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Which is better, Farmville, Facebook or Farmville, Va.

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ART BY SIDNEY MULLIS AND STEPHANIE BOSCOVITCH
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Date published: 1/22/2010

LONG BEFORE Facebook made "FarmVille" a familiar destination for teens, there was the town of Farmville, Va., founded in 1798 and a destination for many local college students.

Here is a comparative look at the two:


BY STEPHANIE BOSCOVITCH

Welcome to Farmville, Va., a spot on the map that can't be overlooked. Home to the Longwood Lancers and Hampden-Sydney Tigers, it is filled with young people, but still has that authentic, old-fashioned touch.

Similar to the Facebook "FarmVille," Farmville, Va., has many animals, crops and people, who look as though they may enjoy farming. There are plenty of rolling hills, fields and trees, which give the town a closed-in, nature-like feel.

However, different from "FarmVille," Farmville, Va., has an inner town that encompasses Longwood University, filled with fun for all ages.

As a visitor to Farmville, one can enjoy the many little shops and restaurants that dot the town. There are grocery stores--like Kroger, for example--and antiques shops.

Fudge shops, hair salons, clothing boutiques and coffee shops line the main street--basically, lots of attractions to partake in while enjoying the fresh air and beautiful surroundings.

Around the town, one can also enjoy movies at the drive-in theater by bringing chairs, blankets and popcorn. And from May to October, the town hosts a First Fridays event, much like the art walk seen in Fredericksburg.

One thing really different about the town is its low population compared to "FarmVille" on Facebook. Only 6,845 people inhabit the Farmville, Va. area today, according to the town's official Web site.

Farmville, Va., may be smaller than "FarmVille" on Facebook, but when it comes to bringing in college-age adults, providing entertainment and still keeping up with the farms, the two really go hand in hand.

Stephanie Boscovitch is a senior at Riverbend High School.

BY PETER BRIG

Welcome to "FarmVille"! As a player in one of Facebook's most successful applications, you'll be joining 73 million other players looking to try your hand as a humble farmer.

"FarmVille" won the 2009 Crunchie Award for "best social app" from the blog Tech Crunch. For a social application, "FarmVille" has certainly gone far in helping connect people thousands of miles away.

Players cultivate their own virtual farms while exchanging gifts with neighbors and even helping others take care of their farms.

Upon joining the "FarmVille" community, one must create an avatar. These avatars are highly customizable, having numerous different skin palettes, hairstyles and facial features. The variation in styles is great enough that avatars may at least vaguely resemble their players in appearance. Each avatar is, however, is limited to the same apparel that every other player is stuck wearing: overalls.

After creating an avatar, players begin the process of building their farm. At the onset, players will have a measly plot, on which there are a few crops already planted. The object then becomes to sell these crops and to keep expanding one's wealth.

By constantly planting and selling crops, players will gain experience. Experience points contribute to the player's level, which roughly corresponds to the player's work ethic, success and coins. Both experience and coins are used to determine what a player can purchase in the game.

While growing crops may be the most important aspect of the game, there are several other things to which farmland can be dedicated. Animals can be purchased or adopted with the help of neighbors, and can be placed on the farm, usually offering a small monetary bonus, such as when a pig has found truffles after a number of days. Various trees are also available and provide some sort of product every few days.

If someone's farm is looking a little bland, he can turn to a whole section of the "FarmVille" market that is dedicated to ornamentation. The store offers everything from holiday-related decor to country flags and topiaries. A large portion of a player's money usually goes into the beautification of his farm, as people often try to make their farms as ostentatious as possible.

Peter Brig is a student at Germanna Community College.