You don’t have to tell this analog guy farming is tough. I read Grape of Wrath; I watched Green Acres (how anyone could run a successful farm with Hank Kimball is beyond me). That’s why it’s fascinating to learn that Zynga’s virtual FarmVille game on Facebook currently has more than 72 million players tilling the online soil.
I mean, in a digital world where you can play games that pit you against the Mob, space aliens and even terrorists, how could much fun could harvesting make-believe strawberries be?
The answer is plenty, if the latest numbers are correct. According to various sources, FarmVille has become the most popular game application on Facebook. Players purchase land, seeds and equipment, maintain the farm and are responsible for getting crops harvested before they start to wither and die. In some ways, “playing” farmer is just as real as a flesh-and-blood farmer. There are pests to deal with, neighbors to help and crops to harvest. Each fruit and vegetable only stays fresh for a set amount of time before it starts to go bad, so participation requires vigilance and good timing.
The game is two-dimensional, but an awareness campaign launched very recently by the Animal Agriculture Alliance is helping to make farming very real. The group has released a video that depicts what it’s really like helping to feed the masses.
“In Farmville, pink cows produce strawberry milk and soybeans take only two days to grow. ‘The Real Farmville’ helps viewers understand the important role that farmers and ranchers play in providing a safe, affordable, and plentiful food supply,” stated the organization.
The video, which already has been viewed 2,000 times, was released late last month at the start of a nationwide grassroots campaign by agriculture advocates urging consumers to "Thank a Farmer" for providing their holiday meal.
“The Internet has made it possible for the fewer than 2% of the population that produces food to easily communicate with a large audience of consumers,” the Alliance went on to say. “Now, more than ever, it is critical that farmers and ranchers speak out in order to protect their way of life.”
FarmVille is a game, and it’s almost quaint that we have a passion for virtual farming. But the agriculture community’s message is all business. As more farms succumb to mass production, the reality behind the game isn’t fun at all.
(Logo credit: Zynga/Facebook)