GAMBIT’s Philip Tan in the New York Times

GAMBIT director Philip Tan

GAMBIT director Philip Tan

Today’s New York Times Thursday Styles section features an article on FarmVille, Facebook’s most popular game made up of players tending their virtual farms. Does its popularity signal a wish for quieter times? “Some academics,” by which the Times means Philip Tan of the GAMBIT Game Lab, think so:

Some academics have gone so far as to suggest that their collective popularity points to a widespread yearning for the pastoral life.

“The whole concept of ‘I’m sick of this modern, urban lifestyle, I wish I could just grow plants and vegetables and watch them grow,’ there is something very therapeutic about that,” said Philip Tan, director of the Singapore-M.I.T. GAMBIT Game Lab, a joint venture between the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the government of Singapore to develop digital games.

Of course, real-life farming is quite a bit messier and more dangerous than FarmVille (perhaps just one reason that FarmVille players outnumber actual farmers in the United States by more than 60 to 1). Yet some of the game’s biggest fans are farmers.

“I was having all these deaths on the farm and hurting myself on a daily basis doing real farming,” said Donna Schoonover, of Schoonover Farm in Skagit County, Wash., who raises sheep, goats and Satin Angora rabbits (real ones!). “This was a way to remind myself of the mythology of farming, and why I started farming in the first place.”

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Andrew Whitacre

About Andrew Whitacre

Andrew conducts the communications efforts for CMS/W and its research groups. A native of Washington, D.C., he holds a degree in communication from Wake Forest University, with a minor in humanities, as well as an M.F.A. in creative writing from Emerson College. This work includes drawing up and executing strategic communications plans, with projects including website design, social media management and training, press outreach, product launches, fundraising campaign support, and event promotions.

 
 

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