Diggers against Facebook
tony at cultureshop.org.uk
Sun Nov 21 19:27:52 GMT 2010
Main problem with Facebook is that while content
is available to people who are logged in it is
not generally available via search engines and quickly disappears.
Almost a private internet owned by Facebook
and then there's this.........
Tesco to sell facebook currency for real money
Facebook credits go on sale in UK
Tesco and games retailer Game start selling gift
cards in more than 1,000 high street stores to buy virtual online goods
Josh Halliday - guardian.co.uk, Friday 19 November 2010 16.42 GMT
Online currency, with which Facebook users can
purchase pixel-based virtual farm animals or pay
to attend virtual events, might seem small beer.
But now the online goods economy may be about to
boom in the UK, as Tesco and the games retailer
Game start selling Facebook credits in more than 1,000 high street stores.
The UK's 33 million Facebook users will be able
to buy so-called "Facebook credits" in the
non-pixellated world. The gift cards, costing £10
or £20, will only be redeemable on Facebook,
where users can spend the converted currency on
any number of nonexistent objects.
FarmVille: they reap what you sow
FarmVille's success is built on its fantasy of
self-reliance yet its players are just serfs tilling for another's profit
Laurie Penny - guardian.co.uk, Friday 19 November 2010 18.30 GMT
Almost 100 million people play FarmVille, which
has just announced profits of $500m. Photograph: Guardian
There can be no more elegant example of the
alienation of the modern workplace than the fact
that hundreds of millions of employees across the
globe spend their lunch hours pretending to be
farmers on the internet. With all the
breathtaking and transformative power of the web
at their fingertips, armies of workers and young
people still choose to spend their online hours
growing virtual potatoes on badly animated digital fields.
One of the biggest forums for this activity is
FarmVille, the online role-playing game made
popular through Facebook, whose players tend and
trade digital crops and livestock. Almost 100
million people subscribe to the game, which has
just announced profits of $500m (£300m) for 2010.
I have an account myself, and have spent many
happy hours playing on my virtual farm, although
my attempts to grow virtual opium were swiftly curtailed by the virtual CIA.
This week, FarmVille's controlling company,
Zynga, has begun a major expansion drive,
announcing a new deal with Yahoo and marketing
its in-game credits in real-world supermarkets.
Zynga's stock is predicted to soar, especially
after the launch of CityVille, an urban version
that runs along the same principles of clunky
virtual enterprise. Because of the extraordinary
speed with which FarmVille has become popular, it
is tempting to regard it as a fad; but this is no isolated phenomenon.
The internet now boasts several massively popular
farm-themed video games: from Farmerama to Happy
Farm, where 23 million people in China and Taiwan
daily tend their digital crops. Altogether, since
2008, the number of regular players of
farm-themed online games across the world has
ballooned to almost 150 million 2.5% of the entire human race.
Most video games have obvious escapist themes,
allowing players to immerse themselves in
fantastical scenarios such as leading dwarf
armies or shooting aliens in epic space battles.
FarmVille is not really about escaping to a farm
most of the office workers saving their digital
coins to buy virtual tractors would panic were
they ever to be presented with an actual pig.
Perhaps what the sudden popularity of
co-operative farming games shows is that, for
many modern workers, the idea of owning a piece
of land within a friendly community is now just
as inconceivable as pulverising zombie invaders in Resident Evil 4.
Farming games tap into a powerful collective
wish-fulfilment fantasy: the fantasy of running
your own life rather than being a peasant in the
neo-feudal hierarchy of corporate serfdom. The
precarity and anxiety of modern labour conditions
have become more acute during the financial
crises of the past two years, and this is
precisely the timeframe in which the craze for these online games took off.
The bitter irony, of course, is that FarmVille
itself is a neo-feudal state, where rich virtual
landowners exploit the free labour of virtual
farmhands to make real profits. For all its
evocation of rustic utopia, this and other farm
simulations are ruthless markets whose
exploitation of human emotion is anything but
virtual. Real-world gift cards, now available in
real-world supermarkets, can buy FarmVille
players in-game advantages such as better
"equipment" and more "seeds", and, as with many
games, some independent speculators have made
huge profits by trading online assets and even
running gaming sweatshops to boost their profits.
The launch of CityVille may simply be the logical
next step in the online industrial revolution.
The stated mission of Zynga is to "connect the
world through games" but rather than connecting
the world, online farming games unite it in a
compliant virtual fantasy of self-determination
that displaces real resistance. Alienated workers
pay real money to play out a fantasy of having
control over the products of their own labour,
but the true tragedy is that, even in the jerky
bucolic idyll of FarmVille, they are still working for someone else's profit.
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"Capitalism is institutionalised bribery."
"The maintenance of secrets acts like a psychic
poison which alienates the possessor from the community" Carl Jung
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