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Many gamers have debated whether Facebook games like FarmVille are "real" games. Where do you stand?

The very first video game I ever played was "Shark Attack" for Atari 2600. This early memory established my love for both sharks, and video games (not necessarily in that order). As I grew up, I owned several game consoles like the NES, SNES, Sega, PlayStation/PlayStation 2, Nintendo 64, Xbox 360 and the Wii. 

I didn't, however, play very many PC games while growing up. I had arcade-style games like "Frogger" for Windows 95, and dabbled in "Diablo ll" in my Windows 98 days. More recently, I had an infatuation with "World of Warcraft" and "Spore," but that's about it. 

Fast forward to summer 2009, when I first created my Facebook. I realize I jumped on the Facebook bandwagon a little later than most, but I was anti-social networking up until that point. Curiosity got the best of me, eventually. 

The first month of having a Facebook was confusing for someone who knew nothing about it. My problem wasn't the fact that I couldn't figure out how to post a status or add friends or anything, but rather, I didn't understand the barrage of game requests. I thought Facebook was just MySpace minus the music. 

This brings me to a debate that I've thought about and read about numerous times, but haven't really discussed with anyone yet: Are Facebook games considered "real" games?

The first time I made the comparison in my head, my first thought was, "Absolutely not." Facebook games are completely ridiculous and uninteresting. Zynga's little farm animals on FarmVille and gangsters on Mafia Wars do not compare to a console or PC game, which has a plot, better graphics and better overall gameplay.

But all opinions aside, really think about it. At this point, has FarmVille evolved to possess these qualities that we love about console/PC games? Meaning, a plot, better graphics and lengthy, in-depth gameplay? The things a person can do on FarmVille now as opposed to what they could do on the game two years ago has progressed by leaps and bounds. For instance, I saw some random post the other day talking about their U.S. farm and their British farm. FarmVille is going global, folks. 

With the user's character and farm constantly evolving, it seems players always have more options or choices to make in order to continuously play the game, while console/PC games tend to take a few hours or days to beat, and then you're done until a slightly different version is released a year later for $60 a pop. 

I've heard some arguments categorize FarmVille and other Facebook games with apps on smartphones like Angry Birds, saying they are just time-wasters. In my opinion, this is absolutely true for most games on Facebook, and I also feel that way about FarmVille because I see it as a waste of time. But for those who are hardcore FarmVille players, this might not be the case. Like the PlayStation Network and Xbox Live, FarmVille has a large social network that allows "neighbors" to play the game with one another in real-time, and they do it for hours and hours, day after day.

My conclusion? You probably think I'm an avid digital farmer, but that's not what I'm getting at. I simply find it interesting that a game developed and played much like other role play console/PC titles is treated like a second-rate citizen, and I'm curious as to why gamers think this is. 

Personally, I'm sticking with the "I'm too cool for FarmVille" attitude. I like my retro games and select new titles for my various consoles, and I'm sticking to it. For me, the biggest problem is that the game is just uninteresting and annoying, especially when I have to watch my aunts and 10-year-old nieces posting "PLEEZ HELP MY FARM!!! SEND ME RABBITS!!11!" every two minutes. It's cult-like, kind of like die-hard Apple fans shaving Apple's into the back of their heads and selling kidneys for an iPad 2.

I can sit here and laugh at all the people exchanging digital pigs on Facebook, but Facebook may get the last laugh if its games make it the biggest bank by 2015 as Ken Rutkowski, founder and president of Metal International, predicted last month.

But my question stands: What makes FarmVille "less than" console/PC titles as far as development and gameplay goes? What specific characteristics must it obtain to reach the ultimate status of being a "real" game?

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What game isn't?
By wordsworm on 6/3/2011 8:04:43 AM , Rating: 5
When it comes down to it, what game isn't a waste of time? How is Quake a better game than Farmville? Is it because I get to frag folks? That goes contrary to even simple principles. Is it really better to pretend that you're killing people than to pretend that you're managing a farm?

The anti-FB game crowd too often wastes its own time on their own trivial games. Often, those games represent questionable activities, such as killing.

In any case, it's hard for me to say one kind of gamer is better or worse than another. Can't we all just respect how each person decides to waste their time when they want to relax?

RE: What game isn't?
By The Raven on 6/3/2011 10:10:08 AM , Rating: 2
QFT. Though it should be said that "wasting time" is part of much needed relaxation and possibly important family time. Even with games where there is phyical activity involved, you are still wasting time (you could be chopping wood instead of swinging a bat ;-)

For me the most important part of the gaming experience is the relaxation aspect. Then the social. But that is just me and we are all different.

