Monday, January 26, 2009

Taking over the world, one tomato plant at a time

Readers, I may have discovered the most potent evil force since the Internet was invented by Al Gore: facebook.

Since I found myself with a facebook page (I have not figured quite how that happened- I have no memory of signing up)(I'm not joking here- I really don't know how I ended up there in the beginning), I have reconnected with high school classmates far and wide (they're far, I'm wide), kept in touch with nieces and sisters and cousins (her sisters and her cousins whom she recons by the dozens, her sisters and her cousins and her aunts) and parental units. I keep in touch with editors and agents and writer friends. I even message with people I see in my general daily life. In short, facebook has been a good way to connect with people.

So, where's the evil? There wouldn't be evil if I just chatted and posted pictures and made comments on what everyone else is doing. No, I had to discover the games. There are the charitable donation clicker games- where you send goofy little *gifts* to friends to add to their Safaris, or Gardens, or Ocean Front Properties, and by doing so, prompt advertisers to donate actual money to some very good causes (Nothing but Nets, Save the Rainforest, etc). Those games are not actually games, they're just collections, but they're mildly fun, and they're pretty to look at, and you really are doing something good as you waste time (so I tell myself as I send a Bush Baby to 10 of my closest friends). And then there are the Save the Planet games (Save the Planet is a separate app), which gives you a stake of a couple hundred K to start, and you earn more moolah by playing some of the most addictive games I've found: a very cool version of MahJongg (an early version of which was my first computer obsession, even before I found the internet), word games (I'm never fast enough to find all of the word search items before the timer runs out), card games (current fascination: Tri Peaks Solitaire and 52 Pickup), and the arcade/strategy games (Alu's Revenge, a deceptively simple game where you click on matching items to make them disappear before time runs out, that will drive you absolutely batty). You take the "money" you earn, and allocate it to other really good causes (books for poor kids, clean air, cancer research), which prompts real money to be diverted to these activities.

Those are all time users (okay- wasters), but still not truly evil. The real evil is a little app called myFarm.

myFarm is a beta game, being developed by a college kid- you start out with $1,000 and 4 little tomato patches, and you work your farm from there. Paying to plow and plant more crops, harvesting the crops you've grown, and if you're lucky, getting gifts of trees and animals from other myFarmers in your Friends. Sounds harmless, right?

Wrong. For some reason I cannot fathom, I am endlessly fascinated with these little crops as they grow- I've planted strawberries (my main cash crop), tomatoes, rice, potatoes, corn, and wheat (it's a multi-climate farm…). I diligently harvest (every day for the strawberries and tomatoes, every 2 days for the rice and wheat, every 3 days for the potatoes and corn), and for a long time, I plugged every cent earned back into more crops. But once my 900 plots were full and my farm prettily laid out (working it out is sort of like making a cross stitch graph, or a Fair Isle design), I started to save money for the rustic shack (for the farmhands, of course), barns, chicken coops, and a woodshed. Friends sent me trees (peach, pear, apple, orange, coconut, mango, cherry, plum, banana- again, multi-climate), which mature in 6 days, and then bear fruit every 3 days which is harvested and sold. Friends also sent me animals (horses, cows, goats, and the most adorable little clucking chickens).

I took that original $1,000 and 4 plots of tomatoes, and have turned it into $1,188,000 business with 558 crops, 800 trees, and 137 animals. The game is free, but I spent actual money to buy a white farmhouse for myFarm (the kid is developing the game, and needed donations for new servers, I was going to send a couple of bucks anyway, but I got a cool farm house out of the deal). I even talked my husband into setting up a farm on his facebook page which he never visits, that I use to send myself trees and animals as I need them (is that the most pathetic thing you've ever heard of?)

So, where's the evil, you ask? How much time do you think it takes to harvest , plow and replant 558 crops (about half of them every day), or harvest 800 trees, or just gaze at the pretty? Plenty. And not only do I spend time with this, I've infected my sister, niece, step-mother and assorted friends with the same disease.

Do I have a lot of extra time? Nope. Am I going to stop farming? Nope. Am I going to stop farming eventually? Eventually. Will that be soon? Nope. Are my friends and family happy to be farming: of course they are. It's addictive. Are they spreading the contagion to their friends and other family members? You damn betcha.

See: evil. Pure evil.
If you're on facebook,search out myFarm and jump in. The water's fine.


Trish said...

Heh heh....I feel your pain. My son got Animal Crossing City Folk (Wii) for Christmas. It has similar concepts (pick fruit, plant more trees with it or sell it, go fishing, sell the fish or donate them to the museum, dig up fossils, buy furniture, get a bigger house by paying off building loans, plant flowers, chat with the villagers, go to the city, etc.) Don't ask me why, but I got sucked into this game and find myself spending WAY too much time shaking peaches out of trees and picking them up and then taking them to the store to sell them, among other things. I guess I could have fallen victim to something far more evil, and so consider this an innocent waste of time, especially since it's so much fun! There is an Animal Crossing group on Ravelry, so I guess I'm not the only knitter who's playing instead of knitting! (or designing, or doing laundry, or cleaning the house LOL)

Anonymous said...

I am not on Face Book. But you farm looks nice!!

Stacy said...

FB can be evil, can't it. It's my favorite time sucker.

Fríða said...

hm, exactly why I haven´t given in to signing up. I think I spend more than enough time online already, I need my knitting time!
best wishes from Iceland

dawn draper said...

No zucchini on your farm? Then you're still safe. The only truly evil vegetable is zucchini.

gayle said...

My husband fell prey to Facebook as well... His farm is flourishing, while I wait patiently for my turn on the computer.
Evil, indeed!