I want to tell you about my favorite online game because it isn’t just a game, it’s a social phenomenon.
There are several of these farm games, and millions of people are playing them all over the world. I have 114 Facebook game partners (whom I’ve never met, of course) and we play together. Together means precisely that. We don’t play against each other. The game is completely non-competitive.
In the game, you create a farm, grow crops and fruit trees, buy machines to produce food, toys and bouquets of flowers. You also have a kitchen where you make dishes with the food you produce. There is a pond where you catch seafood.
If you help your game friends, you get prizes, and the better other players do, the more prizes you get. There are challenges where players get prizes but the supply of prizes is unlimited. You don’t have to worry that other people win everything and you will be left with nothing. Prizes include cute little squirrels, penguins and toucans. You can decorate your farm and send gifts to other players. Sending gifts and responding to requests for help is rewarded.
There is no space in this game for anger, competition or resentment. There is also no possibility of losing. If you don’t complete a challenge, a new one appears immediately. A while ago, we all observed Ramadan on the farm and everybody got prizes. Now we are ready to celebrate Halloween.
This is a game for busy people who can’t play for 2 hours straight. There isn’t anything to do in the game for more than 15 minutes at a time. You can stay away for months and then gone back, having lost nothing. There are no leaderboards or score charts.
The players are overwhelmingly in their 30s and 40s. These are people who are busily constructing their careers and come to the game for a brief respite from the world of competitiveness, speed, and stress. These are also people who miss the crops and the natural cycles around which the lives of their ancestors revolved.