I didn’t get what the big deal was when I first started playing Farmville.  It seemed like a poor imitation of Farm Town, which I was already playing and enjoying.  In fact, I still think that most things about Farm Town are superior–the graphics, the speed, the flowers that don’t die, the ability to have others harvest your crops and do your plowing, the interaction with other players.
But I went ahead and joined up, because I’m a good sport and almost always join a game when I’m invited even if I don’t keep playing it.  And when I found that I was still playing after the allure of other games had passed, I started to wonder why.
I think that the attraction of most of the farming/restaurant/build your own town games is similar–it’s the ability to be totally in charge of an environment that you can completely control.  Being able to design your own perfect reality is comforting in the midst of a very out-of-control real life.  Non-players laugh and tell gamers to go plant a real garden or clean their own homes, but real life is a lot messier than online life and sometimes it’s nice to escape for a while.
Farmville’s genius has been its interactive features.  For example, at Christmas everyone got a tree (a “holiday” tree), and neighbors could send presents to put under it.  Every gift could be opened on Christmas and it was exciting to see what was inside.  And gifts were also available through postings on the Facebook News Feed.
But what was fun at first has grown tiresome as Farmville has introduced more and more such interactive projects–stables, chicken coop expansions, nursery barms, easter baskets, puppies that must be fed to grow up and not run away . . . these are only a fraction of the recent offerings.  In order to succeed, you must allow Farmville to post to your newsfeed.  Yes, people who don’t want to see this can hide it, but a lot of them would rather complain.  And obviously you can’t hide those postings on your own feed if you want to find nails or harnesses or valentines, so some days half of what you see are posts from Farmville.
I gave up actively playing Farmville for Lent, but still clicked on the newsfeed postings and couldn’t believe how much time even that took.  In the end, I think what was a strength in marketing Farmville and getting players involved intially has become a weakness as players are suffering Farmville fatigue.  You never know how many gifts you are allowed to send people or how often, and there are so many projects going on that you don’t know where to concentrate your energies.  It gets to be more and more like a job and less and less like a game every day.
I am receiving fewer and fewer Farmville requests, leading me to think others are feeling the same.  As soon as I have a couple of free hours, I want to clean my farm up and then close it for good, as I already did with my cafe and several other games.  I’d rather use that time to blog! 🙂


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