Tuesday, August 24, 2010

In Defense of My Time (and Occasional Money) Spent in the Villes of Yo, Farm, and Frontier

I just responded to an NPR post on Facebook asking if people had ever spent real-world money on virtual games such as Farmville. I responded that I had purchased an occasional game card to furnish a house or finish a building and that I would probably buy a few cards as stocking stuffers for relatives who play. I then read comments that ranged from people who had no problem shelling out cash to people like me to others who think these games are a waste of time and money.

I spend money on many forms of entertainment, as do most people, I think--movies, cable TV, spending time with friends in coffee shops, pubs, restaurants, and as I pointed out, occasional gambling on special occasions (spring break trips to Las Vegas, anniversary trips, etc.) I also spend as much time as possible trying to enjoy myself (I don't think that is a bad thing), and I find these games pleasurable. Many commenters said that most of us spend money on various forms of entertainment.

Then there were the "purist" gamers saying these are not really games because all one does is click, click, click, I have heard previous comments such as this that these are Pavlovian, rat in a maze, exploitive games.

Well, here is my joy in playing: I like shopping and acquiring things, but this becomes a problem of money and space in the real world. Playing these games gives me the pleasure of acquisition without a pile of real stuff to have to deal with. I also feel joy similar to that when I was a child and would spend many happy hours playing house, school, and Barbies. For my friend Debbie and me, the fun of Barbies was in creating houses from toys we had as well as empty tissue boxes and other found materials. We would also create stories for our dolls. These having been different times, we would explain our lack of male dolls by saying our dolls' husbands were in VietNam (as her brothers had been.) We would stuff Little Kiddle dolls under their dresses and say they were pregnant. (Again, these being different times, we did not understand that this was problematic with the absent "husbands.")

I like playing with the Yo girl as she furnishes her rooms, the little farmer as she plants various crops and furnishes and decorates the farm, and my Frontier lady who is so much stronger than I as she chops down trees and tames the wilderness (and I actually begin to see the joy some family members of mine have from real-world "settling" of their lake property, though I would not enjoy this (having been an "indoor kid who reads"--thanks, Daniel Tosh. :-))

There were also people who say those of us who play should get out and meet people in the "real world." I have actually been able to have conversations with strangers in the real world based on playing these games...and I have actually established further relationships with people (mom of son's ex-girlfriend who has become a friend...we have even been on vacation together despite living in different states...granted, most were turn-taking word games as opposed to "Ville" games, but still...).

Then finally there was at least one commenter who said she is not judgmental about the games, but wants to know how to get them off her wall. It is not difficult at all to hide and block these games without blocking the friend.

Therefore, I shall continue to play these games until I am bored with them, and I will even probably occasionally spend small amounts of real-world cash.