Friday, November 13, 2009

Farmville- a facebook phenonemon

The California Aggie, the University of California, Davis undergraduates' weekly student newspaper, published a front page article this week on "Farmville," a wildly popular Facebook application. The headline reads, "25 million users play online farming game daily." I have received several virtual invitations to play the game recently, so I decided to read on.

The on line game created by Zynga, a San Francisco gaming company, "gives players a plot of land and online money to buy their first set of crops." Players wait for their crops to grow in real time, harvest them, and take them to market where they can sell their propduce for more money to invest in their farms. As they advance through the game's levels, players can buy more crops, livestock or equipment. Additionally, "players can buy crops with real money." Zynga has raised a staggering $580,000 so far through this feature.

The bulk of the article describe the perils of becoming addicted to the game and the consequences for those who harvest during lecture instead of paying attention. I'll consider myself warned.

I would have liked to have heard more about what sucks players into the game in the first place, however. Neither the brief description in the article, nor the creator's explanation that "'farming is familiar to everyone, which is part of why we think the game is so popular," explains the game's extreme level of popularity for me. Is it just a well designed game, or is there something significant about the farming aspect of it after all?

2 comments:

Slice of Pink said...

To add a legal dimension to the Farmville phenomenon, Kershaw, Cutter & Ratinoff, a Sacramento-based law firm, has announced an investigation of Zynga, claiming that social media games (including Farmville) impose unauthorized charges on users. The firm specializes in class actions and is looking for folks who have been scammed by Farmville and other social media games. It seems that Farmville can suck up your time and, perhaps, your money as well!

Those adoptable pink cows (that yield strawberry milk!) sure are cute, though!

Adam W said...

The NYT ran a piece on the Farmville phenomenon last month. It's here: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/29/fashion/29farmville.html?_r=1&em

For my part, I think the phenomenon is equal parts facebook boredom and cutesy cultivation phenomenon (a la tomegachi, an older trend which is mentioned in the Times article). It's also obviously a creative outlet for some, where persistence, "hard" work, and creativity are rewarded and easily recognized by one's virtual friends.

That said, it is still very interesting that virtual farms have the most popular canvas for this form of expression