Hi2mommy's Blog

How Farmville Can Be More Than A Big, Fat Waste Of Time

Posted on: November 23, 2009

Those Facebook addicts among us have probably noticed that every fifth newsfeed item lately is about someone building a new roller coaster, adding to a zoo, whacking a mob rat, or whipping up a new recipe in a cafe. Tried as I did to resist, I got sucked into this virtual vortex – Farmville, specifically – by one of my oldest and dearest friends, who swore up and down that it was therapeutic fun. I thought, OK, I’m going to hate this (haven’t played a computer game since Tetris in, like, 1992), but if it keeps me in touch with AK, who lives 2000 miles away, it’ll be worth it – for a while, and then I’ll discreetly sell my farm to condo developers.

Turns out that harvesting crops and petting cows, not to mention watching your little fake bank account and achievement scoreboard rise, is surprisingly fun  – and addictive. As if Facebook, Twitter, horoscopes, tarot, news, etc. etc. didn’t make it hard enough to get in a solid work day and get to bed at a decent time (OH! And now there’s Blip.fm – don’t even! Super fun, though…story for another time).

But as I felt my blood pressure drop while daydreaming and planting pink roses and soybeans, I started to think that there might be some real benefit to this kind of play. After all, the friend who drafted me has a (great, funny, sweet) friend who lives in our town. We’ve become Farmville neighbors, and we’re having coffee this week. How cool is that? Social networking mission accomplished! And may I say, she picks out really thoughtful fake farm gifts.

The feeling was compounded when I started playing Farmville with my kids. I had been looking for more fun ways to pique their interest in computers. Slam dunk! My son has been able to buy three farm vehicles and drive them around the fields, while my daughter has planted watermelons, pineapples and daffodils – all of which she loves! In the meantime, they now know the difference between a track pad and a mouse, and can operate both. Geoffrey can type simple messages on signposts to leave on our friends’ property. Allison types “slkcofiaflkxldkfjoifsfdli,” but with great enthusiasm.

Better yet, our Farmville conversations have taken some surprising and useful turns. As we visit other farms and chase away raccoons or fertilize crops, we talk about how nice – and how important – it is for neighbors to help each other. We talk about our actual neighbors, and I tell them stories about our Farmville neighbors – my friends, who either live far away or, because of busy schedules, we don’t see as often as we’d like. The kids love listening, and it keeps my friends close, which feels good.

Geoffrey has also learned some good lessons about financial responsibility. “Why can’t we get a tractor TODAY?” he whines. “Sorry, not until the bank account hits 30,000. We’d better harvest some cherry trees and collect some swan feathers.” And when we hit the target, his little face glows with the satisfaction of achievement (Yeah, I wish – he’s really just happy to get the truck – but I’d like to think that he’ll eventually make the work-reward connection).

In my own use, I find myself becoming increasingly strategic. How can I time it so that my animals all cycle at once and the crops pop in the evening? What’s the fastest way to get the last 150 experience points (XP’s) I need to move to the next level so I can expand my farm? So it struck me that, if you had an older kid who was a little smartypants in math, you could actually use Farmville as a fun way to hone those skills. For example:

  • Which crops offer the highest return? There are many online “seed guides” to check your answers, but the math is pretty simple.
  • If you have 10 plum trees that pay 18 coins each and harvest every 2 days, how many days will it take to get 360 coins? You can make up dozens of variations on this.
  • What would you plant to make the most money in exactly 1 week (not 6 days, not 8)?
  • What should you plant to get the next crop harvesting ribbon as soon as possible?
  • What should you plant/buy/sell to get to the next experience level as soon as possible?

How many of you are getting a geek rash? I don’t care. From what I’ve been reading, smart is the new cool.

So, looking back, Farmville’s rewards are stacking up:

  • Staying connected to old friends
  • Lower blood pressure from daydreaming
  • Making new friends
  • Teaching basic computer skills
  • Lessons about helping others
  • Warm fuzzies from reminiscing and sharing stories about friends
  • Lessons in financially responsibility
  • Strategic planning practice
  • Math and logic skill reinforcement
  • New coolness from becoming smarter

Add those up, and Farmville becomes a seriously effective time investment.

Please God, let it be so, because there are 3 weeks, 18 hours and 48 minutes (and counting) of my life that I’m never getting back. HEY! My squash just popped! Gotta go…

Farmville Logo

Play Farmville! We can be neighbors!

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4 Responses to "How Farmville Can Be More Than A Big, Fat Waste Of Time"

See you on the farm 🙂

Congratulations on using a “Social Site” to apply socialization to your children!

Most of the time these games are social baby sitters. It’s great to read about the lessons than can be shared with an active approach, akin to reading stories by candle light on the prairie about 150 years ago. The fact that there are real interactions to be shared, concepts and values to be discussed, and behaviors and attitudes to observe, offers rare chances for you to imprint your children with life changing thoughts and ideals that they will use for the rest of their lives.

Computer games don’t have to be vacuums to suck time and a value lead lifestyle from kids. They can serve as the parents interactive “bully pulpit” to teach via a medium that captures the imagination of a child.

You obviously inject yourself into that space and because of their acceptance of you within it, they will benefit immensely. My heart is warmed by your story.

Curtis

Wow, I really enjoyed this post! I have yet to play farmville (I have successfully kept my distance from many facebook games), but I do feel like your entry might have answered some questions I was going to bring up on my blog: http://mymoneypsych.blogspot.com/

I wanted to talk about learning how to save, and your example with your son wanting to buy a tractor TODAY and explaining how much you had to have in the bank first, seemed like an excellent introduction. Who thought you could learn such rough lessons from a computer game, in such a fun way? 🙂

well im not really sure what the 2nd reply post was all about, but i reckon this is still a classic game, whatever way you look at it.

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  • hi2mommy: Thanks, Laura - I'll never give up! YOU post some of the most exquisite recipes I've ever seen. You are going to be featured here very soon.
  • susie: well im not really sure what the 2nd reply post was all about, but i reckon this is still a classic game, whatever way you look at it.
  • Laura: Yum! I love a fruit smoothie - especially on a hot summer day. I'm with you on the fruit - mango or raspberries. Picking up where you left off is a

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