Game Development Reference
In-Depth Information
Avoiding FarmVille “addiction”
In a January 2010 episode of his syndicated
talk show, television psychologist Dr. Phil con-
fronted a mother whose love of FarmVille had
probably gone too far. She admitted that the
game was stopping her from returning phone
calls or talking to her family, and generally caus-
ing her to neglect her responsibilities. Using his
trademark “get real” approach, Dr. Phil pleaded
with this woman to end her “ridiculous addic-
tion” and “get out of FarmVille! . . . Reintroduce
yourself to your family. Cook a meal. Go on a
date. Go to a movie. Go jog. Go sit out in the
backyard and watch the grass grow. Do some-
thing. Actually, maybe start a garden for real.”
Certainly there are many worse things to be
addicted to than video games, but getting a
bit too engrossed in the virtual world is a very
real risk for some people. FarmVille players
can be especially susceptible to the effects of
addiction for several reasons. The game's time-
sensitive crops encourage players to check in
frequently to avoid withered crops. A built-in
community of fellow players can draw people
away from their friends and family in the real
world. Weekly updates and limited-edition items
keep players coming back to see what's coming
next. Random gifts and hidden items have a slot-
machine-like effect on some players, keeping
them clicking for that next random reward.
If you ever get to the point where you start think-
ing, “I can't stop watching my crops!” you're
not alone. Many people engage in virtual farm
life not just for an occasional escape but also
as a constant way to avoid real-world problems
and responsibilities. It can happen to anyone:
Dimitar Kerin, a Bulgarian politician, made inter-
national headlines for tending his virtual crops
during budget meetings, even after he was
asked to stop by fellow city council members.
Don't let the risk of addiction threaten to ruin
the fun you can have farming. Instead, follow
these tips for avoiding addiction — not just in
FarmVille, but with any video or computer game.
Limit the time you spend playing. Set a strict
time limit for how much you'll allow yourself
to play each day — a half hour or an hour,
perhaps — and stick to it religiously. Use a
stopwatch or a kitchen timer to help remind
yourself to stop playing when your time is up.
Schedule your gameplay. Set aside a spe-
cific time every day to play the game, and
don't let yourself log in before or after that
time. Use the scheduled play time as some-
thing to look forward to throughout the day
rather than allow the game to kill productive
time.
Make a list of your real-world obligations
for the day. Reward yourself with a quick
visit to FarmVille after you've completed
everything on your list — but not before.
Plant crops that fit your lifestyle. Crops that
sprout every four hours demand constant
attention and frequent logins to harvest.
Planting crops with longer growing times
requires less frequent play time to get them
harvested; it also gives you a longer margin
of error for avoiding withered crops. For
more on farming on your own schedule, see
Chapter 6.
 
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