The Atlantic reports that if you're a Facebook user, chances are you've heard of "farming" on the social networking site.
The trend story credits "Farmville", a virtual farming simulation, as "the most popular game on Facebook". Players can create their own farm and plant crops in hopes of achieving healthier fields, bigger buildings, and decorations.
Interest in this genre of fake "farming" started in 1996 with the introduction of the successful Harvest Moon series from Super Nintendo. Even Harvest Moon representatives were surprised by the game's popularity.
"The game consisted of mostly simple, repetitive tasks and a lot of waiting," the representatives said. "For some reason, gamers really wanted to do this."
While the farm animals and vegetables in Farmville are virtual, the money is very real. The most interesting aspect of the feature is the fact that the Farmville application generates a sizeable amount of income.
Players are willing to pay real currency in hopes of improving their farms and advancing in the game. Zynga reported the transactions from Farmville gamers made up a third of their annual income.
The structure of the article is particularly efficient in that it relies heavily on visual graphics to help the reader understand the topic. There's a freeze-frame photo from a typical farm in Farmville below the heading and a pop-out quote mid-feature that offers a better understanding of why people would pay for a product only available in a virtual world.