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Addiction to Farmville can get you fired

farmville2I never understood the fascination to this Facebook application… a game called Farmville. Certain members of my family play it and some of my co-workers indulge in it. Most of the Facebook status updates or newsfeeds I see over my network involve someone looking for something or finding something in Farmville, and would like to share it with me. For example, “Christina was farming when she found a Wandering Stallion! Christina wants her friends to help the Wandering Stallion by giving him shelter for the night“.

The premise of the game is that you are a virtual farmer with your own plot of land. Your job is to cultivate it and rear animals. You get points depending on how successful you are, and the aim is to get the highest score you can. The game is free to play, but if you want to buy extra points to keep up your farm, you are given the option to buy more with your credit card.

I may be the wrong person to write this post, since I am not a fan of Farmville or any other Internet-based game for that matter. I hated board game nights in my youth, and have nightmares about Monopoly (it’s a long story).

However, it was interesting to read in several media outlets recently that a politician in Bulgaria, Dimitar Kerin, was removed from a city council committee because of sinking excessive amounts of time into Farmville during meetings, instead of paying attention, including to the 2010 budget meeting. Note that several other councillors participated in milking virtual cows on Farmville with Dimitar; however, after several stern warnings, councillor Kerin persisted and refused to stop playing Farmville during council meetings.

He was removed from his committee with 20 votes in favour and 19 votes against; the reason provided was that the councillor “needs more time for his virtual farm”. As a result, he has lost the additional pay he received as a member of a municipal committee.

According to the press, councillor Kerin defended himself by saying he was not the only one in City Hall watering virtual eggplants. He said he had reached only Level 40, whereas Daniela Zhelyazkova, a councillor from another party, was already at Level 46.

Reported conclusion: Farmville can be addictive! Time management is a crucial part of playing Farmville and players need to bring in their crops the second they’re ready or risk a failed harvest; even if it is during council meeting.


Suffice it to say, there comes a point when social media activities by employees during work hours become grounds for discipline, and at some point termination. Make sure your policy manual covers such activities. However, what I am wondering is: will this be a new addiction that will need to be accommodated under provincial or territorial human rights legislation? (Joke!)

Hey, there is already a website called Gameolosophy to help people control their Facebook game addiction and provides advice how to gradually stop from virtually farming instead of going cold turkey.

Oh boy!

Yosie Saint-Cyr
First Reference Human Resources and Compliance Managing Editor

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Yosie Saint-Cyr, LL.B. Managing Editor

Managing Editor at First Reference Inc.
Yosie Saint-Cyr, LL.B., is a trained lawyer called to the Quebec bar in 1988 and is still a member in good standing. She practiced business, employment and labour law until 1999. For over 18 years, Yosie has been the Managing Editor of the following publications, Human Resources Advisor, Human Resources PolicyPro, HRinfodesk and Accessibility Standards PolicyPro from First Reference. Yosie is one of Canada’s best known and most respected HR authors, with an extensive background in employment and labour across the country. Read more
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