FarmVille: Enemy of the 21st Century?

Posted on May 22, 2011

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If you’re active on the internet, have had a conversation with someone who is active on the internet, or well, if you simply exist in the 21st century, you’ve heard of Farmville. On the off-chance that you haven’t, I’ll mention that it’s a virtual farming game, produced by Zynga, that became popular when first hosted by Facebook. Next to Rebecca Black, the poor game has probably gotten the worst press of the year. It’s been referenced in what seems like article after article after article (This is the most recent one I can recall) as the implied bane of technology. So, what I’m really wondering is, why Farmville? Yes, it’s a complete and utter waste of time and brainpower, but surely there are worse games out there?

Rebecca Black enjoys a ride in a car full of 13-year-olds in her music video "Friday"

It would seem that Farmville’s popularity is just the problem; Farmville is the game we hate to love, and has continued to intrigue children and adults alike despite its negative press. No matter how much we try to break it down, we keep going back to it, even if it means hiding every notification that it posts on our Facebooks in a brief moment of embarrassment. The predicament actually a lot like Rebecca Black’s “Friday”; we laugh at how rudimentary her lyrics are (and her ridiculous music video- I know the question on everyone’s mind is, since when can 13 year olds drive? and weren’t her parents worried when she hopped into that convertible, sans seatbelt, instead of taking the bus as usual?), but we can’t stop playing it at parties. So what is it with America, that we seem to adore these apparent pop culture failures? I decided that it was time to investigate.

"Gagaville" as featured in Farmville to promote Lady Gaga's new CD, "Born This Way"

When logging into Farmville for the first time in a very long time, I was immediately reminded of how big the project truly is. No longer is the game just a place to click around and harvest a fake farm, but a major corporation and even billboard for advertisement. The game provides users the option to buy “farm cash” with real money to use to gain access in-game to special limited-edition items. The game has also introduced many new game features that promote social interaction, like co-ops and the option to send free gifts to friends. The game has also taken on a more real-life appeal by acknowledging holidays and important events.Just today, the game is allowing users to plant mother’s day-themed crops (pink carnations) and Lady Gaga-themed crops (chrome cherry trees, gem trees, electric roses, and crystals, to name a few). In fact, Farmville is hosting a huge promotion for Gaga’s new CD, “Born This Way”. Granted, the CD was leaked onto the internet in a mixed-emotion turn of events for Little Monsters everywhere (some were excited to hear the new songs early, while some wanted to respect Gaga by waiting until Monday, its intended release date), but that doesn’t make Farmville’s promotion any less monumental for both artist and game. Here we have one of the world’s most famous artists (who apparently has just exceeded Oprah in her earnings, quite a monumental feat), calling upon Farmville, a Facebook farming game, to pitch her new CD. The two things couldn’t be less alike, and yet, one very obvious, important thing in common; gloss.

Lady Gaga wearing a nude lingerie ensemble for shock-factor in her music video "Alejandro"

Granted, Lady Gaga is one of the most talented singers I have heard to date, and I have no doubt she could have become famous on this alone. Yet, what makes her famous is how she’s portrayed. In just a couple of years, we have seen Gaga go from an almost-mainstream star in her “Poker Face” video, doing a few dance moves by the pool while scantily clad in a blue bathing suit, to pushing boundaries in “Alejandro”, where she simulates bondage sex while wearing a sheer, skin-toned bra-and-panty set to make herself appear naked. All of her fans will attest to the fact that “Alejandro” barely scrapes the surface on what she’s done, but it helps to illustrate the point: Gaga is glamorous, and no matter how grotesque and shocking her acts are, we can’t look away. Similarly, no matter how boring and well, lame, Farmville might appear to be, we can’t stop playing it because of all the features that keep us coming back. Not only do we want to preview Gaga’s new album a few days early, but also harvest rare crops, build a nursery to breed different colored sheep to see what colored ewe they will yield, interact with our friends by giving gifts, and build the attractive farm of our dreams (well, maybe most of us don’t dream of farms, but, you get the picture). These features are what made Zynga over $250 million in both 2009 and 2010. Both Gaga and Farmville are simple ideas (an artist who can sing, a virtual farming game) that have been built into an empire by a crafty group of promoters. And we, as consumers, kind of dig it.

But how does gloss explain Rebecca Black’s fame? Her music video is poorly produced, doesn’t really shock us in any way (unless you count that frightful scene where she gets into the car driven by 13 year olds..), and isn’t promoting some big star. Although I have to admit that her song is catchy, Black’s fame is something even I can’t explain..

-Murderpornreligionslut Mindy

(Have I done it? Have I shocked my viewers into making me famous yet??)

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Posted in: Internet