The Cannabis Industry Finally Gets Its Own Video Game With ‘Weedcraft Inc’
Cannabis is bigger than ever. As all of Canada and several US states continue to move towards legalization, the industry is facing a major economic boom, despite complex legislation and ever-changing cultural perceptions.
‘Weedcraft Inc’, an upcoming economic simulator from Devolver Digital and developer Vile Monarch hopes to capture all of that excitement, fervor and controversy in a fun, eminently playable video game.
While this is far from the first game to feature selling weed as a major gameplay function (‘Grand Theft Auto’ and ‘Drugwars’ have been occupying that space for years), it is one of the first to be largely centered around the the booming legal cannabis industry — and be so lofty in its ambitions.
The game is intended to be very much of-the-moment, with gameplay reflecting the current political and legal climate surrounding cannabis.
“Crazy things happen during the legalisation process,” Kuba Palyska, the lead designer on ‘Weedcraft Inc’, told Civilized. “It is a huge business and some people tend to curb their ethics when a load of money is at stake.”
“In each US state the law is different. Because of that, the rules of Weedcraft Inc gameplay should be different, too.” Palyska explained. “Who do you want to be? What strategy will you use? A classic drug dealer can make good money without paying taxes, but he will be always looking back for the police. People will more gladly buy cannabis when it’s legal, but every businessman should be aware of strong competition when operating legally. It is your choice to be one of them, or someone in between.”
Narratively speaking, the team was also able to draw comparisons between the burgeoning marijuana sector and the video game industry, as both have been plagued with harmful, limiting perceptions of those involved with either. Because of this, Palyska said they tried to avoid pratfalls and clichés typical of marijuana-based media, as they saw “no reason to multiply stereotypes of stoners or nerds.”
“We wanted to treat the topic fairly, so we resigned from obvious, cheap, jokes about smoking weed. It was important for us to show different perspectives of this complex issue, so we implemented several scenarios, each one tells a new story about how a regular person ending up in the cannabis business is more probable than it seems.”
This nuance is important. While they don’t want to fall back on stereotypes, the game is not intended as a vehicle for cannabis advocacy.
“We don’t promote any drug abuse,” said Palyska. “We just want to show you different perspectives on the industry. I would even say that after playing, you will be more aware of how complex the issue really is”.
According to Palyska, play testers reviewing the game have described the tone as “laid back, but never silly,” which he said was always the goal. That is, to be open-ended, satirical, but taking the fundamentals of gameplay and storytelling very seriously.
“That doesn’t mean we aren’t aware of the very peculiar paradoxes of the cannabis world, and how very interesting they are to highlight in satire. Mix these with adult-cartoon graphics and you’ve got something very interesting for a much wider audience.”