My girlfriend recently became obsessed with a Facebook game called Farmville, which has become the most popular game Facebook has over the last five months, and by way of strengthening our relationship and indulging her casual nerdiness as she does for my more intense variety, I decided to check it out.
As a gamer I tend to engage primarily with engrossing long-form gaming experiences.
Exceptions to long form games would include puzzle games or games played competitively, and exceptions to "engrossing" games would include RPGs in some cases(FFXII is the worst offender that I'm aware of, although I certainly play RPGs) as well as a new brand of game exemplified by Facebook's Farmville.
Farmville works on a different timetable than most games, it's real-time, but not in the sense of a game like Zelda where an hour takes a minute to pass, it runs on real-world time.
You plant crops that you can only come back and harvest after a day, multiple days, or hours.
It's not a game designed to be played full-time, it's a game designed to draw you back in spurts all throughout the day.
Oddly enough, I am no stranger to the world of simulated farming games, I've played games in the Harvest Moon series for a while, which are designed to be played in a sort of "game real time" with no downtime between accomplishing things.
You have many of the same features as Farmville, you plow fields, raise animals, make investments in seeds, harvest crops, and then re-buy more seeds to increase your capital, while sometimes investing in larger projects like houses.
Farmville takes the farming theme a step further in letting you interact with nearby farms and show off your farms to your friends, while it also leaves out some features in terms of having a secondary system in the game for making friends with people while putting your crops and goods to a secondary purpose as gifts.
Unlike the Harvest Moon games the social aspects of Farmville are largely independent of the core economy of the game.
There's not a significant world to interact with outside your farm, and it also lacks the mechanics used by the Rune Factory spinoffs which introduce crafting and combat to the world to provide a further purpose for all the money raised and goods produced.