But you are right that pretty much every game out there is a waste of time and this shouldn't be an argument.

I mean are Youtube videos entertaining compared to broadcast TV? Who the hell cares if it was caught on a Handycam?

RE: What game isn't?
By Tiffany Kaiser on 6/3/2011 12:45:46 PM , Rating: 1

RE: What game isn't?
By EricMartello on 6/4/2011 12:25:13 AM , Rating: 5
When it comes down to it, what game isn't a waste of time? How is Quake a better game than Farmville? Is it because I get to frag folks? That goes contrary to even simple principles. Is it really better to pretend that you're killing people than to pretend that you're managing a farm?

This is some fail comparison going on here. First of all, if nothing else FPS shooters:

- Improve hand/eye coordination.
- Improve decisiveness.
- Improve communication techniques (for team play).
- Improve accuracy of fine motor skills.

Farmville and games like it do nothing other than waste time. Pretending you are managing a farm? Hardly. The game is simply a fail version of Sim City anymore, where the act of farming is simply a means to buy more pointless crap. There is no point to farmville other than to perform repetitive tasks to decorate your "farm".

Your reward for playing farmville is a false sense of productivity - and the reason it appeals to so many people is a reflection of how many incompetent people there really are in the world. That all being said, it's still a game - it's just a bad one.

I don't care what other people do for entertainment or relaxation but don't go thinking that you're hours pissed away playing Farmville improved anything about you in any way.

RE: What game isn't?
By wordsworm on 6/4/2011 9:02:59 PM , Rating: 4
Farmville might be good for developing social and design skills. It's also non-violent.

FPS are violent. That's a counter against them.

How do you know that Farmville might not have the same effect as a FPS? My wife played it last year, and I can tell you that at some times when a group of them were together playing it and competing for harvests and plowing, she was clicking like it was the end of the world. There had to be an awful lot of 'hand-eye coordination' going on there. As to decisiveness, where to put the house? What to buy with your Farmville cash... sounds like Farmville's got that one, too. Communication? Well, a lot of Farmville players play precisely because of the social aspect of working together. They chat. So, looks like Farmville has that aspect as well. Fine motor skills: you have to be careful where you click when you're placing something.

So, whatever positives you brought up for FPS are also present in Farmville.

Let's see how FPS fail compared to Farmville. In Farmville, you have to work on your aesthetic. Making a farm look good while yet allowing the farmer to make 'cash' is important to many people. They choose from hundreds of options and can sometimes create a pleasing image. FPS do not have this at all.

You also have to find people to help you on your farm. In essence, you go looking for people to harvest and plow for you. This teaches you how to find people and get them to work for you. I don't see this happening in FPS.

As mentioned before, FPS are violent. It makes guns look cool and interesting, not to mention the act of killing. Farmville does not do this.

So, in these ways, Farmville is superior to FPS. My advice to you: stop wasting your time on FPS and start playing Farmville.

That was a bit tongue-in-cheek, but your point that FPS are better is not correct. Why spend time on a FPS when you could be studying English (to learn the difference between your and you're, for instance) or art (which might consequently improve your ability to design an aesthetically pleasing farm in Farmville) or something fulfilling (like having an actual farm that grows vegetables and fruit)?

RE: What game isn't?
By EricMartello on 6/5/11, Rating: -1
RE: What game isn't?
By wordsworm on 6/6/2011 8:03:04 AM , Rating: 1
You seem to be mentally retarded.

I couldn't care less if anyone disagrees with me or not. The truth doesn't care about popularity. It is what it is.

Art is making something beautiful or meaningful from some kind of medium. It really doesn't matter what one uses to paint the canvas. What matters is the aesthetic of the artist him or herself.

We don't have a Motel 6 here, as far as I know. Is that where you go with your family?

People who play Farmville ought not to be judged based on their choice of entertainment. Farmville itself is not a bad form of entertainment. I played it a bit with my wife until we grew bored of it. I did my long hours with FPS starting with Wolfenstein, Doom, and ending with Quake and Serious Sam, before it became boring for me. How many times can you frag someone before it becomes boring? Apparently it took me about 7 or 8 years. The best game I've played in a long time is The Movies. It's much more interesting than FPS. You should try it.

RE: What game isn't?
By EricMartello on 6/6/11, Rating: -1
RE: What game isn't?
By wordsworm on 6/8/2011 9:43:14 AM , Rating: 3
There are people who played farmville who went on to have a real farm. Imagine that, a farm that does something that's essential to the welfare of the human race. What exactly does a race car driver accomplish that's useful? Sounds like a waste of time to me. Not to mention it wastes fuel and resources to race around in circles.

