What’s the deal with Farmville?

If you believe what a few of its 72 million worldwide players told USATODAY, the Facebook-based, virtual-reality social game offers a mild sense of escape, fosters a sort of virtual diligence (about tending one’s virtual crops and farm animals), and encourages community and charity toward one’s virtual neighbors (neighbors get “points and gold for scaring away pests, fertilizing or feeding chickens” on each other’s land). Farmville wasn’t always purely positive, of course (see “Social gaming cleaning up its act?”). Farmville’s parent, San Francisco-based game developer Zynga, announced last fall it was banishing all “offer advertising” from its games (Farmville fans, have you seen any lately?), but they’re something to watch out for in social games – those parasitical little offers that tricked players into ultimately paying “far more for in-game currency than if they just paid [the game itself] cash,” TechCrunch reported. Just because Zynga supposedly got rid of it doesn’t mean other developers did, so talk with your kids about “free” offers on phones and on the Web. [Meanwhile, SocialTimes.com reports that the BBC is getting into social gaming (looking at the iPhone, Facebook, and Nintendo Wii and DS platforms), having hired a new executive VP of games.]

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