Gotta go tend my farm….

So Farmville…..

Until today I’d managed to avoid this application, watching with sheer disbelief as friends on my facebook status updates were tending their faFarmville T Shirtrm and harvesting strawberries and buying cows – sort of wondering how people can be so into this sort of thing.

Today I decided to take the plunge and see what 64 million people were making such a fuss about. . . .

So the gist of it is that you’re a farmer, farming a farm and you have to grow and harvest crops. Apparently you can also buy animals, farm buildings and link up with friends but the addictive nature comes from seeing your very own farm get more and more sucessful before your eyes. Produced by Zynga I can sort of see why people get addicted. It’s not that hardwork and (I’d imagine) easy to dip in and out of it.

Below the surface the game does though have it’s addicts. Quotes on Facebook’s “Farmville Addicts Page” range from the slightly worrying calculator that helps you work out what time you need to harvest your crops (as apparently they wither and die if you dont do it within a couple of hours) through to the individual addicts who

sleep for no more than 2 hours at a time


Im even asking my sis who lives in France to check my farm at night thanks to the 7 hours jetlag… but she doesnt want to YET:)

Harmless enough and an easy way to pass 5 minutes but it’s the Farmville currency that can be purchased for real money (and then not exchanged back) that’s raising a host of ethical questions. Particularly amongst the younger age groups who can do it through their mobile phone accounts. Facebook has a no under 13 policy but that doesn’t stop the 13 – 16 year olds doing it – nor does it stop the adults spending but they should know better 😉 In a recent post Michael Arrington of Techcrunch stated

FarmVille makes clear in its terms and conditions that Farm Cash cannot be redeemed for “real world” money, goods or other items of monetary value from Zynga or any other party. Once real money has been used to buy virtual money, it is gone

If this was for over 18s it wouldn’t be such a problem but it’s not and, as with life, the more money you spend the better your farm…

Another interesting thing I think Farmville presents is how it will impact games such as 2nd life. Previously seen as something that “developers” would play with Farmville gives a very easy way into existing in a virtual world – getting people used to how it works and realising how easy they are to play. What will happen when they start craving more complicated games or is this as far as it will ever get? Will people start demanding animals that move, or weather climates, or watering the crops, or being able to paint buildings?

In community terms I can see how people get addicted. It’s you and your farm against your mate and their farm. It’s making sure things get harvested. It’s a frustrating 2 hour crop “death” window that means you have to keep going back and thats not causing facebook any harm…

I think it will be an interesting one to watch for developments, particularly to see if it has a knock on mainstream affect to other environments. In the meantime don’t forget to get the T shirt and makey our own judgement call as to whether these addicts are, indeed, insane.