“The secret to Farmville’s popularity is neither gameplay nor aesthetics. Farmville is popular because in entangles users in a web of social obligations. When users log into Facebook, they are reminded that their neighbors have sent them gifts, posted bonuses on their walls, and helped with each others’ farms. In turn, they are obligated to return the courtesies. As the French sociologist Marcel Mauss tells us, gifts are never free: they bind the giver and receiver in a loop of reciprocity. It is rude to refuse a gift, and ruder still to not return the kindness. We playFarmville, then, because we are trying to be good to one another. We play Farmville because we are polite, cultivated people.” — From an essay by y A. J. Patrick Liszkiewicz
I’ve never played Farmville. Or any other Facebook game. I don’t have a Facebook account anymore and find myself unable to explain why I do not. So it’s hardly fair to use this thoughtful essay as an explanation. But the very essence of Facebook seems to be social obligation. I hate obligations and avoid them wherever possible.
Facebook/Farmville fans can tell me where Mr. Liszkiewicz misses the mark with his essay.