I recently added a few complete strangers to my Facebook friendslist. It wasn’t some kind of scheme to make me look more popular, nor was it to stalk random people. It’s what a lot of Farmville players have to do to be able to play the game at a reasonable level, unless you’re willing to pay your way out of a lot of things OR fortunate enough to have 45 friends who also play Farmville…. I had two (and paying Farmville instead of playing it, is rather expensive).
So not long ago, I sat with this friend-request on my screen, thinking whether or not to press the send button. I found it so creepy to be writing to someone I didn’t know whatsoever asking them to be friends.
Even the text (which is in danish) says "Only send this request if you know him personally".
Adding Fredo would be blending offline friends with not only online friends, but also with people who are just plain random. I didn’t know if I wanted to make my Facebook profile into an extension of Farmville…
… and then I went ahead and did it anyways. Only because of this experiement, not at all because I needed to upgrade my farm….. … ..
Fredo's farm caught withering. That's bad style Fredo!
I found my first “unknown” Farmville neighbour Fredo off the “add me” part of the Farmville forum, in a running thread where people post their Facebook account links, for others to add them as neighbours. It’s get deleted ever so often because posts are quickly outdated, and a new thread begins.
Sometimes Farmville drops in advertizement, which is usually pretty lame. Right now it's "GagaVille".
I’ve been playing Farmville for a few months now, and I have not put any real money into the company behind the game, Zynga Games.
It is easily possible to play the game for free, even though it is based on microtransactions and advertizing.
However, you will have to make a few compromises, mainly that of adding random people to your Facebook account. The logic of Farmville is, the more friends you have as neighbours, the easier it is for you to play. The number of neighbours and plotsize are the two essentials to how quickly you level up and in general are able to be efficient in the game. It’s like a marketing strategy built into the game system, kind of clever. This also means a lot of Farmville players, to not involve their primary Facebook profile, go and make a fake one.
I chose to use my real profile and as time has gone by, I’ve added a total of 4 random people to my Facebook friendslist. I’m keeping the number low, as I’m just playing a casual game casually. It is however possible to powergame Farmville.
This is how powergaming in Farmville looks like. The majority of the space is for crops, the rest is lined on the side. It's about efficiency, not aesthetics, for the powergamer.
I’ve set my Facebook up so that these people can’t see much of my activity, and in return my real friends can’t see the Farmville posts – if they could, they would have blocked me months ago, it’s VERY spammy.
One of my new “friends” is Linda D. It turns out, Linda D’s Facebook profile is not fake, which her adorable portrait picture also shows. Linda looks to be a round 50 something American woman. Her profile picture shows her leaning in over her grumpy husbands shoulder smiling at the camera. When I saw her picture, I couldn’t help but like her, she looks like the nicest person on earth.
Linda has a very well designed farm, I like her layout.
She’s also a nice neighbour, dropping by regularly to fertilize my crops, something Fredo never does.
Once in a while I can see her commenting on her friends and relatives posts and then today I saw this status update from her.
Linda D. considers me her friend!!!! I forgive her for posting chain messages, I forgive Linda D.
But I don’t want to post that as a status update myself, and as I was trying to write something nice like “You’re a good neighbour too”, I paused and deleted it. I’m still learning how to manage these modern internet related “friendships”. How to handle a friendly but random Farmville neighbour on Facebook without being creepy?