Sunday, November 15, 2009

Virtual Farming

I play Farmville on Facebook. My husband thinks it’s kind of cool. My son Frank and his wife think I’m nuts, but my youngest plays, too and gives me tips as to how to make the most of my virtual farm.

Saturday morning on NPR Scott Simon interviewed Dean Takahashi, a blogger who writes in the Bay Area about gaming and technology, about the Farmville phenomenon. It turns out that I’m one of nearly 64 million people who have a little virtual patch of earth. Three of my coworkers play, too. They, along with my son, are my virtual neighbors on Farmville. One stopped me in the hall last week and we chatted about the blessing and curse of technology. “We just end up fertilizing each other’s fields,” Pat said. “I know,” I told her, but I really enjoy it!” “I do, too,” Pat laughed. We concluded that we’d each like simpler lives, but would never give up our technology.

I’ve spent the weekend thinking about why I like Farmville. In his interview with Takahashi, Simon theorized that while farms are declining in the United States, people yearn for what appears to be a simpler life. A fanciful simpler life. That’s part of it. Personally, in my early 20s having a farm was my fantasy. It never happened, but I can have a virtual farm on Facebook. Are you ever too old to pretend?

Hard core gamers are not attracted to Farmville. It’s not action packed. It’s like…watching vegetables grow. It’s only as competitive as you want it to be. Mostly you’re competing with yourself to get the most out of your plot to be able to expand and to “buy” things for your farm. The game is free although you can spend real money to get some of those things. I never would do that. I’m shooting to get to level 26 so I can buy the farm house I want. When I have enough “money” I will also expand my farm so there’s more room for crops and animals.

And you get to help your neighbors. You fertilize their gardens so they get more “experience” which translates into virtual money and you also get to send them gifts of animals, trees, and farm equipment. In most games the idea is to obliterate your neighbor. I like the gentleness of Farmville and it helps me to unwind after work. It’s a place where I have some control (the animals will walk around if you don’t make them stay or contain them) and it’s replaced solitaire on the computer for me.

For a long time I resisted signing up for Facebook, but it’s been a wonderful way for me to connect with old friends and new, and play games.

Excuse me. I have to go harvest my blueberries and decide what to plant next. Gotta get that farm house!


Grandma L said...

I'm still stuck with FreeCell. If I have an idle minute I play it. I guess it's time to move on with bigger and better games.

Stephanie Frieze said...

I like FreeCell, too, but I'll be you'd like Farmville, Grandma L. You should sign up for Facebook and become my neighbor. :-) I would send you a cow.