Pot Farm Adds a Little “Magic” to Social Gaming on Facebook

Pot FarmSome people use marijuana to make everyday routines and recipes a little more interesting. A group of anonymous developers have humorously appropriated the plant for the now-commonplace farming genre on Facebook. Their app, Pot Farm, tasks your hippie avatar with growing the somewhat illegal crop virtually — without getting busted by a virtual forest ranger.

The app is essentially like any other farming game on Facebook: plant crop, grow crop, harvest crop, sell crop. However, there are three types of marijuana plants, classified based on the level of “Protection” that they can grant.

The basic, first plant, is hemp which has a neutral protection level of zero, meaning it doesn’t affect much (just like real hemp). However, more illicit, and by extension, often more profitable crops such as the “Time Warp” grant negative protection.

Ranger DickSince growing such crops are illegal (unless you have a medical license, in some states), there is a non-player character, “Ranger Dick,” who can come and confiscate your freshly grown plants. What entices him to show up are the negative protection plants, which are officially called “Ranger Bait.” Should you be in the negatives for protection, you need to make sure you come back and harvest your crops right away before they get taken away.

Now, this feature would be a little bit drab in its current form, so to enhance it in a sort of strategic, balancing kind of way, the developers integrated the third type of plant. These are crops that are “Ranger Approved” and grant positive protection. The idea is to keep neutral or postive protection levels overall.

Pot Farm also surpasses most farming games here, by making its décor do something more than just look pretty. Many items offer protection, from subtle fir trees that hide your little operation, to guard dogs and rope snares. Either way you choose, it’s nice to having an added reason to purchase decorations beyond aesthetics. Additionally, there are any number of other items, dubbed “contraptions,” that can be unlocked at later levels such as a popcorn machine or makeshift brewery. Considering that you can grow plants like corn and hops, in all likelihood, these will become another means of making money beyond selling the crops themselves, adding yet another layer of functionality.

ProtectionThe style of this app also merits a mention — it plays on stereotypes about hippies to an unrealistic degree, that will be especially funny to people who don’t know real hippies, or real marijuana growers. On the downside, the visuals are going to be very hit or miss with most players. The almost top-down, copy-pasted grid look the game has to it is not nearly as vibrant or interesting looking as you often see in other, fully isometric, farming games.

Similarly, the game’s social features feel the same as every other farming game on the market, with options to add neighbors, send gifts, track progress, and so on. They work for what they are, but it’s too bad that Pot Farm didn’t keep up its creativity in its social aspects — especially considering marijuana’s real-world social cachet.

When it comes down to it, the only real concern worth mentioning about Pot Farm is its potential to offend anyone outside a certain niche audience. Considering the wide breadth of users that games such as FarmVille or Farm Town attract, the concept behind Pot Farm may actually be its limiting factor in the long run — although one assumes the developers are well aware of this. The title has so far managed to bring in over a million monthly active users despite its theme, so its unique theme is probably working in its favor, too.