Farmville: Virtual Farming or Addiction?

Posted on January 18, 2010 in Society

Tanveer Ali:

Do you send messages to your facebook friends asking them to help you out with fertilizers or by sending a cow? Bizarre! Yes, but true. Welcome to the world of FarmVille. For the uninitiated, FarmVille is what you call a MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game). In simple words, FarmVille is a Role Playing Game with 73,860,288 monthly active facebook users; in fact the largest for any facebook game ever. The players log in regularly to live out a virtual farmer’s life. Such games are designed such that it demands lots of time and dedication on behalf of the user. The crops on Farmville grow on real time and tend to wilt if not taken care of in a proper manner. I have heard people saying that they wake up in the middle of the night to tend to their crops. This is what I would call a simplified version of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, not that it is harmful in any way. I am lucky that most of my friends are not that into Farmville or else I can only imagine a homepage clogged with updates about raspberries, fertilizer requests and cattle status updates!

FarmVille (or any other MMORPG game) is fine only if it is not taking a toll on your real life or alienating you from your near ones or making you dream cows and sheep. If any of these things are happening to you, I suggest that you check out this guide to stay away from the Farmville compulsive disorder (Funny name!). Here’s an interesting fact- Farmville users outnumber real farmers in the United States 60 to 1. Does this show that today’s youth are more inclined to farming than other careers? Well, no. Such games come and go on facebook (Remember Vampire wars?) This huge ‘Farmville Mania’ is nothing but a passing phase which can be attributed to urban youths trying to live the classic farmer’s life (I am bored of these skyscrapers; let me chill at a farmhouse and milk cows!) My younger brother is an addict and plays it at least two hours a day, even while travelling on train. Contrary to the point of view of many anti Farmville blogs and anti-MMORPG blogs, I don’t see him spending 2 hours a day as a waste of time. People anyway spend lots of time tweeting or on facebook, so what is the problem if they spend some time growing raspberries and gifting cattle. Both tweeting and growing cattle are equally unproductive in my opinion. Now, if you believe that the whole social networking thing is a waste of time, it’s up to you alone to decide whether Farmville is a waste of time or not. (Check out this debate).

So, what is the whole point of Farmville? What is it that makes Farmville so interesting that people 70 million people use it? They play this game for the only reason that they make virtual money to decorate their farm in an absurd attempt to make it bigger than their neighbours’ farms. The whole point here is that people like to do things in a virtual world that they can never do in the real world. That’s why games like Second Life; World of Warcraft etc are so popular, where you can do whatever you want unrestricted. This feeling of living a life that can be better, more fun or even better organized than their real life fuels this urge to come back again and again to these virtual worlds. Farmville is nothing but a unique way to while away your time in today’s networked world with the added satisfaction of watching your crops and cattle grow. After all, a farm in Farmville reminds me of the old Onida tagline ‘neighbour’s envy, owner’s pride.’

The writer is the Andhra Pradesh correspondent at Youth Ki Awaaz.