Betting the Farm: FarmVille Soars in Popularity

Players tend virtual animals, crops and support neighbors' holdings.

ByABC News via logo
May 10, 2010, 7:04 PM

Sept. 6, 2010— -- When farming met Facebook, the result was FarmVille, the wildly popular social networking game that's being played by a whopping 80 million people each month.

What's more, the majority of the game's players are 40-something women. That flies in the face of convention, which says so-called gamers tend to be younger men. In fact, since its launch in June, FarmVille has turned those norms on its ear.

It started out as a game for teenagers, but today it's played by moms, dads, grandparents, younger children, retirees, professionals, and others of diverse ages and backgrounds.

The game revolves around the tending of a virtual farm -- complete with crops, animals and farming equipment. For 49-year-old Maria Graziano, it is becoming an obsession.

"My husband just walks past me and says 'you have got to be kidding. You are on FarmVille again?'" the mother of two told "Good Morning America."

Her love affair with the game started innocently enough. Her son wanted a Facebook account, but Graziano told him he wasn't old enough. So he asked her if he could use her account to play FarmVille.

"He lost interest pretty quickly, and I took over," she said.

Graziano, a part-time fashion buyer from Huntington, N.Y., says she checks her farm twice a day. But her daughter, Katelyn, disputed that claim.

"Definitely more than three times a day," Graziano's daughter said. "I would say, like, five. I know she will go on it first when I get home. Then she will be like, 'Katelyn, wait, can you get off for a second so I can go on?'"

Graziano represents a growing demographic. The average social gamer is not the stereotyped young male, huddled in the basement, absorbed in a role-playing game. Instead, the average social gamer is now a 43-year-old woman, according to PopCap Games, a online gaming company.

For some, the love of gaming has gone past obsession and verged upon addiction.