My number one barometer for anything tech is ‘er indoors. As one of the most technophobic people I know, she has eschewed most of what I consider essential tools for many a year. All that’s changed in the last couple of months. First was the MacBook which she wanted in order to get onto email with the family back in the UK. Unfortunately, I commandeered the laptop so what started as a good faith purchase ended up as yet another nail in the technophobic coffin.
That changed when I acquired the iPhone. The iPod Touch was passed on and all of a sudden a new world opened up with the iPhone Facebook application. It wasn’t long before the question of laptop access reared its head again. As it happened, the MacBook was proving less than adequate in large part because of the lack of Firewire, needed to connect the XL2 while on the road. Cue a MacBookPro and a happy lady who now had her hands on a MacBook with Facebook set up.
What’s the Big Deal with Facebook? Farmville. It’s a ridiculously addictive game that keeps you playing by getting you to feed things, apply fertilizer, have fertilizer applied to crops, buy and sell various things with Facebook friends. There’s a bit more subtlety to it than that but you get the idea.
In recent days Farmville has come under something of a cloud. According to the Sydney Morning Herald:
The reputation of Farmville, one of the most popular applications on Facebook, has fallen into a ditch following the launch of a class action by some of its users over an alleged billing scam.
The addictive farming application has amassed 60 million players worldwide and is just one of several popular social networking games created by US developer Zynga for Facebook and MySpace users.
Even so, the game keeps milady well and truly glued to her laptop for hours on end, flitting between that app, Fishworld (another Zynga game with similar addictive qualities e.g. ‘Oh my goodness, I need to get the fish fed.’) Facebook chat, messaging and photo posting. Subtly, Facebook, or rather these applications, are enticing her to stay in ‘their world’ viewing advertising offers Facebook dishes up (and occasionally saying, ‘Hmm, I fancy one of these.’)
‘er indoors is no shopaholic but the combination of well thought out game play and friend recommendations are holding her interest, providing what seems to me a kind of immersive experience.
Imagine someone invents a business game that might appeal to the business user. Imagine that game teaches the business person some of the basics of running a business. You could argue Farmville partially fulfills that purpose but it’s a tad lightweight. Now imagine that is sponsored/owned/developed by a firm of professionals. Might that be something that would prove sticky enough to make people associate the game with firm? I can see that working. But there is more.
Despite the popularity of other social networking destinations like Twitter (my personal favourite) I see more and more people using Facebook. As one friend said: “Twitter is for those with ego problems, Facebook is for connecting.” It’s a fair point given all the pimping that goes on though one I find hard to parse against the clutter that flows past my Facebook screen.