On Facebook, the online farming game FarmVille has millions planting, rotating crops, and raising livestock without the cleanup or the smell.
Even while calling Chicago home, Laura Hawkins Grimes is a country bumpkin. Her scenic rural spread has three dairy farms, two ponds and a log cabin, all skirted by a white picket fence as scarecrows stand sentry over her blackberries.
And the best part is the 40-year-old sex therapist never has to leave her computer to tend to it all.
She's one of tens of millions of occupants of FarmVille, a near-utopian, wildly popular online fantasy game where folks rush to another neighbor's aid, ribbons readily come as rewards, plants don't get diseased, and there's never a calamitous frost, flood, or drought.
Since its launch last summer, the cartoonish simulation game has become a Facebook phenomenon, luring in everyone from urbanites like Grimes to actual farmers while gently nudging people to think more about where their food comes from.
"It's kind of what you don't see every day," Ms. Grimes says of FarmVille by Zynga, a San Francisco-based developer of games widely played at online hangouts such as Facebook. "I have to say, living in Chicago, what appeals to me about FarmVille is it's not urban."
FarmVille — with more than 72 million monthly users worldwide, the most talked-about application in Facebook status updates — heads a growing stable of simulated agriculture that also includes SlashKey's Farm Town on Facebook and PlayMesh's recently launched iFarm for the iPhone.
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