Facebook, Showtime and Marc Ecko's Joint Video Game Project

The Atlantic Monthly Online has an article today that serves as prime example of the ‘normalization’ of cannabis in mainstream media….with a ‘joint’ video game project between three mega brands: Showtime, designer Marc Ecko and Facebook:

After hours and hours spent mastering FarmVille, you’re ready to upgrade from corn and soybeans to a real cash crop: marijuana. Weeds Social Club, a new game for Facebook, lets you grow and sell pot (and potted) plants online.
The game could eventually serve as a testing ground for new characters or stories to be incorporated into the actual show.
Launched on Monday, June 27, to complement the season premiere of Showtime’s Weeds, the game is just the latest brand extension for Hollywood producers who have already mastered action figures, TV shows, DVDs, apparel and more.

“Social games played on Facebook are the new frontier for film and television tie-ins,” according to Businessweek’s Douglas MacMillan. “This summer, two movies — Disney’s Cars 2 and Fox’s Mr. Popper’s Penguins — and a popular Showtime series will attempt build buzz and some extra revenue by featuring their characters in Facebook games.”
Without Jim Carrey’s comic stylings or Pixar’s anthropomorphic four-wheeled friends, though, Weeds is by far the most controversial project we’ve seen enter this space. Showtime — and, like it, HBO — can often get away with racier material because the content they produce is locked behind subscription models and shielded from the eyes of (most) children. While Facebook doesn’t officially allow kids under the age of 13 access to its network, we know there are millions with profiles anyway.
What are they — and the adults who have also been drawn to this extension — learning from their membership in the Weeds Social Club? The game allows users to buy and grow different strains of marijuana — “from downmarket ‘Schwag Weed’ to the pricier and more (virtually) potent ‘Jamaican Ganja,'” according to MacMillan — before harvesting and selling it.
All of the money that players earn selling their weed to a hooded-sweatshirt-wearing figure in the game can be spent on virtual flat-screen televisions, bongs and more. Andy Botwin, a character from the show, which is entering its seventh season, makes an appearance in the game, performing “tasks that correlate with the storyline from the latest TV episode.”
But the game will serve as more than just another way for the Weeds producers to get attention for their show. It could eventually serve as a testing ground for new characters or stories to be incorporated into the actual show, according to Curt Marvis, the president of digital media at Lionsgate,Weeds‘ distributor and producer. “In the social realm it’s a living, breathing experience,” Marvis toldBusinessweek, “one where you get a fan base of engaged users.”
The game was approved by Facebook and doesn’t break any laws, according to Ecko Code, the creators. Ecko Code, a social-game unit of Marc Ecko’s urban fashion empire, is working on creating games for other Showtime shows, including The Borgias and Dexter.

18 thoughts

  1. Kudos! Weeds is a great success. I hope it expands its worldwide syndication into more foreign languages. It’s doing an excellent job of moving support for the issue closer to the legalization end of the continuum, worldwide.

  2. The wrong message for the legalization of Cannabis. The stigma that Cannabis now has of stoners and drug dealers is exactly what is holding back the normalization of Cannabis. I would not consider Showtime, or Facebook the mainstream media that Cannabis users need support from to gain their rights and freedom.

  3. Instead of playing a game do the real thing. Virtual rewards will never match the smell and taste of your very own cannabis. If you can’t or won’t do it at home find a private outdoor area. Tell no one about it! Remember it is illegal big time and you do not want to go to jail or get ripped off. My wife plays Farmville. I tell her get off your ass and grow some real food. The real thing is 1000 times better than la la land.

