(Lil) Green Patch Combines Environmentalism and Gaming
(Lil) Green Patch is a social gardening game that seeks to better the planet. With over 500,00 daily active users, it’s also one of the most popular games on Facebook.
(Lil) Green Patch waves the banner that the more a player uses the game, the more the advertisers will donate to save the rain forest. In concrete terms, these means that for every ten friends you send a plant to (which also doubles as an invite for those who don’t have the application), they will help save one square foot of rain forest.
The gameplay revolves around gardening your personal patch of land and helping your friends’ maintain theirs. You’ll be asked to help one of your friends deal with a gardening problem like rabbits eating their flowers, and you can buy supplies at “Crazy Al’s Green Store” to help them out. Essentially, in order to individually succeed at the game, you must help other people. It’s a perfect analogy for environmentalism in general – we all must help each other to make a difference.
Very few games could realistically expect friends to help each other out in this way, but in (Lil) Green Patch it seems to work and is a smart adaptation to the social networking platform. You are rewarded for your kindness by gifts of game cash (after you click on butterflies) to help buy more supplies or decorations for your own garden like garden gnomes and flamingos. The artwork is uniformly cartoony, and though not particularly memorable, is pretty cute.
At times I wished I could personalize my garden more with perhaps more realistic looking flowers and maybe some barbed wire (I’m a manly gardener, dammit) but I was able to sell a flower I received from a friend that I found to be too adorable in the marketplace function. So while you’ll be tending to your friends gardens, sending flowers to your friends, and generally being a philanthropist, you can personalize your own stretch of digital earth.
The game has some room for improvement, however. The reward system, in this case epitomized in the form of little butterflies that you click on to get cash; this can be made more obvious so players know what the butterflies are there for. The point of the game, or how to play, could be better expressed in the FAQ section, though the adaptability of the game and the numerous links to earth-friendly websites are nicely integrated.
When you send flowers, it would also be nice to know which friends already have (Lil) Green Patch so you could know which ones would actually like to have more flowers. I understand it’s a subtle way to invite new people, but giving players the option would be helpful. I’ll also be painfully cruel and say that the name “(Lil) Green Patch” is awful and whoever came up with it doesn’t have a future in marketing. It’s a fun game and has a great future in getting people networked to better the planet, but the name doesn’t stick with you and could be branded better.
Good for World: 10