So Long 4-H, Howdy FarmVille! Fastest Growing Social Game Ever Has Users Thinking Green


FarmVille is the green place to be for city folk reaping the rewards of rural relationships and cooperation through good, clean social gaming.

The hugely popular farming sim has my friends and family bragging on Facebook about a season of planting cash crops, helping neighbors grow lettuce instead of lawns and finding new homes for lost little duckies. It quacks me up!


The strategy of the Zynga grainchild: The user is given the chance to start their own farm, build it out and move up in levels.

After they have plowed the land and their crops are ripe for picking, they harvest the food and sell it for cash to buy new crops. Other ways to get money include helping friends with their farms or sending free gifts to friends, such as trees and farm animals.

“This is a good game because it’s not superficial where you are going out and buying clothes or houses like in other virtual games,” says my 13-year-old daughter, an avid fan who set up a farm for her 10-year-old sister in recent weeks planting eggplants, soybeans and strawberries. “You’re building crops and helping neighbors with their crops and in the coming years, it will really come down to that.”

My teen, now at level 7,  finds FarmVille lets her and her Facebook friends associate a fun game with something not product-based, and that it helps train her generation to think green.

That’s the main reason an employer in Minneapolis, Minn. set up a real organic farm as a playground and work perk for his employees. His concept is a hit as the Haberman public relations team clocks time hoeing and raking after hours.

You don’t get points with your boss for playing FarmVille so my cousin, Alan Finkelstein, plays in his spare time when he’s off work. He’s at the top of the heap with an impressive level 31. He’s a god in his neck of the woods. You don’t get to level 31 without logging some serious computer time.

“Okay, FarmVille police, I was forced to play, they kidnapped me and made me play,” Alan jests, defending his highly-coveted acreage. “I do notice more things in the world that are related to farms than I used to prior to playing.”

Alan says he gave it a go when a friend was playing and really loved it. He finds the game makes him more aware of things associated with farming and holds a “zen quality” for the L.A. journalist, husband and Facebook fanatic.

“I like to strategize, collect, plan, design, steal other folk’s designs, send gifts to friends, receive gifts from friends, and having to be patient in growing my own farm,” he says. “My cousins say to me, ‘Dude, your farm is amazing and thanks for sending me the horses’ and it’s nice to have that interaction.”

Del Monte should only have such interaction. This sim is clearly a brand of socialism Americans can get behind.

According to Virtual Worlds News, FarmVille has gained over 1 million new players per week since its June 19 launch, and currently boasts more than 11 million daily active users.

Apparently, that’s the total achieved by lead designer Mark Skaggs over his entire career with Electronic Arts where he designed other strategy games such as Command & Conquer and The Lord of the Rings: Battle for Middle Earth. He says FarmVille will probably break records, largely because he’s keeping it fresh.

“One of the really fun and successful features we added is what we call the ‘Lonely Cow’ feature,” Skaggs told VWN. “You can help find it a home, then somebody claims it. You’ll get a brown cow instead of the white cow you had before. Then you milk the brown cow and you get chocolate milk! That’s a ‘moment of delight,’ totally unexpected but cool.”


We once felt that same moment of delight when competitors landed on those high-priced blue properties we monopolized – Park Place and Boardwalk – and had to fork over big bucks for encountering our big, red hotels.

I much prefer a society that works together to land big red barns, sustainable crops and organic chocolate milk. As my wise daughter said, it will really come down to that.

Main Image: Sabrina.dent

Luanne Bradley

Luanne Sanders Bradley is the West coast Editor at EcoSalon and currently resides in San Francisco, California.