  4. I agree with #4, that it’s playing right into the stereotypical “stoner” perceptions — “…selling their weed to a hooded-sweatshirt-wearing figure…”
    That’s similar to the BS I was fed as a little girl (I’m 61 yrs-young now), about the black-leather-jacketed “hoodlum” hanging out near the high school, dealing hard drugs, like heroin.
    I also resent the inference that we pot users typically spend our “homegrown” profits on “…flat-screen TVs, bongs, and more.” How about growing-and-dealing pot just to keep the roof over your head, and put food on the table??? Or maybe, like some of us seniors (who’ve been smoking pot since the 1960s), those “profits” enable us to buy our prescription medications?
    I also find this hypocritical of FB, because a little over a year ago, when we Californians were lobbying for pot legalization (Prop 19), with an ad from the Just Say Now organization, FB initially ran it, but then quickly removed it, claiming they thought the image of the pot leaf was in the category of “smoking products,” something they don’t endorse. Here’s a link to what happened at FB last Aug (2010): “Facebook bans marijuana legalization ad” http://stash.norml.org/facebook-bans-marijuana-legalization-ad
    So apparently, FB doesn’t like pot as it relates to “reality,” but DOES like it as long as it supports the derogatory, clichéd “fantasy”!
    And, I’m probably 1 of the last people on the planet who’s NEVER played a video game, online, or on a console. Since the buyer of the homegrown weed is a shadowy figure, it perpetuates the myths about marijuana users. I’ve smoked pot daily for 44 years, and almost always via joints — my old man and I don’t even own a bong! I think this triad that’s doing this “game,” targets our kids, and our grandkids, but I simply can’t relate to it.
    I have a medical pot scrip, and am allowed to grow my own “medicine,” which is WAY better quality, and a lot cheaper for us, since we NEVER have to buy pot.
    Where are the rest of you Baby Boomers on pot legalization? Why don’t you speak up? If we’re ever going to legalize pot, we need exemplary “views” of it (not this tired overview), online and in the media. Stop with the “lazy, shiftless, bong-toting, red-eyed couch potato” marijuana user, and instead, be an ambassador/ambassadress for pot use, like I am, where I don’t forget things (whether it’s 20 minutes ago, or 20 years ago!), I speak in coherent sentences, using polysyllabic words, I engage in the political process, etc. Just the same as anybody else, except I use pot everyday.
    Whatever the outcome of this new game is, and despite those of us who WON’T be playing it, they’re happy they’ve already garnered so much “buzz” about it!
    Stay High and Peace!
    [Paul Armentano responds: I’d concur that there are plenty of examples of major corporations like Facebook wanting this both ways. In fact, just last month FB banned ads promoting my book Marijuana Is Safer, claiming that any ad promoting such a book violates their standards and practices. (FB eventually accepted the ads after we complained.) NORML’s Outreach Coordinator Russ Belville has commented on this dichotomy previously here:

  5. Be damned careful what you say on Facebook – and – that’s all I’ve got to say about that.

  6. This is a sad day for both game design and the cause to end prohibition. What a missed opportunity to actually strengthen the cause and use the game as an educational platform. Hopefully someone will figure out how to really engage with the realistic population of consumers and even uneducated zealots.

  7. OK . Pot Farm [Cash Farm] or other Crop Games .,.
    are the way to designate pot , coca , and opium :
    as the “fun crop” of the future on thoughts about
    cannabis and medicinal plants with Manna n Games.
    Manna n Games actual report about newer game and
    cannabis related role playing {companies} will be
    like taking EverQuest and making it Sage , Grower
    and Druid or Wiccan focusing on outdoor manna and
    Green Earth as a future to begin role-playing the
    outdoor harvests as adventing scroll and quest uh
    role-playing .,. with square plant crop games the
    future to consider the games for fun and roleplay
    as the time when “M Word” former prohibit taxes n
    crops , outdoor harvests and available porchfront
    ideal with Italy hoping to rule toward small and:
    Non-Conspicuous “Amount Cannabis on Balcony Pot”
    or somesuch with the Ending Prohibition a newer
    relaxed “take” on 74 years prohibited cannabis .
    I wonder about Dutch clubs and Italian potting ,
    as the Euro Powers That Be don’t seem to have uh
    their history worked out about background thought
    and what controls the “foreign power about freely
    thought and enacted Peace and ‘liberal’ uh Manna”
    so with the impasse like others complain about a
    power of control and setting to begin likeness uh
    decrim and “medicinal free growing and planting”,
    I will offer “M Word” isn’t the way to legally ::
    Procure the Industry to Begin Available Organic
    Quality Manna Pot .,. “Ma ri ju a na” simply is
    NOT legal and cannabis is not the focus of the :
    1540’s to 1930~40’s to 1980’s “War on Drugs” _\|/_
    so when some group with Game Kingdom Promise will
    begin Manna n Games .,. I will offer the cannabis
    futures are prevalent at role-play and ” gaming ”
    and the Powers That Be will begin Manna Games IF
    we may begin actual not mock anniversary .,. _\|/_
    Legally Procuring Cannabis with the taxes to allot
    Legally Smoked Joints and ” Bong s ” with not the
    Anniversary of the Prohibition and So Forth Pot .,
    though the newer Manna Taxes [like a dollar a gram]
    and not the Federal Minimum Payment Amount what was
    a highly ‘exorbinant’ Grass Tax at 100 dollars fer
    One Ounce {[amount not even legal unless kind bud]}
    and try again with some kinda 20 dollars tax fer uh
    eco~quarter pound [100 grams] and I ask you “allow”
    this comment as I am not “euro background passive”
    ‘about the hearing of supression and control _\|/_’
    and give thought to Manna n Games Powers Being Pot
    with the form , name and designation uhm cannabis .
    Thanks , Hooray . Good luck Weeds !!~^ _\|/_ OK 🙂

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