Farmville is even more of a bummer than I’d originally thought. Cultivated Play: Farmville:

The most important thing to recognize here is that, whether we like it or not, seventy-three million people are playing Farmville: a boring, repetitive, and potentially dangerous activity that barely qualifies as a game. Seventy-three million people are obligated to a company that holds no reciprocal ethical obligation toward those people.

“Barely qualifies as a game” means it qualifies as something else entirely:

The secret to Farmville’s popularity is neither gameplay nor aesthetics. Farmville is popular because in entangles users in a web of social obligations. When users log into Facebook, they are reminded that their neighbors have sent them gifts, posted bonuses on their walls, and helped with each others’ farms. In turn, they are obligated to return the courtesies.

I can’t even begin to describe how insightful this article was. Check out this amazing bit of tid:

Indeed, when one measures Farmville against Roger Caillois’ six criteria for defining games, Farmville fails to satisfy each and every one. Caillois stated that games must be free from obligation, separate from ‘real life,’ uncertain in outcome, an unproductive activity, governed by rules, and make-believe.

The point-by-point refutation of Farmville’s classification as a game is worth clicking through to read by itself.

2 comments left


Dan McKeown +1

I really enjoyed reading that article. Having never played Farmville I cannot quite understand the pull behind it but I have seen how addicted people can become to it. A co-worker of mine was cultivating their crops for hours of the day until realizing how ridiculous it was getting and quit.

I also saw that Dr. Phil had diagnosed someone as having a Farmville addiction (of course, because heaven forbid people take personal responsibility for their actions). This lady was neglecting her children to tend to her fictional farm. It is shocking to me that a person can become that dependent upon such a repetitive task. I have been addicted to games before (and Markoe can tell you that I currently am addicted to Fifa 10) but I still know when to turn the thing off and go to work, socialize with others, shower, etc.

With any luck this is just a fad and I am sure it will be replaced with something equally absurd.

Alexander Micek

Yeah, it’s this ensnaring of users in a net of reciprocity that seems to be the trend — Farmville has managed to charge the user time and money in exchange for nothing… whereas game companies usually provide a fun game in exchange for time and money. I was kind of shocked by the genius behind the way Farmville spreads: you reach a point where you can only grow your farm in two ways: (1) invite friends to be your neighbors and (2) pay money.

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