Thousands of intelligent men and women – most of whom have real lives and careers – are spending hours rescuing lost calfs or planting tomatoes on fantasy farms on Zynga’s FarmVille. Why? And why have I become one of them?
Speculation runs from evil plots (remember the Alex Baldwin commercials for Hulu.com?) through relaxation to community-building. Early on, Andy Wibbels remarked early on that he wondered what would happen if he spent as much time on his business as he did to farming. I think he got his answer, because he’s left the farm and his business ventures are thriving.
Most of us were lured in by a friend. Mine was someone who missed her farmland origins. I tried farming, and I was hooked. As an urban dweller, the closest I come to a farm or a farmer on a regular basis is the Union Square Greenmarket. It was peaceful to plant and harvest virtual produce. It didn’t take a lot of time, though, to get caught up in “the sparklies” – all the little extra doo-dads for the farm.
Communities began to grow as farmers acquired neighbors and earned points for performing various chores on each other’s farms. Now, FarmVille has introduced Co-ops. Teams work together to bring in a large harvest. Here’s where teamwork and cooperation really begin to peak. A band of farmers figures out how to work together to plant exactly the right number of items to meet their collective goal.
Insanity? Maybe. But there are life lessons here. As other writers have pointed out, this does build community. If I could cooperate with my real neighbors the same way I do with my virtual ones, we could do wonderful things to improve our community.
If I could build a business team half as efficient as my FarmVille co-op, I would be doing very, very well. And if I were to be half as persistent with working on my blog or my book or workshops as I am with feeding my virtual puppy, I’d be realizing more real dreams than virtual ones.
Will that happen? Well, this post is a start!