Saturday, April 30, 2011


LET'S FACE IT: Filipinos love gaming in social networking. It's primarily one of the reasons why Facebook became so popular suddenly in the Philippines (and sealed Friendster's fate forever in cyberhell). In fact, I'd bet that of 10 people reading this post right now, 9 are gamers in Facebook. Whatcha playin'? We played it all, right? We couldn't agree more -- Friends for Sale, Pet Society, FarmTown, YoVille, Farmville, Mafia Wars, Texas Hold 'Em Poker, Cafe World -- we've been there, done that. But one game that's been taking over the gaming world in Facebook is Cityville.

Yes. Since it was launched in December 2010, Cityville skyrocketed in popularity with 100,000 users worldwide in its premiere day and 84.2 million users in just one month. Included in this number are millions of Filipinos who operate and maintain their own community in Cityville. I admit being addicted to Cityville since December last year but for good reasons. Somehow, it's popularity has some societal implications which interested me that's why I kept on playing the game to find out what these implications are.

Cityville allows you to create and supervise your own city like a mayor. You get to be in charge of the means of production such as farms and factories. You get to control trade through trains and shipping. As mayor, you can also decide which business establishments to establish and operate so that you can have continuous source of income for your community. You get to approve new housing units and where they will be built and how they will look like. Of course, are bad characters too. There's the Meowing Marauder and Billy the Bandit; but as mayor, you can take them down by providing security courtesy of the police. You get to keep your city safe and attract visitors and tourists to spend their coins in many of your city's sites and shops. Amazing isn't it? Indeed.

FILIPINOS: Ditching these scenes for Cityville.
Which is contrary to what Filipinos face in their daily lives.

Everyday, Filipinos put up with bad news in the community: rampant crime, high prices of commodities, corruption of government officials, etc. We look around and see the grim reality of the life in our locality -- people living in shanties, crowded schools, squalid surroundings. These are things that are being courageously faced and resolved by a few, brave Filipinos. However, I could say that most of us would like to live a fantasy rather than face the harsh realities of life. That's why after a day's work, we log on to our computer and make ourselves the mayor of our own fantasy world in Cityville. Here, we are our own boss. Here, where strawberries grow in 5 minutes and traffic is almost a myth, we could savor a few ours of good community living and forget about how hard our own lives are. I wonder if this is a good thing? Could it be?

I'd hate to say this being a Cityville gamer myself, but this is the truth. We'd rather spend our time living a fantasy than pour the rest of our day to things bigger than ourselves. In this day and age where we need more active citizens than passive ones, we need to be doing the opposite. For a change, let's keep our hands off the PC and read a storybook to our child about heroes of the past, or pick up the broom and sweep the trash on our sidewalks. How about calling or visiting our neighbors and organizing a potluck on Labor Day? Is it really that hard? I don't think so.

Don't get me wrong -- I'm not forcing everyone to quit playing Cityville. All I'm pointing out here is that it shouldn't be our life. While we waste 12 or 24 hours of our time asking for donuts, harvesting corn or collecting goods, our whole life is passing by behind us. In the end, you may have reached level 80 of Cityville but you'll never reach a higher level in your life being a sociopath, Cityville addict. An hour or a half would be enough. Being a citizen in real life requires even more. TSS

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