Posted by cpr365 on May 6, 2010
The idea of massive online games with a relatively simple UI and gameplay that exists as 2D clicks and numbers has really take off on the last few years thanks to the rise of social platforms like facebook, LinkedIn, and MySpace. With companies making ludicrous profits off of seemingly trivial games such as Farmville, MafiaWars, or RestaurantCity, the simple objective is to get people to play their games… a lot. To this end, Farmville is incredibly easy to play, quite addicting, and requires attention multiple times a day. The interesting parallel is that this approach to game design in Farmville follows the classical pastoral view of rural life.
In Farmville, you simply click on the ground you’d like to plow, then click on a seed type to plant, and you’re done. Come back in a few hours (or a few days, depending on what type of seed you used) and harvest it via simply clicking on it. That’s all it takes to grow copious quantities of plants… a few simply mouse clicks. This ridiculously low barrier of entrance to play the game allows pretty much anyone to have a “fun” time playing farmville… even if the end goal is pretty much to just have a lot of crops. On top of the simplicity, there is no real ‘negative’ problems in Farmville. If you dont harvest your plants for a looooong time, then they die, but other than that, everything is presented in bright pastel colors in a pleasantly cartoon art style. The ease and juvenile presentation of the game hide all of the actual difficulties of operating a large scale farm.
Undeniably, Farmville reinforces the pastoral view of the rural life. Little time spent on actually producing harvestable goods coupled with incredibly simple means to gain these results hides any unhappy sideeffects of farm life. This game’s massive popularity and simplistic interaction runs the risk of perhaps over-exposing people to this hyper-pastoral idea of farming at the expense of a more balanced idea of rural life.