What is FarmVille’s appeal?

This post is especially for my friend, Hilary, who reminded me that it’s not cool to start a blog and not update it regularly, and for my friend, Blake, who is a young social media guru and loves Facebook. Together we work on social media strategy during our day jobs, but I’m perplexed as to how social media is reaching into gardening, especially with the hit Facebook application FarmVille (and it’s surprising adoption).

According to AppData, FarmVille surpassed 80 million monthly active users this week. (Note: Active users are defined as people playing the game at least once within 30 days.) That’s 20% of the whole Facebook population and more than the entire Twitter population playing this game. This active user base is growing by approximately 10 million people per month!

What is FarmVille’s appeal? You can grow and harvest crops, raise livestock, and sell your items in the online market – but can’t you do all that in real life? I heard from someone at work last week that you can throw sheep at people in FarmVille. I couldn’t see myself doing that in real life. If even a fraction of the people playing FarmVille started planting and harvesting crops in real life, we could have a huge impact on agricultural sustainability. Are people learning more about gardening by playing FarmVille? Do techniques in the game carry over into your garden?

FarmVille Land Plot

Photo source: The New York Times, "To Harvest Squash, Click Here"

FarmVille claims to have “plenty of land for everyone,” and that’s not always the case in real life. Some people don’t have access to gardens (those living in apartments or condos, for example), and some may not have the desire or ability to keep up with a garden. If land is your concern, check into community gardens – an open plot of land gardened by a group of volunteers who then enjoy what they produce. What a great concept for greening urban areas! The American Community Gardening Association (ACGA) is a great resource for finding community gardens in your area.

“The Association recognizes that community gardening improves people’s quality of life by providing a catalyst for neighborhood and community development, stimulating social interaction, encouraging self-reliance, beautifying neighborhoods, producing nutritious food, reducing family food budgets, conserving resources and creating opportunities for recreation, exercise, therapy and education.”

So, why spend time harvesting online when you can make an impact on your family’s food intake? I’d love to hear comments if you play FarmVille. Do you believe more people should play? To anyone who reads this post, I want to make it clear that I do play video/virtual games on occasion and have nothing against them, but I’m particularly interested in the FarmVille phenomenon because it ties so closely to something I love doing in my backyard!


4 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Kathy on February 21, 2010 at 4:49 pm

    At this moment I can’t see the appeal as I am gearing up for my own real life backyard garden.


  2. Posted by hilstreet on February 22, 2010 at 3:48 pm

    Great post!

    I wish I had some sheep for my border collie.


  3. Posted by blandria on March 1, 2010 at 9:26 am

    Two different coworkers forwarded me this article today, “Why FarmVille Matters (more than you may think).” They know my obsession with the topic! The author gives a lot of the credit to the Facebook platform rather than the game itself. http://www.isitedesign.com/insight-blog/10_02/why-farmville-matters


  4. I’m thinking of giving Farmville a chance…


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