You know how sometimes you just sit at the computer with a cup of lukewarm coffee at hand, idly clicking on your Favorites and checking eMail every three minutes? “Oh look! New mail! Somebody likes me !!” It’s a stream of consciousness sort of thing: you’re neither creating nor destroying– you’re simply THERE, at one with a buzzing pile of silicon and pixels which have somehow been recreated into something that we think is vital. (I mean, you STILL need a phone to dial 911.)
Facebook, as I’ve mentioned in these pages, is a sort of addictive medium in which you can spy on your friends’ doings, mainly because they’ve bothered to post minutely about what they’re actually doing: “I’m making toast … trouble… lasagna. I’m home now… sleeping now… awake now. I’m tired… sleepy… comatose with ennui.”
It doesn’t stop there, however; to keep you even more firmly lashed to its moorings, Facebook has contracted with Zynga.com, the makers of Farmville, to offer its pastoral charms to the masses. Now you can be a farmer without ever having to step in anything gushy, or even leaving your city apartment.
I’m still trying to figure out the point of it all, but basically you start out with a piece of property that you plant crops on. Then you harvest and sell them for more than you paid. Then you buy MORE crops, and the process repeats itself. You can gain more farm coins and credits by buying into the $$$ offers that Farmville partners with, but so far I haven’t had to go that route. (Has anybody? I’d like to know!)
Yes. I’ve managed to plant fields of wheat and squash and artichokes, and have then been able to sell them all at a profit. Right now I’m waiting for my wheat to ripen so that I can sell it all and then invest in even MORE cotton than I’ve already got planted. I’ve always wanted to be Ashley Wilkes! (Scarlett O’Hara was in lust with him, but he probably had sour stomach and sties– it WAS 1861, after all. Who was healthy then? I ask you.)
The thing with Farmville is that your Facebook friends who are also involved with the game begin to send you things: trees… cows… chickens… and the occasional black sheep. The cows and chickens give milk and lay eggs, respectively, helping you to accumulate points so that you can buy even MORE animals and crops. It’s like a Ponzi scheme for the Ma and Pa Kettle set.
And there must be hidden tricks or something: my second cousin Lisa intimated something about harvesting crops even more quickly by having your Farmer character stand on a bale of hay. So far I have not been able to make that happen. Maybe I have to press Alt or something? Who knows? As it is, when it is time to harvest, my little farmer avatar runs up and down the furrows frantically, magically turning ripened crops into coins… which I can then use to till fields… which I can then plant with even MORE crops. It’s endless. I actually wake up at 6 AM wondering if my crops have turned to mush, which is what happens when you forget to harvest.
It must satisfy something in my city-bred brain, because the closest I ever got to farm life was when I came home from school one day, looking for our dog Bow Wow. “Oh, we took him to a farm,” I was told. “He’ll be happier there.” Hmm. He’d seemed perfectly happy peeing on fire hydrants and chasing waterbugs down the alley… but who was I to question? I was only seven years old. “We took him to a farm.” Yeah, right… you mean he BOUGHT the farm!
A word about the Farmville farmer avatars: you can design them to your liking, and I swear that each and every one of the 35 million– yes– players has manufactured an avatar in his or her wishful likeness: mine has a full shock of blond hair; a little pug nose; fetching ears; a puckered smile; and a wiggle in his walk. That’s on a good day. When I really have an attitude, and crops to get in before dark, my avatar has a beehive; Harlequin glasses; a mole; fishnet stockings; and a cigarette dangling from its mouth. “Get the damn chickens outta my way,” I snarl. “I got artichokes to bring in!”
And all so I can buy and sell more artichokes.