I used to be amazed at the amount of people playing crazy games on the internet.
When I joined Facebook it seemed to be full of posts about people moving up in Mafia Wars, or Vampire Wars.
Do these people have nothing better to do, I pondered somewhat bemusedly.
I never grew up in the computer games era, or even the computer era, so found all this totally bizarre.
Aimlessly I clicked on one of my FB friend’s requests for ‘neighbours’ in some game.
FarmVille. Oooh, I could build my own little farm, didn’t need to get my hands dirty, and could grow the prettiest crops.
No problems with pests, or lack of water, or a bad crop. I could have my animals too, and a dear little cottage.
I was hooked. I also wanted to gain the points. But why?
I even looked at Mafia Wars and Pirates. Café World was a no-no. The first three dishes were onion soup, bacon sandwich and a burger. Once I had made the onion soup I lost interest. I do not want to be told what to cook.
I started a Happy Aquarium, even though I don’t really agree with keeping fish in tanks… They were very pretty. And there is Fish World, and naturally – FishVille. Oh and Island Paradise. And Robin Hood. And Roller Coaster Something. There may be others too where I still have a dormant presence. (Note, I am still on my idyllic island…)
The truth is, that if other people need ‘friends’ to move up in the games, that’s fine by me, but I don’t have to play. Happy to be a sleeping non-participant.
So what on earth is the attraction with the continual clicking of a mouse/trackpad to see points pointing up?
Mindless? Well, in my opinion yes (and don’t forget I am doing it). Escapism – without a doubt. Living a fantasy life as Robin Hood, or a Pirate, or a Mega Mafia Mobster.
But the one that really seems to be on a winner, is Farmville. And Farmtown. I should say at this point I don’t like the graphics on FT and I hate the unnecessary clicks to sell produce. Hence I have relapsed to an orchard where the fruit never goes off.
It’s the fantasy idea that we all dream of though. That little place in the country that is so easy to maintain, live off the land, and have a modest, but perfectly comfortable house. And for those of us who tend to be somewhat anal, we can lay out our farms perfectly, colour co-ordinate them. We can play the games to get more money, more points, more awards, more mastery signs – whatever we choose. At no risk. Nothing further from real life.
I never watched soap operas until I hit on some bizarre production called Sunset Beach. It was too unreal to be true and a total load of rubbish – but the unreality of it was what made it entertaining. I watched soaps in Spain too – mainly because it was an easy way of learning the language.
But for the most part, what are soaps? Mindless unreal escapism. Just like some of the adventure films/serials where the hero struggles against all manner of perils and always, just always, wins out.
Computer games? No different. Mindless, unreal, escapism. A different screen, a different distraction.
Heaven forbid we all go back to speaking to each other again – or even worse, reading books, and thinking.
(For the record, Level 32 on FarmVille with 65,000+ points, and the fuck off biggest farm at 22×22).