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"Casual" gaming on facebook?

Submitted by AyaJJ on April 23, 2010 - 12:38pm. Casual Corner

When I joined Facebook, I didn’t think of it as a portal to endless apps and games. I didn’t even join Facebook to catch up with my friends from high school. I joined Facebook to look at a few pictures my family posted.

So how did I get sucked into the gaming parts?

It started pretty simply. Friends that found me on Facebook would invite me to play Bejeweled, but then invited me to be a neighbor in Farmville (virtual farming). Then Café World (virtual diner)… then Mafia Wars (virtual GTA)… And pretty soon I had eight or nine game apps bookmarked for ‘casual’ gaming. And it started off casual. I’d log in to catch up with my peeps, then check the farm, plant a crop or two, then off to the diner to cook up burgers… go rob a virtual bank and hope to find a switchblade as the loot drop … you get the drill. Then, as in just about any game, I leveled up.

And then it started.

I was checking my crops twice a day, then three times, then more. I’d send shout outs to my mafia every other hour because someone beat me up and took my money. I’d need to make sure there were no spoiled dishes on my stoves. I’d need to make sure my fish weren’t dead, and if they were, beg my neighbors to revive them. Pretty soon, I was spending half an hour ‘on the farm’ just harvesting fruit off my trees. I had to collect all the money from my businesses and put it into the bank, or I’d get jacked by Default Don. I’d have to time my café dishes so I could go to sleep without running out of food, because if I did, my rating would go down and it would be harder to level up. THE HORROR!

It was when I was up at 4:30 in the morning, milking my cows that I realized there is no such thing as casual gaming on Facebook. You start off putting in a few minutes here and there on one or two games. But you get hooked and end up spending hours and hours in virtual land feeding chickens that won’t die and ‘reviving’ fish that did.

Every game is a super sneaky time-sink worse than any video game because it’s free, you don’t have to turn on any consoles or find any controllers, and it’s almost always available. And if you’re like me, you feel guilty heading to bed when your virtual cows need to be milked. And Heaven forbid you pick up a book when your virtual fish are dying…

I tried to get away; I tried to only log in twice a day, once in the morning, once before bed. If the soup spoiled, oh well; I’ll cook up something that takes three days to finish. I’d scour the feeds for ‘farmhands’ and ‘arborists’ so when I went to my now-HUGE farm, I’d just need to click the button and everything was taken care of. I still had dead fish, but I realized they’d not get any deader, so feed the rest and let someone else bring them back. And it worked for a while.

Until someone else got hooked.

I would get friend requests that I’d accept, then neighbor requests that I’d ignore. And I’d try to come up with lame excuses for not accepting the neighbor requests like “I never got the request” or “My baby accidently pressed ‘ignore…’” I’d resorted to blaming my offspring for not wanting to help my friends build a chicken coop or not wanting to save some bride’s wedding. That’s when I’d realized I’d gone too far…

So I’m back on the farm again, but I’m playing it safe with four-day crops. I took the door off my café and only put it back when I feel like cooking for someone. I still get jacked in Mafia Wars, but it’s ok, since I usually don’t have money to steal. And I flushed the dead fish… mostly. I try not to give these games the time I used to, and for the most part it works. I still enjoy playing them. I’ve just figured out how to play them on my terms.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to summon Ballista.

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