a Facebook game that takes everything you love about "FarmVille" and adds a forest full of marijuana to it. And some hippies. Some dirty, nearly naked hippies.
Created by Downtown Eastside Games — a Canadian company (of course!) — "Pot Farm" was just named a finalist for Best Social/Casual Game at this year's Canadian Videogame Awards. (In case you didn't know, the Canadians totally love the cannabis.)
And now Downtown has launched "Pot Farm Raiders," which basically replaces the menacing mobsters in Zynga's hit game "Mafia Wars" with a bunch of not-so-menacing stoners.
The developers call "Pot Farm" a "friendly woodland growing game, chilled out camping with a bit of gardening on the side." And though the game launched last year, it appears to have finally, truly, arrived. That is, a Fox News channel has done a piece on the "controversy" surrounding the game.
Meanwhile "Pot Farm Raiders" is a game in which you "harvest crops, go on epic missions and raid your neighbors." That's right ... your stash and your snacks will never be safe again.
As half-baked as these games might sound, you know what, they're not just blowing smoke. I spent some time playing "Pot Farm" (for research purposes of course) and it's actually quite a lot of fun — if you think growing digital weed on Facebook is fun, that is. (Though, a warning: as "Pot Farm's" loading page says, this game is not meant for anyone under 21.)
"Pot Farm" follows the standard "FarmVille" formula. You plant, grow and harvest different strains of marijuana — Maui Waui, Easy Rider and Blue Dynamite — only you don't do it on a farm, you do it in the forest. You then sell off your stash for money. You can use that money to buy things to decorate your plot of land — a hippie bus, a swimmin' hole, a geodesic dome. You may also work your way toward a whiskey still and a nacho machine.
You can play the game as a bearded hippie dude or as a dreadlocked hippie woman — complete with ugly sandals. But spend a bit of the coin you earned selling bud and you can dress your avatar in all sorts of granola-wear. Or, if you prefer the natural look, you can have your avatar conduct his or her farming chores in the nude. (Well, there is a hemp leaf to cover your naughty bits.)
Funny thing about "Pot Farm" though ... like most "FarmVille"-style games it requires you to be quite industrious. It doesn't take long before a list of quests has piled up, forcing you to shake off that purple haze and do things like rally groups of pot heads and send a bunch of 420 Blues (a kind of plant) to your friends.
And you'll have to watch out for Ranger Dick. If you haven't tended to your protection points, he'll rain on your ganja parade. Dude, it's enough to give a hard-working toker a bad case of the munchies.
All in all, "Pot Farm" features some decent production values and a zany sense of humor (check out the sketchy wildlife) and that's enough to keep me coming back. Of course, "Pot Farm" and "Pot Farm Raiders" boast nowhere near the number of players who participate in the Zynga games they're based on. "Pot Farm Raiders," for example, currently counts 71,924 monthly active users. That's small potatoes compared to the 14 million monthly active users "Mafia Wars" boasts.
And "Pot Farm" and "Pot Farm Raiders" are going to face an uphill battle when it comes to pulling in new players. That is — the problem with playing "Pot Farm" on Facebook is that, well, all your friends will know you're playing "Pot Farm."
And while growing make-believe marijuana was not illegal last time I looked, over and over again we're reminded that bosses and other nosy superiors can easily get up in your Facebook business. And unless you're paid to write about Facebook games for a living, digital drug farming might not be good for your career.
If that somehow seems unfair, then the makers of "Pot Farm" are encouraging players to join one of the many 4/20 rallies taking place today. (If you don't know why the date 4/20 matters, "Pot Farm" is not for you.) While you're there, just be sure to rally for your right to grow digital pot.
(Thanks to Kotaku for the heads up.)
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