Are you a Farmville fan ?
Do you know farmville ? Farmville is an online game in which people must tend their virtual farms carefully.
AT high schools and colleges across the country, students are hard at work, tilling their land and harvesting their vegetables.
FarmVille has quickly become the most popular application in the history of Facebook. More than 62 million people have signed up to play the game since it made its debut in June, with 22 million logging on at least once a day, according to Zynga, the company that brought FarmVille into the world.
Devotion to FarmVille has moved beyond the social network. Players gather online to share homemade spreadsheets showing which crops will provide the greatest return on investment.
The game starts off simply: You are given land and seeds that can be planted, harvested and sold for online coins. As you accrue currency, you can buy things, from basics like rice and seeds to the truly superfluous, like elephants and hot-air balloons.
Crops must be harvested in a timely fashion, cows must be milked, and social obligations — like exchanging gifts and fertilizing your neighbor’s pumpkins — must be met.
With FarmVille there is a real sense that you’re actually doing something that has a cause and effect.
FarmVille isn’t the only popular farm-theme game on Facebook. MyFarm and FarmTown, which are made by different companies, also have huge followings. Some academics have gone so far as to suggest that their collective popularity points to a widespread yearning for the pastoral life.
“The whole concept of ‘I’m sick of this modern, urban lifestyle, I wish I could just grow plants and vegetables and watch them grow,’ there is something very therapeutic about that,” said Philip Tan, director of a joint venture between the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the government of Singapore to develop digital games.
Of course, real-life farming is quite a bit messier and more dangerous than FarmVille (perhaps just one reason that FarmVille players outnumber actual farmers in the United States by more than 60 to 1). Yet some of the game’s biggest fans are farmers.
Zynga, which is based in San Francisco, specializes in games that are easy to learn but hard to walk away from. It also makes Mafia Wars (25 million players) and Café World (24 million), the second and third most popular games on Facebook, respectively.
Mark Pincus, the founder and chief executive, said that Zynga earns money from advertising, sponsorships and players who buy in-game cash. Zynga has been profitable since 2007, he said.
“It’s really the same formula that makes Facebook successful,” Mr. Pincus said, “the ability to connect with your friends, to express yourself, and to invest in the game.”
FarmVille takes advantage of Facebook by allowing — nay, nagging — players to become “neighbors” with their friends, even those who have not joined the game. Players can earn points by helping with their neighbors’ work. They can also irritate friends who don’t want to play FarmVille with endless notifications and invitations to join, which has led to a vocal backlash.