ICT-KM of the CGIAR

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On-line farming ….a look to the East

After our post on FarmVille, Duncan a colleague from IRRI, The International Rice Research Institute, shared with me an article published in an Asia online magazine “All About…Happy Farm” .

The article says farming games are China’s latest online craze, racking up tens of millions of users who seek ways to escape city life. And the names say it all – Incarnations of the game include Sunshine Farm, Happy Farmer, Happy Fishpond and Happy Pig Farm. Building upon Happy Farm’s success the launch of Happy Garden has recently been announced.

“Netizens”. the citizens of the net,  reportedly spend a lot of their time in work to plant, sow, water, fertilise, harvest…they can sell but also steal from their neighbors.  Apparently this craze is disrupting workplace productivity.

happy-farm-fired-worker

“I heard it was because he stole the boss’s crops.

That’s bad news for the workplace and by extension for the reputation of ‘social media” as this would confirm its detractors ‘s claim of : “You see…. I told you free internet access to staff means they work less”…

I personally do not agree with that… being a staunch believer that free access to the internet is an opportunity to share ideas, to get inspired, to confront ideas….yes, some may take advantage of it, but those are the same who would skirt work anyway using more traditional methods of absenteeism,  long coffee breaks, but that’s another story…. let’s get back to the “on-line gaming and agriculture” issue.

Sheer numbers: The new online games claim 2 million new users a day in China – that is A LOT of users.  Is there a way this fad can be tapped into?

Who plays? This craze started in the workplace, Happy Farm was initially more popular with the 25- to 30-year-old, white-collar “urbanites” on social networks, but tales of workers being fired for playing it have moved the games to the household. The average player is now school-aged. That is a good age to sensitize, to learn about practices, about the value of agriculture.

Some think that we cannot expect the Happy Farm craze to last forever, and it will make space to a new one next year.

Whether Happy Farm, FarmVille, SimFarm… I think we can safely assume online gaming is going to stay – so why not take advantage of innovation in technologies and social trends to promote good practices in agriculture?

Photos courtesy: ChinaSmack.com