I joined Facebook in 2007, but didn’t start playing any games on there until January 2010. I noticed that all my friends on Facebook were playing all these games like, Farmville and Mafia Wars; but I just didn’t have any interest in playing them. Then a guy I liked asked me to join Farmville, so I could send him chickens he needed for his farm. I took the bait, immediately joined, and began working on my farm. The first thing I was excited about was the fact I could make my own character. It was possible to finally have my dream hair color and style; and it looked fantastic with my overalls. Then I started buying seeds, planting them, watched my crops grow, and then harvested them. I visited my friend’s farms and helped them out. I was starting to have a lot of fun doing this. Perhaps too much fun, because the day came when I realized I would start actually timing when I had to go to my farm and harvest my crops. I remember telling my mother I had to wait until I could my strawberries grew so I could harvest them before we left. It felt so natural when I said it too; as if it was perfectly normal to make your plans according to when you had to harvest your crops. Sadly, that was not the moment when I realized I had a problem. Remember I mentioned I had joined Farmville in order to send chickens to the guy I liked? In order to send him chickens I had to reach a certain level, so I started doing a little extra farming to get to that level. I had also just started taking classes for the first time in years; it was my first semester at Massasoit, so I wasn’t home too much during the day. I would worry about my crops while I was in classes. Thank goodness I didn’t realize at the time that I could go to the computer lab and play Farmville there. I was finally able to send this guy chickens, and I sent a lot of them. Of all the crazy things girls do to get a guy; this may make the top ten. Well, at least I learned a valuable lesson I will surely pass on to my children someday. Guys will not fall in love with you just because you send them chickens. Maybe if I had watched more “Little House on the Prairie”, I wouldn’t have gotten myself in this mess to begin with. There must have been an episode in which Laura, her sister Mary, or even good old Nellie sent a chicken to a guy they liked. Anyways, I realized that I was spending too much time worrying about strawberries, peas, corn, and pigs; actual farmers most likely didn’t worry about harvesting their crops as much as I did. I deleted my farm. I was free and no longer playing any games on Facebook. Friends would send me invites to join Farmville; and I would always kindly tell them I was a recovering Farmville addict. Then, a little more than a year later fate intervened. Facebook announced they were adding an Oregon Trail game. I was overjoyed. See, for years I have loved playing Oregon Trail. I had it as a game on my old cell phone. It would be on my Blackberry but I am too cheap to pay for it. Many think Oregon Trail is boring; but I ask you, what is boring about traveling across the country in a covered wagon??? You can hunt buffalo, you learn facts about places like Soda Springs, and when people die of horrible illnesses like dysentery you can make tombstones for them. I’m pretty sure I traveled the Oregon Trail in a past life; that’s the only explanation I can come up with to justify my obsession. I told myself I would only play once. I would make it across the country and that would be it. I traveled with imaginary people so I wouldn’t have a personal attachment to the game. Ironically, I chose to be a farmer for my occupation. I was off an adventure. Until winter came, and I was informed it was too cold to continue traveling. I was devastated and thought I should try once more. This time I chose new people to travel with and named them after my friends. Jason, Jenny Lee, Kevin and Petey were my companions. It was a little more fun to ride across the country with people I knew, and when they came down with horrible diseases I was more determined to help cure them. Two weeks into playing and I am at level 22. We are all currently resting right now, and on our way to Fort Hall. I am not at all ashamed to say that I am, once again, to a Facebook game. I even am playing in secret, I don’t post anything about the game on my Facebook page and no one knows I play. Clearly, I just blew my cover, but that’s okay. The secret I have been keeping for 2 weeks has been weighing me down. I decided to not only go public with my Oregon Trail addiction; but also to find out why makes any Facebook game so addicting. I sent messages to my friends on Facebook that played games; and even to two friends I knew had stopped playing Facebook games. The very first thing I noticed is that there are A LOT of games to play on Facebook. Besides Farmville, there is Frontierville, Sorority Life, Café World, Treasure Isle, Mafia Wars, Bejeweled, Tetris Battle, and many more. One friend admitted that she is addicted to Farmville, and described it as, “…my little world that I created and no harm can come to anyone here…it’s like my safe zone”. Another friend explained that her boyfriend works from 3-11pm and playing games on Facebook keep her entertained. She also mentioned that they are, “…a great break from schoolwork”. Both of my friends mentioned that they go offline and make themselves unavailable to chat on Facebook so that they are not disturbed. The two of my Facebook friends that had quit playing games also provided me with some great information. One of them had been stationed in Iraq, and described playing Mafia Wars as, “…my outlet while in Iraq. Now that I’m home my family is my outlet”. My other friend told me that she loves the Facebook games; but she quit because, “I was spending way too much playing the games. I also think it’s another reason why I wasn’t doing so well in school last semester”. She also explained to me that she grew tired of , “…having to gain friends I didn’t know to get to the next level on some of the games…also there were some games that I passed all the levels and there was nothing else to do so I got rid of the game”. In order to reach certain levels or obtain certain items for the game you are playing; sometimes you have to pay to do so. Both of my Facebook friends who had quit playing the games confessed to spending quite a bit of money during their playing time. I’ve come to the conclusion that a lot of people play these games on Facebook in order to escape from reality, just for a little while. These games help some people unwind, provide entertainment, and are just play fun. I did find two success stories of friends who are recovering from Facebook game addiction, very inspiring. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have spent far too much time away from the Oregon Trail. Winter is quickly approaching, and we have many miles until we reach the west.
** I actually stopped playing Oregon Trail...but I'm sure I'll pick it up again**