Although I grew up in a relatively rural area, I did not know a lot about farming. Oh yes, I did know how a cow looked like (and a pig) - but I did not know then there are different races of both cows and pigs. Also, I saw trees around but could not tell whether they were oak, chestnut or whatever. The only difference I knew was between the trees in our neigborhood and those in the mountains (they were fir trees).
By discovering and playing Farmville, I've educated myself a lot in this aspect. Now I know how different trees look like and I can name them. Same goes for the different races of cows, pigs and horses. Sometimes I buy or get animals I hadn't even heard of!
And the best thing of it, farming on the internet doesn't need physical labor!!! Now there are people who are addicted to Farmville, who'd play it all through the day and set their alarm at night when a certain lot needs harvesting.
I'm not such an addict. Yes, I admit I love playing the game, but I can leave it when necessary. When I travel I don't play on the computer. I don't carry a laptop or tablet along when I'm in another country. I'll only check my mail, and only reply to it when it can't wait. That I do on my phone. So when I know I'm going to be absent for a while, I just plow my fields and leave them be. They won't go away, right?
Heck, I wished I'd come up with this idea! I'm sure those guys of Zynga must be millionaires by now. Although... I have a friend who invented a soccer game for the pc, and he can only sell the occasional one or two of them in a month. Probably not everyone likes soccer!
I can't explain why Farmville is so popular. Farming is not the thing for young people, as most farms are sold away in my country. Hard work doesn't appeal anymore. Is it because the game can be played on Facebook? If anyone knows, please tell me so.