Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Interview with a Farmer

Guitar Hero and Rock Band became two of the most popular video game experiences in America despite nay-saying from professional musicians like Keith Urban and John Mayer. During its rise to market dominance, Mayer mocked Guitar Hero at every turn, calling it "driving one of those amusement-park cars on a track" as opposed to driving a Ferrari.

People often have trouble accepting video game versions their passions. And it's no different with Zynga Games' latest sensation, FarmVille.

When I called R.T. Choke, a local farm supply store owner, to set up an interview about FarmVille I could tell he was disgruntled — but I didn't realize how upset he was until I showed up at his store.

I was greeted at the front door with the following signs:

The following is the transcript of our conversation:

Schilbo: Thank you for meeting with me, Mr. Choke.

R.T. Choke: It's fine, it's not like I have anything better to do besides answer questions about damn topiaries.

Schilbo: So, judging by the signs on your door, FarmVille has really changed the way people shop for farm supplies.

R.T. Choke: You think? Yesterday somebody called to ask me if I had any fully-grown blueberries for sale and when I told him no, he said he'd call back in four hours. What a damn moron.

Schilbo: Oh, because FarmVille blueberries are ready in four hours?

R.T. Choke: I don't know about that. All I know is I've been making a good living selling farm supplies, I've had a lot of happy customers, and now people want cows that produce flavored milk and cats that produce yarn and pigs that produce truffles. Truffles! You know what I say to that? I say, Lady, you know what a pig produces? Bacon. Delicious bacon and delicious sausage.

Schilbo: Yikes.

R.T. Choke: And what about all this other bullshit? Halloween decorations! Gravestones with real ghosts and light-up jack-o-lanterns and man-eating pumpkin plants? And then there was apparently hot air balloons with black sheep inside. NO, I DON'T KNOW HOW TO GET YOUR SHEEP OUT OF YOUR BALLOON. God only knows what kind of crap people are going to be wanting over Christmas. Red and green bales of hay, Christmas trees that grow in 90 minutes.

Schilbo: Ohhhkay. So, has FarmVille helped you out financially?

R.T. Choke: Hell no. It's basic supply and demand. Look at this chart:

Everybody on damn FarmVille buys up all the strawberries and drives up the price and you know what's going to happen when ACTUAL strawberry season gets here?

Schilbo: No.

R.T. Choke: Well, I'll tell you. Strawberry plants are going to cost an arm and a leg. AN ARM AND A LEG.

Schilbo: That will be tough for you, huh? Since you only accept cash and credit cards.

R.T. Choke: Oh, you're a wise-ass, are you?

Schilbo: Well, I...

R.T. Choke: And let me guess, you're a damn FarmVille farmer, aren't you?

Schilbo: Yeah. I mean, I'm pretty good. I—

R.T. Choke: Get out of my store!

Schilbo: I'm sorry?


Schilbo: OK, but —

R.T. Choke: OUT!

I was sorry to see that local farmers aren't embracing the FarmVille phenomenon, but it turned out OK that Mr. Choke kicked me out of his farm supply store. I needed to get home anyway. I've got a million blackberries to go to achieve full mastery, and those things aren't going to harvest themselves.

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