You probably won’t find this information in any other blog post or review I’ve written for LAPTOP, but before moving to the big city I used to live on a dairy farm. Cows, chickens, barn cats (and rats), tractors, sweet corn, hay bales, wild coyotes—the whole shebang. So, as an ex-farmboy, it was only an eventuality that the duty would befall me to review Facebook’s Farmville. With more than 82.5 million active users and counting, this “real-time farm simulation” game lets you start from scratch to cultivate a menagerie of flora and fauna throughout your virtual rolling estate.
While tens of millions of sheeple out there are lining up in droves to get in on what can only be described as a Facebook phenomenon, this editor entered the Farmville scene with considerable doubts.
After all, I’ve been there in real life. I know what it’s like to spend an entire afternoon baking away in the mid-July sun while stacking wagon after filled-to-the-brim wagon with bales of crispy Timothy (a type of grass, for the uninitiated, and common grub for the common cow). I’ve helped Holstein mothers deliver their calves by myself with nothing but a bucket of warm water, a pair of birthing chains, and a can-do attitude. I’ve been chased through more than one electric fence by unruly bulls, whose ferocity and rippling body mass are only rivaled by their refusal to listen to reason. The bar has been set pretty high for Farmville, is what I’m trying to say here.
So, when my editors assigned me to rate the Farmville experience against the real thing, I couldn’t really argue with them. I am the most qualified, after all. And despite my currently immaculate, milky white palms, I can’t help but remember a time when they contained more calluses than…well, a farmhand.
Setting up Farmville is easy enough. After installing it on my computer and creating my character, I’m basically good to go. My only complaint, really, is the lack of realism in my avatar. I was a lanky fellow back in the day, sure, yet my shoulders were definitely broader than what I see portrayed on the screen before me. My head size, at least, is depicted proportionately.
The game starts me out as a lone overalled man-child amid six plots of land. That’s it. No house, no barn (or shelter of any kind), no animals, no farm equipment, nothing. The game is clearly asking its users to remember older, simpler days, when wealthy estates were founded on literally nothing more than two acres of tillable soil and a handful of beans (soy beans, to be more specific, which are inexplicably ready to harvest within the first five minutes of gameplay). Collecting and selling the sparse crops I have puts a few coins in my pocket, and I find that the game has started me out at Experience Level 2; I have more farming to do before I get kicked up to the next level, apparently.
Though I doubt it’s necessary to explain what will happen to a young agricultural entrepreneur should you plunk him down in the middle of an endless green field with nothing but the clothes on his back a few seeds in his hand, I’m going to do it anyway. Left exposed to the elements, that man-child will die until he is dead.