My Family Farm

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.

13 thoughts on “My Family Farm

  1. There was something so lovely about this post. It was really fun to read. Thanks for posting.

    I do love “de-stressing games” but I can’t play social media games for some reason. I am not a socially anxious person generally and I’m not really shy. But for some reason, the thought of connecting with unseen strangers online to play a game makes me uncomfortable. It’s why I never was able to go through with online dating. I. But once I know someone, then I love online socializing. I am not sure why exactly!


    1. I also had a great resistance to the idea of such games. Mostly, I felt embarrassed to be an adult among kids. But then I saw that the players were all my age or older, and that was reassuring. 🙂


  2. The idea of a non-competitive game is quite interesting. Many people (included myself) don’t like games because they face enough stress of competition in their “real” lives. I’ve been wondering for a while how it is possible to create a non-competitive social environment. It seems that people tend to make a competition out of everything. Not everybody is like that, but the world is full of people like that. Those who don’t want to compete in everything, just have to suck it up. Maybe a game, where the rules are predefined, can keep away frustrated people who have a need to beat down the “enemy”, and attracts those who want to relax and have fun without stress. Collaboration instead of competition. Sounds good. “My family farm” is the name of the game? Is it a Facebook game?


  3. \\ Cute little squirrels, eh? You must post a screenshot…


    The game sounds nice.

    I remember you once talked about playing with a 12-year-old. For all you know, she could’ve been 42.


  4. If you’re interested in social games, you might also be interested in Fallen London (at ). It’s about a person at the lowest rungs of society working upwards through cleverness, grit, and moxy, all the while pursuing a great Ambition (mine, for example, is to win my heart’s desire in a game of cards with the devil).

    It’s slow-burning, no-rush kind of thing. You can log in with Facebook, if you like, and the makers of the game made sure that it doesn’t spam your page with messages.

    It’s a darling, this game. 🙂


      1. I utterly loved that game and played it for ~2 years, starting…pretty much when the game started, really. It has great writing, think 1820-1920 horror stories with the queer/non-white subtext brought to the surface. Unfortunately, you can spend real money to get better results in rare but critical points (such as solving an impossible dillema in an impossibly improbable manner) and I pretty much stopped playing when I hit one of those dilemmas at a point where I couldnt’ afford the (very tiny) sum the game wanted for the “best” result.


  5. You realise that in the UK, there’s a “non-competitive farm game” that consists of growing things along electric distribution network and railway rights-of-way, right?

    I don’t think I’ve seen 114 fellow “game players” at the nearest garden patch, but I have seen at least 50 … 🙂


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