Facebook Games: Society’s Zenith or Downfall?

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Pro

Gotta love those Facebook games

While Facebook is generally known as a social network, another aspect of Facebook is becoming increasingly popular – the games. That’s right. Facebook is home to a variety of games, from Texas Hold’em to Mobsters 2, and they’re becoming extremely popular extremely fast.

I’ll admit it, I am absolutely obsessed with Facebook games, and it’s nice to know I’m not alone. In fact, 1.7 million people can be found on the five games created by the company Playfish, one of which is the very popular FarmVille, every single day, according to John Davison, who writes for whattheyplay.com. Even more shocking? Playfish has 22 million players who spend approximately 555, 556 hours on Playfish games every month. And that’s not even counting the people on the hundreds of other games found on the site. Facebook games definitely hold a place in people’s hearts – and their time.

Those who haven’t been swept away by the Facebook game craze might wonder why they’re so popular. The answer is really quite simple. They’re addicting – really addicting. Anyone who has spent countless hours collecting ingredients on Restaurant City or training fish on Fish Bowl can testify to it. No matter how simple the games sound, they can get rather interesting – and extremely hard to quit.

Another reason is the great variety. Whether you’re more interested in gambling, answering trivia, or roleplaying as a Harry Potter character, there’s a game for each and everyone of you on Facebook. Want to be a gang leader? Play Mafia War. Like arcade games? Yep, there’s that, too. The sheer number of games means that people with all kinds of different interest can find the right game for them.

Why play Facebook games? They’re fun and the perfect way to kill time on a lazy Saturday afternoon. But, consider this your warning. You might start out playing it only on the weekends and quickly find that you’re playing even when you have a major test the next morning – and ignoring all your friends’ attempts to chat to squeeze in a little more time to play. I’d know. After all, you just can’t get enough of those Facebook games.

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Con

Why harvesting corn online doesn’t really mean much

As you sit there waiting for your eggplants to finish growing (they’re actually only 52% done), you really should ask yourself what you plan to do with those newly made crops. Sell them? Where? Yet you sit there telling your fictional avatar to harvest some more land.

This is the typical scene in the new Facebook game, Farmville. Now categorized with others like Crazy Taxi, Cube Field and Texas HoldEm’ Poker, Farmville is shooting its way to the top. But, although most of us are blinded by a love of social networking, these games are really just a huge waste of time.

So how have these games become so popular? In Crazy Taxi, we all find ourselves mesmerized by the fact that such a heavy car can jump almost naturally over every car in its path solely with the push of the space button. There are even sound effects! And so we all sit there for hours trying to beat our best friend’s high score. This same story applies to almost every other Facebook game there is. None of us have ever been so thrilled to see an abundance of notifications come up telling us that “Your friend Joe Schmo has just harvested tomatoes! Join him in Farmville today!” Is this where we want our society to go? Is this what we want the next pioneer generation of America to be rooted in? Online time-wasters?

The average time spent on Facebook in June of 2009 by 12-18 year olds was four hours and 39 minutes (based on a study done by businessinside.com). That is excluding the constant connections people are making through mobile devices. In a world where studies prove that children need 6-8 hours of sleep a night, where academic levels are constantly increasing, and where nutrition habits have become incessantly more important, we spend multiple hours a day on one website. Not only does this affect our academic careers and the way we perform in school, but it contributes to the change in lifestyle that America has seen since the introduction of these games. Instead of working on that history homework that was due yesterday, the common teenager will be seen messaging their new found friend, “It’s your turn to bet, idiot.”

So to all you students out there, the moral of the story is, if you have a problem with the hours of sleep you get in the day, if you have a problem with the time it takes you to do your homework, if you have a problem with your nutritional habits and appearance, don’t blame others—save yourself some time in the day and stop playing mindless online games.

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