Friday, May 21, 2010

Do you Farm with FarmVille?

Back in December, I was intrigued by an update on my 14-year-old son's Facebook update that his poinsettias were ready to harvest. Now, I knew good and well that he was not growing poinsettias in his bedroom and I also knew that the last place he wanted to be was at the greenhouse growing plants where he might have to work, but where were these poinsettias that needed to be harvested? "They are on my farm!" explains Thomas, "geeze Dad, sometimes you really don't get it." I guess not.

Many of my Facebook friends do play FarmVille and they play a lot, based on their updates. It does seem to be one of the most popular applications that is on Facebook and the developer Zynga currently provides 13 other social games, plus a handful for the iPhone platform. Zynga's mission is to connect people through games and they seem to do it well. One of the great things that I did not know before my research into FarmVille was that Zynga players, through have raised more than $3 million for international non-profit needs, including the earthquake victims in Haiti.

So just what is FarmVille, FarmVille is an online game hosted on Facebook where you can "farm" with your friends. You spend a good amount of time tending your virtual farm, your crops, and your livestock. You also spend a good deal of time helping your neighbors, which is where the social networking comes into the scene. So being the inquisitive sort, I set up a quick Doodle poll and surveyed some of my own Twitter and Facebook followers to see if their activities with FarmVille had any relevance to gardening and agriculture.

I received 31 responses to my poll, which was not great, but a good snapshot of interest. Most of those answering the poll were older than 50. Well that shows you where my friends are. Only 3% were under 25 and actually the only one to respond from that age group was my son. He thought the poll was stupid, which I guess is a typical response from your own teenage son.

My primary interest was to learn if FarmVille has any relevance to agriculture and to gardening. Of the respondents, 71% do play Farmville and 68% do garden. Does FarmVille encourage gardening? That does not seem to be the case. Does FarmVille teach agriculture? That does not have much relevance either. Of course, the respondents were my friends, many already understand agriculture, and are probably plant nerds like me anyway.

So the main reason that the respondents from this poll use Facebook is to keep up with family and communicate with colleagues. They seem to play Farmville for relaxation and the social interaction.