Down on the virtual farm
CANADA: In just six months, a Facebook game called FarmVille has gained nearly 74 million users, who use it every day worldwide. FarmVille is so popular that even real Canadian farmers are playing the social media game.
One of them is Saskatchewan farmer Jesse Horn, who told CBC News that she had spent more than an hour a day raising crops for virtual harvest. Although Horn told the broadcasters she was “addicted” to the game, it fortunately did not keep her from doing her real job. When it was harvest time on her real farm, she left the virtual farm behind. “There was no time for it, so everything died. I quit [FarmVille] so I could harvest for real,” she explained.
Is FarmVille a realistic portrayal of life on a farm? No, says Ben Wilson, a farmer who attended a recent farm expo in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. “It doesn’t depict real farming because you make money all the time,” Wilson jokes. He said he was surprised at the popularity of the game. “They are playing a farming game, of all things!”
"It doesn't depict real farming because you make money all the time," says Ben Wilson.
According to Facebook, FarmVille is most popular with users in the US, followed by Turkey, the Philippines, Britain, Italy and Canada. Social media expert Julita Vassileva of the University of Saskatchewan says the game is not necessarily a reflection of people’s interest in farming. “It provides an alternative world, a world where people can build their status — and people do care about their status. They care about their reputation, and they’re ready to pay real dollars,” Vassileva commented.
Not all Facebook users are FarmVille fans, however. A Facebook group called Not Playing FarmVille has nearly 2 million members. One of them described the game as “mindless, boring, stupid and annoying”.