In any case, I'm glad that there are many Motel 6s for you to get some privacy with your mother. The country in which I live does not have them:

RE: What game isn't?
By EricMartello on 6/10/2011 5:15:50 PM , Rating: 2
Please illustrate how playing farmville DIRECTLY enabled a person to learn true farming skills such as maintaining equipment, establishing tradelines to sell your crops/livestock, properly managing the land, etc...



Oh wait, farmville does nothing of the sort so at best you have some weak correlation of someone playing a game called "farmville" that has little to do with farming, who decided to start a real farm...because playing farmville will not teach you anything about operating a real farm. At best it may make some peoople curious about farming, but so could a book.

No we know you're a moron; that has already been firmly established. You are not funny despite your best attempts...which begs the question, why do you continue posting? Still mad about the Motel 6 comment? LOL You're wife isn't mad. She likes it. Did you check her email and text messages or did she delete them? You're probably fat too. Awww..

RE: What game isn't?
By TSS on 6/21/2011 6:08:31 AM , Rating: 2
Before i make my arguement i have to note that the FPS of today is a shadow of FPS's of yesteryear. I draw my experiences still from the big 3: Quake 3, Unreal Tournament and Counter Strike.

Aesthetics is important in FPS too, just as much as in farmville. Even back in quake 3 if i couldn't play as Orb, i was upset, because that character appealed the most to me. Never mind that it did exactly the same things as all the other characters.

Getting people to help you is even more important in FPS then Farmville to the point that entire games are designed around team aspects. Left 4 Dead and Bullitstorm come to mind, though today it's nigh every FPS.

I have to digress from your arguements for a moment to provide one of my own why "traditional" games are better then "casual" games: Consequences. What consequences does farmville have for failing? having a smaller farm. What consequences does an FPS have when you fail? You can't play. Every time you'll meet an enemy you get shot and die.

FPS games aren't violent, people are violent. I've never heard anybody using "violent" to describe any part of a lion eating a water buffalo. Yet when one human inflicts harm onto anything it's "violent".

Case in point: i played UT2004 instagib CTF at such an high level, i *was* the winning team. During those matches where i litteraly murdered everybody on the server, i never once became or felt violent. At most, i felt excited because i was doing very well and i knew it. Counterstrike however was the only game that's ever turned me violent. I've hit my desk with my fist a couple of times simply because the game was so hard, no matter what i did i couldn't win, just get a big better each time. That was frustrating, and frustration turned into violence. When i started winning at the game, i've never once become violent again.

The question remains unawnsered though: Are games like farmville legit games? The awnser is yes, but with a twist. It's not a question of legitimacy. There isn't such a thing as a "real" and a "fake" game. If you are able to interact with a digital simulation, it's a legitimate game.

It's a question of competition and how much of the game is bsaed around that. It's why games like L4D fail but games like counterstrike succeed, even though their both team based. CS is competative. Teamwork is important but you are still trying to beat the enemy. L4D you're competing against the same people you're supposed to be working with. That fails.

The fact of the matter is, Farmville is not competative. Just because people play it competativly doesn't mean it was designed to be. It was designed to be social, to make interacting with other people more important then interacting with the game.

While Counterstrike was designed from the getgo to be competative, to beat the other team, to win the round. There's even incentives for it: if you win the pistol round most likely next round you have a Colt or a AK47 while the other team is stuck using pistols for another round. Back in the day if one person chatted too much, they where told "stop chatting start shooting" or "go join a chat room".

That's why many "hardcore" gamers don't consider farmville and the like to be legitimate games. Because your interest as gamer isn't in the game, it's in the other people, whatever the game might be. This is the sole cause of deterioration we've seen in the traditional PC games, aka the "Dumbing down" of games. It's the sole reason i cannot get any team shots in bullitstorm (gives 500 to each of 4 people) because some noob keeps headshotting the team mob ( a total of 10 points just for him). Because those people have no interest in that game. And hardcore gamers have no interest in interacting with those people, it's usully *the* main reason they bury themselves in their games.

It's also the reason the distinctions "hardcore" gamer and "casual" gamer exist. One plays the games for the games, one plays the games for the social interaction with other people.

PS. Sorry for the long post. But this is a fickle matter that has persisted and will persist for a very long time.

RE: What game isn't?
By rdhood on 6/13/2011 3:31:42 PM , Rating: 2
What game isn't a waste of time

That's a tough one. People do what they have to maintain sanity. It is hard to judge what has value from the outside looking in. My "waste of time" might be someone else's lifeline to lower blood pressure.

