Saturday, February 6, 2010

Farming Games

What is it about these programs on social network sites that require you to put on your digital dungarees and muck around on a farm that in real life you would probably go no where near?
The two biggest offenders are "Farmville" and "Farm Town" - both require tilling the land you have, planting seeds, going to your "neighbor's farms" and doing something that helps out another farm. After several hours (or days) you reap your plants and get money and experience to spend on more stuff for your farm. In order to unlock certain new items, you either have to spend real money for fake in-game money or pester the hell out of your friends to join the game and become your neighbor. Now, this repetitive action is nothing new. In fact, it's not even exclusive to farm simulations. The "official" term for this is grinding.
According to Dictionary.Com; the term "Grinding" means to work or study laboriously; while the Urban Dictionary defines grinding as A repetitive task usually involved in a Massively Multiplayer Online Role playing game (MMORPG) where a character's skill's are based entirely on killing monsters to gain strengths or levels. In most MMORPGs, there is no skill from the player involved, so anyone who plays 20 hours a day of grinding will be stronger than a player who does not. MMORPGs become a game genre filled with those who are too slow to play First-Person Shooters (FPS) or too dumb to play Real Time Strategy (RTS)
Many people have the patience and fortitude to constantly churn out these repetitive actions over and over again, reveling in the fact that they have unlocked the latest addition, or they've reached some new level that is just ungodly impossible to reach under normal means. This type of dedication is commendable, and if used in the proper context, much could be accomplished.
If you think about it, this type of dedication is not new either - this type of single-minded dedication can be traced back to the mid-1980's when an entirely new type of electronic entertainment debuted in America. Of course, I'm talking about the original Nintendo Entertainment System. The original opiate of prepubescent boys everywhere, the NES taught entire generations that a single minded dedication, combined with a total lack of actual real life interaction can get you to levels of a game that has no real life application to speak of, baring the fact that the player has managed to waste time that could have been better put to learning a new language, or finishing projects, or even doing naughty stuff.
Obviously, with all of this intense focus on attaining ever higher levels, the aforementioned naughty stuff is really non existent. Partially due to the fact that 1) naughty stuff requires real life interactions, and 2) personal hygiene has a bad habit of disappearing due to the inconvenience of having to step away from the computer long enough to dispose of gamer funk - that odd, strangely repellent odor of old caffeine, body odor, stale junk food, and despair.
Now other people have no interest in these types of games - They're either too busy working on stuff they don't want to, or they figure they're too cool to geek out about these games. Instead of posting updates on their levels on these games, they will often post multitudes of pictures of their dogs, kids, wall stains, or religious figures appearing on various foodstuffs on their page. This is secretly due to the fact that these people feel like they have to keep up with the proverbial Jones' updates.
I suppose the long and short of the entire thing is that regardless if you play or not, the true issue lays in the fact that Facebook is the problem. Apparently, the simple fact of posting your status updates is much more important that real life face to face interactions.

Oh, and before anyone starts getting pissy about those two groups, I've been in both. In fact, I spent close to 20 years in the first group...
so, I speak from first hand experience.

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