Christ on a cocking bike. As if 2020 hasn’t already been a shitshow. Not just any shitshow, but an all-singing, all-dancing extravaganza of excrement, a colossal carnival of stinking dog eggs. In fact, if there was an actual Shit Show, and it involved every shit everyone’s ever done performing hits from the musicals, such as Shitting in the Rain, Don’t Shit on My Parade, Let Shit Go etc, this show would still be shitter. And just to top it all off, they’ve cancelled FarmVille.
Alright, let’s be honest: FarmVille isn’t officially gone till 31 December, but it’s already forgotten. I just paid a visit to an old Facebook group where I used to hang out with a load of players, back when hanging out in Facebook groups wasn’t just for old people. That’s right kids, I’m one of you, just look at my collection of drugs and loom bands.
The group was called “Leo’s FarmVille Syndicate”. We gathered there to swap goods, form co-ops, and slag each other off for failing to water crops or produce enough grain. A better name would have been “Leo’s Virtual Gulag.”
Reading the posts now, they are threaded with emotions familiar to any FarmVille fan: aspiration (“Please can everyone join my tomato co-op? I really want an Indian elephant,”) frustration (“What is it with this rice job. I’m never gonna get this tree!!”), resignation (“This week I will mostly be collecting bees and garage parts,”) and grudging, resentful, venomous and unbridled envy (“I’m well jealous of Ellie’s penguin.”)
But now tumbleweeds blow amongst the requests for tulips and the commiserations for Tina after she accidentally sold her bi-plane due to over-zealous clicking. No one has posted in the group since November 2010 – just seven months after I wrote an article about how FarmVille had taken over my life.
Oh yeah, I was in deep. I had forgotten how deep, in fact, until reading one of my old posts today. “Need two horseshoes and five harnesses. Also bottles and blankets,” I wrote, on 23 July 2010. The eve of my wedding. Yep, I was still focused on horse admin, at a time when I should have been getting my nails done and cutting a hole in a sheet.
There are a few more messages from me after that (including one the day I got back from honeymoon, obvs), but by September, I’d stopped posting. Until today, anyway; I decided to mark FarmVille’s passing with a song. No likes so far.
So what went wrong? What made me and the other 84,999,999 people who played FarmVille at its peak abandon our crops and send our horses to the glue factory? Honestly, I’ve no idea. I’ve had two kids and survived a global pandemic since then. I can’t be expected to recall what happened a decade ago; I can barely remember which hole my piss comes out of.
Probably, we just happened upon some new distraction, as is the way of humans. Everything gets old eventually, with the exception of Declan Donnelly, and Del Boy falling through the bar, apparently.
But I do remember FarmVille being a great distraction. I think fondly of that time when my Facebook page was full of horseshoes and penguins, instead of anti-maskers failing to see the irony of simultaneously positing themselves as All Lives Matterers. And I miss having something I could cultivate, control and shape, that could be tidied neatly into rows, in contrast to the chaos and unpredictability of the real world.
And that was in 2010, back when everyone was lolling at the very idea that the big orange version of Alan Sugar might run for president, and when Ancient Egypt day rolled around at school, mothers thought nothing of wasting an entire toilet roll on a costume for their child.
So farewell, old friend. I had forgotten how much you meant to me. I will miss you more than I knew. Perhaps what the world needs now, along with love, sweet love, and a mutation of the Corona virus that causes racists’ arseholes to heal over, thus depriving them of the power of speech, is FarmVille.