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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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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.

"If they're going to pirate somebody, we want it to be us rather than somebody else." -- Microsoft Business Group President Jeff Raikes

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