Farmville is a web based game that is part of social media giant Facebook. It was launched in June 2009 by a company called Zynga. As of February 2010, reports show 82.7 million active users. On February 4, 2010, Microsoft`s MSN Games has also launched Farmville on its website.
In this game you are a farmer. You have to plow your land and then you can plant various food items and flowers. Plowing, and planting crops costs virtual money depending on what crop you choose to plant. You also gain experience, and this is how you level in this game and unlock more items. You can customize your farm with decorations, design, buildings, fences, and much more. You can also plant trees, and you can have animals as well. Not only can you have your typical farm animal like cows, chickens, etc. but also you can have cats, elephants, and more. After you plant your crops, you then wait. Depending on what you planted, it can take 4 hours to 3 days before you can harvest your crop. When you harvest your crop you get virtual money, then you repeat the process.
Here is where social media comes in. You can have "neighbors" which are your friends on Facebook. You can also give "gifts" that include trees, animals, decorations, and fuel for your farm equipment if you choose to buy any. Added recently you can build other buildings such as a horse stable, but your friends have to "gift" you the items you need for it. They can also give gifts back to you. You can also visit your friends and neighbors farms and do various chores to earn experience. Every time you level or complete an achievement in this game, it gives you the option to publish it to your Facebook page letting everyone know.
From what you just read, I`m sure you are wondering how or why someone would be addicted to this game. I think the addiction happens for some of these reasons:
1. Social Media: People spend hours on Facebook, now you can play a game that their Facebook friends are a part of.
2. It`s easy! You can accomplish leveling, unlocking more content, and earning virtual money without skill any skills involved.
3. The format of the game can make it time consuming depending on how big the farm is. It takes time to plant, harvest, and plow.
4. It is competitive with your Facebook friends, and since there is no real skill, you feel you can beat them.
To some people reading this, I`m sure it is quite funny. There is a Facebook Discussion Group located here. Look at these 2 posts for example:
"When you go to sleep you dream about your farm or lay there half the night thinking how to rearrange your farm for more space and getting up three hours before work just to farm."
"You sit in your car with your laptop in front of the community college so you can use their wifi connection (which is faster than your broadband at home). So what if it`s 30 degrees outside? I`ve got crops to harvest!"
Now look at this post from a child:
"My mom`s addicted. It`s not fun. She`s always playing and gets slightly rude about it. She seriously needs help. Farm Ville is ruining my mom and while she spends her time on FARM VILLE she COULD have been helping me write, but she apparently thinks that taking care of a farm on the internet is more important than helping her daughter do the dishes, or help her with homework. There should be a real Farm Ville addict group. I think my mom seriously needs help..."
The last example is heartbreaking, but very common. Farmville is affecting relationships with friends and family. If you do a search on "Farmville Addiction" in Google, there are various articles posted on how to break the addiction. I read a few of them, and they all have baby steps in them, but in my opinion you need to stop cold turkey and block Farmville notifications from popping up on your page. You also need to let your friends and family that play know that you are stopping and tell them the truth why so they don`t try to get you to start playing again. But the very first step in beating the Farmville addiction is to admit you have a problem.
Tim Martin is a Technology Specialist, If you like his articles, please follow him on Facebook at facebook.com/tsmartin75 or on Twitter @tsmartin