All that aside, I gave up games and took up guitar. I would say that it is equally as fascinating, and takes as much dexterity as a 3rd person shooter. For me, after many months of guitar instead of games, I can actually play something that resembles music! Seriously, I honestly think that there ARE alternatives to games if people would find them... things that might offer a similar learning and screwing-around type of experience that actually leads to a fulfilling skill.

Facebook excels at..
By icanhascpu on 6/3/2011 6:55:36 AM , Rating: 2 thing; getting your dataz.

It is also very good at having the most retarded, unneeded complex BS behind a facade of simplicity. This facilitates the one thing it excels at (see above).

This articles question, are FB games real, is a silly sidenote. Games are games whether 3D and 16GB, 2D and 1KB, physical and made of cardboard or psychological and made of the mind.

A game is what you play it.

RE: Facebook excels at..
By nxjwfgwe on 6/3/2011 7:25:38 AM , Rating: 2
My conclusion? You probably think I'm an avid digital farmer, but that's not what I'm getting at. I simply find it interesting that a game developed and played much like other role play console/PC titles is treated like a second-rate citizen, and I'm curious as to why gamers think this is.

RE: Facebook excels at..
By nxjwfgwe on 6/3/2011 7:32:39 AM , Rating: 1
My conclusion? You probably think I'm an avid digital farmer, but that's not what I'm getting at. I simply find it interesting that a game developed and played much like other role play console/PC titles is

RE: Facebook excels at..
By nxjwfgwe on 6/3/11, Rating: 0
RE: Facebook excels at..
By nxjwfgwe on 6/3/11, Rating: -1
RE: Facebook excels at..
By nxjwfgwe on 6/3/11, Rating: 0
RE: Facebook excels at..
By nxjwfgwe on 6/3/11, Rating: -1
RE: Facebook excels at..
By nxjwfgwe on 6/3/11, Rating: -1
By EntreHoras on 6/3/2011 7:41:28 AM , Rating: 2
For me, Farmville is a matter of instant gratification and OCD. Playing Farmville is as easy as web browsing. You don't need to think much about it, nor focus on it and can be played on your netbook while watching TV. Also, for anyone who has a trace of OCD, this game exploits this. The game play is based on completing masteries. Each mastery is achieved trough harvesting crops or trees. Each mastery could take days to achieve and there are hundreds. Then, you have the challenges, like having your farm in the UK. It's an endless game and I need to have all the masteries and challenges.
The sad part (for the gamer who reads this) is that I'm playing like 60 hours of Farmville and like 3 hours of PS3 games per month.

By ie5x on 6/3/2011 7:49:06 AM , Rating: 2
Thanks to the otherwise useless facebook, I no longer have to deal with "look @ this, this is so much fun..." emails plaguing my office/personal mailbox sent by my friends and other acquaintances who had loads of free time and nothing useful to do. Now they simply pollute each others facebook walls with those forwards. Apart from this trash collecting gesture, I don't think there is anything good which facebook has done to the web. I used to have a page when their privacy policies made sense, not anymore.

By mmatis on 6/3/2011 2:07:26 PM , Rating: 2
is no Angry Birds...

They're all games
By B3an on 6/3/2011 8:33:37 AM , Rating: 1
I actually make these kind of Flash and smartphone games, and i'd say they're definitely "real" games. Just because something does not have hundred of thousands of $ pumped into it does not mean it's not a real game.

As for graphics, they have absolutely nothing to do with what makes a game, i think most gamers would atleast definitely agree on that one, as it's more about gameplay. Games do not even need a plot or storyline to be considered a "real game". Many popular and classic games on console or PC have not had any story or plot whatsoever.

Most of the best Flash games far outdo old classics on the Atari, Amiga, NES, SNES, Genesis/MegaDrive in terms of graphics, complexity, sound, art and any other areas. So using the logic of the people who dont consider these Flash/phone games "real games" then pretty much every old game was not a "real game" either.

Obviously Flash/phone games wont compare to the big console and PC games with graphics, but some can match these games in programming complexity (in terms of features and gameplay).
Another thing is Flash will also soon be able to match consoles in terms of graphics, as Flash Player 11 will have new Molehill API's that allow it access to DirectX 9 and OpenGL for full 3D acceleration. Almost anything currently possibly with DirectX 9 games will soon be possible with Flash in the browser, or as a app (think of it like WebGL, but better). So will some people still not consider these real games either even if they rival console graphics?

BTW Farmville is worth $12 billion. Thats more than twice as much as Electronic Arts (EA) is worth. I think it's an utter sh*t game but just because i hate it does not mean it's not a real game or admire it's programming which is more advanced than many games on Xbox Live Arcade.

"The Space Elevator will be built about 50 years after everyone stops laughing" -- Sir Arthur C. Clarke

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