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A nation hooked on FarmVille?


Kelly's farm in FarmVille

Have you noticed that the whole world not only seems to be hooked on facebook, but the facebook mini-game FarmVille as well? Perhaps it’s just me, my husband, and all our friends, relatives, and acquaintances; but it seems like more than a coincidence that so many people are playing. So I got to thinking about this unusual trend: why is this game so appealing?

Unsure what FarmVille is? You’ve probably seen its cartoony graphics on your facebook news feed with messages like: “Tommy just completed level 1 of Grapes mastery in FarmVille!” and you wonder: Why would I care? Well, you may or may not understand the appeal, but FarmVille certainly seems to have a strong following. 

Basically you are fitted with your own small square of land, a Mii-like version of yourself, and given free reign to plow, plant, and harvest your patch of land any way you see fit. When your crops are ready [in real time] you receive coins and buy more dirt squares, plants, and then harvest and repeat. Along the way you accumulate more and more coins and eventually start investing in animals, decorations, buildings etc. Soon you have what looks like a full-fledged farm in what appears to be a more compact and less graphically advanced version of something you might see in the Sims universe.

So why are people so obsessed with this fairly simple game? I’ve heard it’s just a fun way to compete with your friends and family to see who can build the most impressive farm. I’ve also heard that people like that you can send friends free farm items which makes advancing in the game even easier. But my theory is that we crave the instant gratification and fair compensation that is currently missing from our daily lives. Playing Farmville is a similar experience to weeding your front yard: you see immediate results that are proportionate to your effort. In FarmVille you also get a good deal of money for your crops. This is a nice change for a nation under the strain of more work for less money. While employees are expected to cover for those who have been laid-off not only do some accept that there probably won’t be raises this year, some have to deal with the possibility of pay cuts! Not in FarmVille though. The more you put into your farm the more money you make and the more results you visibly see, proving all your hard work. And if you don’t believe that, at least it gives you something to do while browsing facebook.

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