meandering creativity, symbols and emotion

Friday, February 12, 2010

Why Farmville is Great for Hardcore Gamers

Over the past couple of years there has been some concern among gamers that the rise of casual games would be at the expense of hardcore games (i.e. the typical shooting, jumping and racing games). It hasn't really happened; we've learned that there is more than enough room for all these games to coexist.

That said, the explosion of Farmville, Mafia Wars and other Facebook games is getting a bit of attention this week. Having 235 million users will do that.

I get the sense that gamers are annoyed by these social games but the games are actually helpful because they dispel the notion that gaming is just an activity for dudes!

A recent article by an NBC affiliate in Ohio helps make my point. The article focuses on two married women:
Both are working mothers, and both say they play for fun -- sometimes for hours at a time -- but find all of it relaxing without becoming addictive.
It's hardly conclusive but it is great news for gamers. Many folks still believe that video games are a pastime for young men and boys. The women in the article even indicate as much:
"Actually, I'm one that I hate video games," Tricia said. "I think it's a waste of time, but there's just something about (Facebook games) that you just have to complete it just to get it done."
This tends to be the sentiment among most couples: he likes playing them and she thinks they're childish. Admittedly some games are juvenile with simple themes lacking subtlety and nuance. One could probably say the same thing about the latest chick flick.

The real divisive issue with video games is not age or gender but time. Being an adult is less about which leisure activity you prefer and more about how you manage your commitments.

If a couple can get beyond their notions about who and what video games are for they can have a real discussion about how they want to spend their time.

We all have the capacity to be addicted to any number of things whether they are video games like Farmville, Mafia Wars or Halo 3 or TV shows like The Bachelor, American Idol or CSI. Or maybe watching your favorite sports team. Actually I know plenty of women and men who plan their weekends around Dallas Cowboys Football.

One thing the article does not mention is how annoying Farmville status updates are to other Facebook users. I'm sure that article will make a great follow up.


  1. About 2 1/2 to 3 years ago Allison and I started playing Warbook on Facebook and it nearly consumed our lives for about 4 months. We were both completely into it and addicted and couldn't do anything without wondering what was happening in the game while we were unable to control it. We eventually both had to bail out before we lost our minds completely, but it was really fun while it lasted and we made some friends in other countries we're still in contact with today. I don't really have a point to make. Just telling a relevant but pointless story. I still play games on my original NES, so I'm hardly a hard core gamer. If you ever want to play some original dragon warrior or zelda though, come on over.

  2. yeah - I'm a fan of Farmville. It's a fun resource management game with micro-transactions as a revenue model!

    The only thing to not love is the buggy flash and Facebook status updates. And maybe some of the shady Zynga business practices I've heard about...

  3. I think another element that's worth taking into account is the style of games. Most console and PC games are purely about combat, and part of their appeal is that it's like living out the plot of an action movie. Most women aren't into action movies, and wouldn't seek those kinds of games out. Things like Farmville or Mafia Wars, or on game sites like Pogo, or even World of Warcraft, appeal to both men and women because they go beyond shoot-em-up combat to incorporate other elements of gameplay.

    - Tom the Fly