Top of the Farm List

4 June 2009

One of the simple pleasures in my life is being able to have intelligent conversations with the people I love.  Even when we don’t always see eye to eye, the process of a friendly debate is so stimulating for me.  I almost always come away feeling smarter, or I go straight from the conversation to the internet and read up on what I didn’t know, and still come away feeling smarter!  I had a couple of those wonderful conversations yesterday—one with my mom, and one with Ronnie.  As a follow-up to the latter, Ronnie sent me this article from Slate magazine.  It is a brilliant and concise look at the economic mess our country is currently in.  It even throws a couple of suggestions on methods for digging out of the mess.  Unfortunately, the author of the article will likely never hold public office again. <sigh> Darn puritanical laws . . .

Another small pleasure for me these days, is the social networking site known as Facebook.  Now, I know I spend more time on there than I have a right to . . . but it’s good in so many ways!  I wasn’t on it for many days when I started connecting with dear, dear friends that I’d lost touch with many years ago . . . people from my childhood, my high school, my TCU years . . . it was wonderful!  In fact, in October, I’ll be journeying to Ohio to spend a weekend with six of my dearest girlfriends from the college dorm!  All because of Facebook. I was able to hire a kick-butt staff for the booth at Scarborough—because of Facebook.  And when Estelle died last week, I found out about it within about three hours—because of Facebook.

And, not only is it a rocking social network, but it’s also a relatively safe play-place.  There are countless games and “applications” that can entertain, educate, and otherwise enable one’s need to procrastinate!  😉
We all know the proven health benefits of playing wordgames and puzzles, so that’s healthy, almost necessary playtime.  But, I have come to realize something about my own idea of fun.  I do not think it’s fun to kill things. I don’t like violence.  I don’t like war games, mob games, army games . . . even fantasy games where one race tries to kill another.  Don’t like it.  Won’t do it.  Many people that I call dear consider certain games of these types to be relaxing, cathartic, and enjoyable.  Not me.  My flavour of game is what is labeled an “acquisition game.”  Now, before anyone out there laughs and draws the parallel to my love of shopping (yes, I see it, too!), it’s also much more than that.  There’s learning, too!  In each of these little games I’ve come to love, there is planning, and budgeting, and saving for the future, and bargain-hunting. There is art and design. In my favourite, a game called Yoville, you have a little cartoon-like avatar, and you earn money by “working” and various other things, and you can spend that money decorating first your apartment, and subsequently any houses you save up the money to buy!  There are even economic lessions to be learned.  In Farm Town, one I’m still learning, you plant and harvest crops and trees, and learn that you can make more money on each crop by hiring workers to harvest them for you, rather than doing all the work alone! And sometimes there is even a global benefit—in Zoo Builder, for example, players are actually driving ad hits which generate money being donated to Wildlife-related charity!

My photo today is of the “friends” screen within the game called MyFarm.  It’s one of my real favourites, and I’ve been playing it longer than any other game.  Tonight—finally—I met my own personal game dream . . . to be the top player of anyone I know!  I honestly didn’t think of this game as competitive in any way at the beginning.  And, now that I’ve accomplished this, I won’t think of it that way in the future, either.  But, for so many months, I have always looked at this screen and been somewhere down on the page.  The gap between these top five or six players and most of the pack is very wide, and I thought I’d never reach the top.  But, here I am!  So, before I go buy another barn and fall back down the page, I thought I’d enjoy it by sharing my success!  And if anybody reading this also plays MyFarm—send me trees for my orange grove!  😉

Hey, maybe if more top executives played games like these, some of these economic lessons (like, for example—one has to MAKE money before one can SPEND money) would help the folks at places like GM and our Federal government!  See, Facebook isn’t bad!    It might just play a role in healing the global economy!

~MB