Every time I close my eyes these days, all I see are little squares of ploughed fields with grapes, potatoes, tomatoes, strawberries, etc flowering prettily while trees stand laden with red, yellow and orange fruit. I've been killing my eyes, totally absorbed in a game on Facebook called Farm Town.
It's a seriously addictive game where you literally spend hours ploughing fields, seeding plots, waiting for them to ripen, then harvesting them. There are always scores of online farmers literally begging for a harvesting job because it's a great way to score points and earn tons of coins. You can have your FB friends as neighbours whose farms you visit or tend while they're away and in return you get points and coins. You can send them gifts in the shape of animals or trees as well. You can also interact with other players by going to the marketplace which is always full of online FT players begging for harvesting jobs. Or to the very respectable Inn which serves only water, prompting wiseguy quips like, "Waiter, bring me a casket of your best water!" Likewise in the market, besides the tediously unimaginative job-beggars, "Hire me, please hire me, I need a job, big or small", you get the occasional, " I have starving children," or "I have only 3 cents." Don't you just love witticisms in the most unlikely places?
I got so addicted that on my second day, seeing a friend's farm with crops all ripe and ready to be picked (there's a time limit within which crops should be harvested or go to waste), I picked up the phone and called her. She was knee-deep in house repairs, pointing out to hired carpenters which window frames needed to be replaced et al. I felt like a total idiot troubling her about her virtual harvest but oh well, what's a good neighbour for anyway? Another time, I chased down another neighbour in an mirc trivia gameroom to ask if he would hire me to harvest his crops.
I'm not sure what's the highest level for this game but apparently you can buy a mansion at level 35. I'm on 12 now and hoping to buy a small house soon. It costs a kingly 70,000 coins and I have only about half of that now. I know someone who's on level 24 after playing for a week. He probably cheats though he insists he just knows the secret of scoring points. The other day he dropped by for a visit and was aghast at seeing my fences, animals and open spaces. He went, "Tsk tsk what did you put up all this for?! No need for it. Just cover every available inch of space with tons of crops." I told him the fun was in designing and creating your farm, even putting up initials of your sweetheart - check out pictures. He said he was going to do all that once he out-levelled everyone else, even people who'd been playing for 4/5 months. Claimed he'd buy a mansion and a swimming pool then. I told him he was way too competitive and to stop and smell the roses along the way.
Some people just don't know how to have fun. Or maybe their idea of fun is getting to the top before everyone else. I've realised once again something about myself. I'm definitely not the ambitious type. No fast and furious, ambition-driven life for me. I'd rather indulge myself first with friends and have fun along the way. The gentle, peaceful, laid-back life and feel of the first farm (of my buddy Alex from Wales) appeals to me best.