Saturday, December 26, 2009

Farmville Thinking

To distract myself over the past few weeks I have started playing the Facebook-associated game 'Farmville". For those unfamiliar with the game essentially it is a sim-type game in which you build a farm - you can grow crops, maintain animals as well as buy fences and buildings and the like.

Some people play to gain as many points as possible as fast as they can, other play to master all of the various components, others like to create farm art and still other enjoy play to build relationships with their neighbors.

I confess to wanting to get set up as soon as I could so I was planting and harvesting crops like a trooper (I was planting and harvesting crops that took 4 hours to grow - while there are other options which extend out to up to 3 days - I was even setting the alarm so I could get up int he middle of the night to harvest to keep things going 24 hours a day). I also gained extra points from fertilizing the crops of my neighbors. I planted my orchard and began to accumulate animals as soon as I could. And in amongst all of that I tried to keep it looking as "real farm" as I could (there are lots of decorations on other themes like Christmas that you can include).

And then I realized that I have another whole layer of considerations that I have been applying without even being aware of it. I have been rotating my crops to ensure the integrity of my soil. I got as many water troughs as I could. I have been as free-range as I can be - ensuring that each animal has as much space as practicable (for example, you can squish 8 sheep onto one square but I only put 1 sheep on each square). I stressed over including rabbits (feral creatures that they are) but justified their inclusion because you can harvest their fur/hair - and they are firmly enclosed in a yard they can't escape from. I worried about putting the bulls in with the calves while the cows were in the dairy - would the little ones be safe. In the end I pulled cows out of the dairy and put them with the calves while I put the bulls in a separate paddock. None of this is necessary. None of this wins me any bonuses within the game. But somewhat sub-consciously I have been farming ethically!!!!!

And this only really came to light over the past few days when is started opening my Farmville Christmas presents and I got too many chickens for the space I had set aside for them. I have also started getting penguins (which would not do well in the Australian summer). And my black sheep are in with the white ones (no I don't have racist issues - my family has a stud farm and black wool is a major sin and the sheep responsible is culled). Co-incidentally I have also decided to gain a cropping mastery or two and I have started broadacre cropping without the rotation ... and all of this has caused me angst!

Yes I know they are pixels, they are not real but maybe I am a bit of a farm girl after all. Now if you excuse me, I need to go and check the sheep :-)

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