Thursday, February 03, 2011

FarmVille: A Philosophical Justification

If you're a regular reader of this blog then no doubt an air of snobbery has shone through at one point or another. I scoff at bad taste yet, in what appears the height of hypocrisy, I must confess that I, like many other Facebook friends of yours, am a FarmVille tragic.

Quickly, for the uninitiated, FarmVille is a game where you plant make believe crops, wait for them to "grow", then harvest them and reap the profits. The more crops you grow, the more pretend money you earn and the more pretend decorations and enhancements you can buy for your property. "How do you win?" asked my befuddled husband. It's not a competition, for if it was, I'd do nothing else, given my disturbing competitive streak. Instead, friends play simultaneously but you're all there to help each other out and be rewarded with more crap for your farm.

Like all you haters, I too was one. Why was my Facebook feed littered with post after post about people's stupid crops and eggs and why the fuck did they keep bugging me to join and giving me cows? Because they need more neighbours to get certain things. I found ways to block it and had it that way until Thanksgiving 2009. While celebrating the feast with my sister-in-law and the crew of the boat she captains, I found myself immersed in FarmVille chatter. They begged me to join, but I refused. I finally agreed to be shown how it all worked. As it turned out, I had quite a back log of gifts of fruit trees and animals so I was off to a good start. For the next three days straight, all I did was work on my stupid farm.

My farm. Designed for maximum fun and minimal work. Click here to see larger image.

Once I got the whole thing going, I chose crops that only needed to be harvested once a day to prevent me from spending too much time on it. Once I collected lots of items and money I set about creating a happy little world for me and my animals. Given the current state of my real life finances and with no windfall in sight, it seemed unlikely I was ever going have such a large acreage in real life, so I bought a cottage, plowed and planted, made spacious pens for my animals and nice little nooks around the property to relax and read a book. I'm pleased to say I never actually spent time outside of the game walking around my farm in my mind, but while I was building it, I indeed thought about the livability of it and strove to make it everything I would never be able to afford. And with all those luxuries, I'll never forget the thrill the day I opened a mystery egg and found an elusive outhouse! I'd been busting to pee for months.

Some people spend all their cash on coloured bales of hay so they can do shit like this.

After a while, when I had a large area of plots in the middle of my farm, I realised I was spending way too much time working and had not enough time or room for decorating. After amassing a decent sum of money, I cut my number of crops in half, moved them all the perimeters of my property and worked the bare minimum to sustain my leisure land, much like I aspire to do in real life. My farm now boasts a castle, a second house with a large yard, a picnic area and most importantly, the tiki oasis of my dreams.

My tiki oasis complete with tiki house, tiki hut, tiki bar, tiki stage, vocano and filled with banana, date, pomegranate, lychee and avocado trees. For a larger view, click here.

My drive to play is not the same as everyone else's for many simply seem to enjoy toiling in their fields, raking in the cash and XP (experience) points, and letting it sit in the bank. I can only guess that this is what they are doing as their farms consist of hundreds of plots and missing all the themed homes and buildings and fun to be bought with the earnings. If this is a reflection of people's real lives, I don't know, but I'm always surprised to see FarmVille farmers doing to the equivalent of an 80 hour work week with no time for fun.

All work and no play.

The idea of the American dream is nice, but we don't all start out from the same place to get it. Some are better off that average and others are far worse off, yet people like to pretend that hard work and perseverance can get everybody all that they want. This is entirely untrue, but FarmVille allows for that dream to be realised. No-one has an advantage. The same amount of work (and by work, I mean "clicks") will yield the same results. More clicks, more cash, and eventually you can buy your own ski lodge.  Actually, I guess you do need to have enough money to own a computer.

For the record, I only post FarmVille stuff to other FV players. I remember what it was like to be a hater. Please don't unfriend me unless for this unless you just think I'm a dickhead now.
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