How I Fail at Facebook Gaming, or 'F*#$ It, I'm Screwed'

Hi, I’m Dina, and I’m a serial Facebook gamer.

I’ll admit it. I’m not proud, but I’m willing to own up to the occasional unfortunate side effect of my cat-killing levels of curiosity. Facebook gaming is one such effect: I marvel at the phenomenon, get swept away in the crowd of my friends peer pressuring me daily to help them build a chicken coop or drain the blood from a small child, and jump into the deep end.

I go full force for a couple days, and sometimes a couple weeks…heck, two games have had my attention for a couple months…which is saying a lot. But for the most part I quickly lose interest or find myself embarrassed by my own shameless begging for pixel charity by way of spamming the hell out of everyone’s status time lines.

If Google’s advocating name changes for youths looking to escape their mortifying Facebook updates, I’d like a name change to escape my mortifying Facebook gaming past.

But here’s the rub: the only way you can stay really competitive in many of these games is to do precisely what the game makers steer you towards doing, which is to buy Facebook credits (or in-game currency). After all, these games are commercial enterprises and somebody has to pay the costs of serving up millions of virtual farm acres across the globe.

I refuse, however, to spend my hard-earned cash on something as frivolous as Facebook credits (I reserve my hard-earned money for far wiser purchases such as Linden for Second Life).

Unfortunately this clashes very badly with my habit of losing all perception of time, since if you’re not buying credits/game cash, you’re relying on timed tasks like growing kawaii crops or baking oddly mouth-watering cupcakes to make ends meet. These cost money to plant/produce, and every time I let a crop die or burn a pastry, I’m up a creek sans paddle. Is it any wonder I drove my virtual clothing store into the ground? I appear to have all the business sense of the potatoes I famously fail to grow. Repeatedly.

And now I find myself with a meager 35 gold in a game that costs hundreds of gold to do anything remotely cool in, and I’m seriously considering throwing in the towel. Again.

But I have dozens of friends who’ve been playing these games successfully, many without ever buying a credit, for months on end. How do they do well where I cannot seem to measure up? And (excluding my friends, of course) I’ve seen some utter idiots who can keep wicked farms going full force. I’m in my thirties, I’m university educated, I’m an experienced gamer, and I’ve given it the good old college try. I should be able to do this. What am I doing wrong?

Here’s what I’m doing wrong: I’m having a life. I’m breaking every rule in the geek handbook by doing things like working and – for shame – sleeping. I’m checking my Facebook just a handful of times a day. And I’m not tattooing Zynga’s name on my buttock.

(The latter would likely not even impress the folks at Zynga – the leader of whom, Mark Pincus, famously said “I don’t f***ing want innovation” with regard to the gaming giant’s not-so-diverse offerings.)

So what must I take away from all this? That successful Facebook gaming and successful living are two completely separate concepts, and never the twain shall meet? (The cynic in me says this is more or less true. The rest of me says I’m running dangerously close to cheezing off half my friends list.) Perhaps it’s more a lesson of there unmistakably being too much of a good thing. Too many games, too many (pointless?) ambitions, too little time to spread around.

Thus I approach you, fair reader, for your advice when it comes to Facebook gaming. Is there a way to reconcile your Farmville farming and your actual job? Is it possible to play Baking Life and tend to things like circadian rhythms and personal hygiene? Can you keep up your Cafe World and still live in the real world?

And if so, how the heck do you do it, without caving and splashing cash?

The fate of my frontier, my bakery, and sundry other pieces of Facebook real estate rests in your hands. Because I’m about to throw mine up and say “f*#$ it, I’m screwed’.

Related: Hotel City: Just Another Facebook Game App

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