July 12, 2010 / in Social Media / by Jason Terry
If you are like me, you have laughed and rolled your eyes at “those” people that spend their time playing social games like Farmville and the most recently launched Frontierville. If you haven’t heard of these games (gasp!), they are the creation of a company named Zynga. (Valued at over $1 Billion…) They build Flash based games that plug in to the Facebook social media network. In the majority of PC based games, you play against the computer. The twist on “social gaming” is that you play online with or against your friends. Also, the people playing don’t have to be playing at the same time. One person does something in the game in the morning, and their friend can respond when they have time to play that evening. In other words, it is closer to turn-based games like Risk.
The title of this article is “Frontierville – Waste of Time?”. I have assumed the answer is YES for so long and realized that I needed to at least play one of these games so that I could have an opinion based on experience. This hit my radar when my brother Mike asked me to be his Frontierville friend when he was at my house 2 weeks ago. Apparently, he and his wife Elizabeth both play the game and they were looking for “neighbors”. The concept is that the more people you invite to be neighbors of the Frontier that you are building, the more perks, resources and awards you get in the game. So basically they didn’t care if I played or not, they just wanted me to sign up to be a neighbor. <grin>
When I was growing up, I remember that we would get together to play board games for entertainment. Life, Scrabble and Parcheesi were fun nights for the Terry family. (I know, might not be the most exciting, but it allowed our family to spend time together.) I will come back to this…
Back to Today
So here is the deal. I signed up and learned how to play the game Frontierville. The game starts with you being plunked down in the middle of a forested area with a wagon, some chickens and a few planted crops. That’s it. From then on, you have to chop down trees, clear grass and rocks and work on building a homestead. I made some progress and was able to build a cabin. Then my brother Mike and his wife Liz connected to my homestead as neighbors. They started randomly showing up in the game to help me with my land. This gave them “points” for helping me and gave me points as well for accepting their help. So that’s where this game got me. It was actually a lot of fun to compare homesteads with Mike and Liz. The whole “Jonesing” for things played itself out virtually as I realized that my homestead wasn’t as nice as Mike and Liz’s. It made me want to work on it more. And I did. It kinda feels like the family playing board games again. I have enjoyed this little experiment and realized that I was hasty to judge social games as a waste of time.
So my answer to the question of whether Frontierville is a waste of time, I say no. It is a fun way to stay in touch with my family more frequently. It doesn’t take a lot of time to “get in and get out” for 10 minutes as a distraction during a busy day. I enjoy building things, and watching my virtual homestead coming together has been surprisingly rewarding. My recommendation is that you give Frontierville or something similar a chance before blindly scoffing at the concept. That said, if you get addicted to things and can’t keep balance in your life, then stay away from Frontierville!