Unlike most people in college, I have had my share of experience with farming. Back in the motherland as a little boy, my grandmother and I co-owned a farm. By co-owned I mean she owned it and allowed me the opportunity to get potentially maimed by helping her farm the land. Some of you might say ‘Oh, you’re probably exaggerating the ‘maimed’ angle for dramatic effect,’ to which I say ‘false.’ You try picking raspberries or cherries and not break a bone or at the very least lose all the skin on your legs from thorns.
I bring up my experiences in the farming industry due to a phenomenon that has gripped Facebook like Tiger gripped any woman but his wife — the FarmVille application. It started off innocently enough, a few freaks decided to try the game. They told their friends that it was more addicting than crack. Eventually everyone and their mother decided to start a farm and try their hand at farming. I held out. Not because I had anything against farming per se, but because I was already enmeshed in an ongoing relationship with Twitter, Facebook and even MySpace, although I quickly got out when I realized that every potential friend could be Chris Hanson.
I didn’t think that I could handle another obsession. Obsessions are easy to start and difficult to get away from.
It all began with one of those annoying ‘You have one Farmville gift’ buttons on the top right of my Facebook page. I was getting tired of ignoring them so I finally just clicked on ‘Accept.’ And that’s when it got real. All of a sudden, I was transported to a magical place where I had to make a farmer, make plots of land, plow that land and decide on what crop to grow.
If I wanted to pause at some point and say something along the lines of ‘What am I doing? Let’s stop these shenanigans and get out of here,’ it was already too late. For one thing, watching your little farmer plant the seeds on the plots of land is exhilarating. Watching the little seeds grow into plants is downright hypnotic.
There’s even a pattern that I discovered (after monitoring my raspberry crop closely for all of the two hours). It goes something like this: When you first plant your seeds, all you see are little specks in the soil. At around 35-37 percent completion, you get a sense of what your crop will look like. At around 66-70 percent you get the miniature version of your crop and then magically at harvesting time there stands your crop, ready for picking.
If that wasn’t crazy enough, you get money for harvesting your crop! Obviously it’s not real money, or the makers would’ve been bankrupt in the first week, but still. You get the opportunity to grow different crops, increase the size of your farm and buy tractors! Where else are you going to have the ability to have a tractor? There was even a moment of lunacy that I had just the other week where I seriously contemplated using actual money to buy coins in FarmVille. But then my rational brain kicked in and told me that if I wanted to live, real food was almost definitely more important to me than the virtual watermelons I wanted to buy.
Is FarmVille the perfect game? Of course not. There are obvious flaws. I know for a fact that raspberries don’t take two hours to grow.
Also in the very beginning of my farm experience, I made the mistake of not having perfectly straight and narrow rows and now my farm looks like Godzilla took a stroll through my crops. Plus, what’s the point of buying a pig or a chicken if you can’t harvest them for the bacon or delicious chicken wings?
There seems to be a lot of things in the game that serve no purpose. Someone at the FarmVille office must have gotten bored one day and had this conversation with management: ‘Hey, I’m wicked bored, how about we include a semi-racist totem pole that people could buy for no reason?’ ‘Done and done!’
But please, I beg you to try the game before you pronounce judgment. You may scoff at my need to check my watermelon crop every two hours even when it takes four days to grow, but I promise that at some point you too will obsessively check your own farm just to make sure that some mythical FarmVille monster didn’t trample your pineapples.
Also, I need neighbors so, you know, get on that.
Maystrovsky is a member of the class of 2010.