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Virtual crops harvested in FarmVille
By Vince Pierri | Daily Herald Columnist

FarmVille, a video game on Facebook, is attracting teens across the nation. Here, from left, Ashley Bigos, Joe Noseges and Michael Steinheiser engage the virtual farm.

 

Vince Pierri | Staff Photographer

The new video game on Facebook is growing faster than the virtual crops being planted by the millions of "farmers" who visit the site.

 

Vincent Pierri | Staff Photographer

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Published: 9/2/200 12:04 AM

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If you haven't heard of FarmVille yet, you soon will.

The new video game on Facebook is growing faster than the virtual crops being planted by the millions of "farmers" who visit the site.

There are probably some older farmers out there but the game is most appealing to the high school and college set right now.

And what, exactly, is FarmVille?

A couple of Mundelein teenagers can give you the straight scoop on the new social media amusement.

Michael Steinheiser and Joe Noseges have a love-hate relationship with the game.

"There are other games on Facebook but they are really stupid," Noseges said. "Well, FarmVille is stupid too, but the other ones are really stupid."

Noseges is a College of Lake County freshman. Steinheiser is a senior at Vernon Hills High School.

OK, so what's the objective?

"You start off with a 12 by 12 farm. The more you play, the bigger it gets," Steinheiser said. "You want to have the biggest farm with the most stuff. That's it. You want to grow an empire of crops bigger than your friends.'"

Just like real farming, patience is a virtue in FarmVille. The plants grow slowly.

"You start by planting strawberries. You plant them and then have to wait four hours for them to grow." Noseges said. "Four hours in real time. Eggplant takes a lot longer."

Noseges says you can't fall asleep on the job if you want a bountiful harvest.

"I plant a crop right before bed. It takes eight hours to grow," he said. "I sleep with my laptop next to me so that when I wake up, I can harvest really fast. If you wait too long, they all die. Then you're just screwed."

The more you harvest, the more coins you earn. And you need the coins to buy more seed, put gas in the tractor and enlarge your territory.

You can raise money the old-fashioned way by working for it. But you can also use real cash to get the fake cash.

"If you sign up for Netflix, you get 40,000 coins," Steinheiser explained. "You can buy three Disney DVDs and get a bunch of coins. Or you can just pay $40 and get like 70,000 coins. But we never do that. It's like cheating."

The guys say laboring on their video farm is almost as demanding as real agriculture.

"When you have to harvest and plow at the same time, it's awful," Noseges said. "It takes forever and your fingers hurt. It's like farming in real time and it's ridiculous."

The guys admit FarmVille is a time vampire sucking up hours of their day, but they still play.

"I'm probably on for two hours a day," Steinheiser said. "It's the biggest waste of time ever. The only reason we're playing is to beat each other."

Is there an end game? How do you win?

"Once I beat all my friends, I'll be done with this game," Steinheiser said. "But that's what all my friends are saying, so I don't think there's a way out."