The Student News Site of University of Arizona

The Daily Wildcat

84° Tucson, AZ

The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Don’t partake in the funny farm

I did not get FarmVille.

I did not understand why my friends were uploading photo albums of cartoons, none of which I could differentiate from the others, and I felt mildly abandoned when someone would mutter something about harvest time and make an exit whilst spending time with me.

They always came back so I quickly precluded that they weren’t just trying to avoid me. But I still did not understand the appeal of the game. I did not understand how the lives of my ordinarily well-adjusted friends were now dictated by the milking schedule of fake cows.

But then I found Sorority Life.

I cannot remember how I came to be involved with this particular Facebook application, one that is perhaps lesser known (its 6.5 million users paling in comparison to the 51.5 million boasted by FarmVille, as of October 1, according to Gamasutra) but certainly just as time- and life-consuming as FarmVille. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t because of some repressed desire to be in a sorority so I had to assume there was some other explanation as to why I was now seeing more of a character I named Afra than my housemate.

I lost all sense of reason. I started frequenting cafes in the hopes that the peer pressure exerted by making my laptop screen publicly visible would compel me to validate myself in this environment by doing some homework. The pull of Sorority Life was stronger than that of gravity. I invested more in Afra’s wellbeing than I ever have in that of a boyfriend. I wasn’t even sure I was still technically fulfilling my visa requirement of maintaining a full-time workload at school, given how much time I was devoting to a Facebook application that I knew, intellectually, was a waste of time. More importantly, it wasn’t just me.

As Sofia Karlsson, a Swedish exchange student, states, “”I hate FarmVille! I see so many people sitting at their computers just playing it and not paying attention to the class.”” Though it is possible that these FarmVille fiends are also absurdly good at multitasking, it seems more likely that Karlsson is right in thinking that students are, in essence, sacrificing their academic potential for a game that does not appear to benefit our minds in any way.

But the fundamental difference between progressing in FarmVille and progressing in our education — and the whole reason that our newsfeeds are now being inundated with announcements that our friends have found lonely sheep on their farms — is that achieving something in FarmVille is a hell of a lot easier than achieving anything in our lives.

I eventually realized that over the course of my endeavors in Sorority Life, my eyes were constantly drawn to the status bar at the top of the screen. Just as in FarmVille, I had a concrete representation of how much more I needed to do in order to get to the next level, which would open up to me a whole host of opportunities that would serve zero function in real life. I had a goal (level 37) and I knew both how to achieve it (socialize and fight other characters) and what I would get out of it (accolades from my “”house mom””).

The veritable phenomenon that FarmVille has become is indicative of our desire for instant gratification, and the fact that it is far easier to reach our goals when we know exactly how to go about it. Both of these factors are, incidentally, rather uncommon in our day-to-day lives. For something to acquire such a prominent position in our lives without really being fun, it has to offer us something that nothing else does.

Affording an opportunity for college students to procrastinate hours away while being duly, quickly and frequently “”rewarded”” for their time was perhaps an unlikely outcome of such a banal game. Although these hours could be better spent writing papers and getting ahead on weekly readings, even a good grade on a paper provides momentary satisfaction before we have to think about the multitude of other things we still need to do. FarmVille provides a similarly fleeting, but also shallow gratification, and with minimal effort. It’s unsurprising, then, that so many of us are investing our time into it.

Fortunately for me, the consequence of incessantly playing Sorority Life has been this article and as such, it could be considered a good career move. But for everyone else, it might be time to rethink how important an animated farm really is to you and what it’s stopping you from doing.

No employer is going to be impressed by how many ugly FarmVille ducklings you transformed into beautiful FarmVille swans. You don’t want to look back and realize this was the center point of your college experience; your descendants will not be able to make a good eulogy out of it.

— Dunja Nedic is an Australian exchange student. She can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

More to Discover
Activate Search