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IMG00152Do you get bored when working at the computer or do you fill all your time with a million different activities? If you get bored often, you may want to consider an “idle time game”. What constitutes an idle time game and what are the top idle time games on Facebook?

An idle time game is what it says. It’s a game you play in your idle time. The beauty of idle time games is that they are designed to provide you with some down time away from the game too. Certain components require specific time frames to complete with no interaction from you, thus leaving you time to go back to doing other stuff.

When you have a break from email, work, and checking out all the other MakeUseOf tips, programs and websites, log in to Facebook, click “Applications“, and check out the top five most popular idle time Facebook games.

On top of the list is FarmVille, by Zynga, with nearly 60 million “active monthly users”.

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A similar game by Slashkey, called Farm Town, ranks fifth, with nearly 18 million users.

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These two top Facebook games are very similar, allowing me to kill two digitally rendered, unreal virtual birds with one stone.


Both games provide a chunk of cyberspace upon which to grow “crops”. You’re a farmer (customizable avatar) with a small farm and a few coins to buy seeds with. You plant crops, which have varying times to maturity, and wait for them to grow. Later, you come back and harvest them to earn coins. You then plow the land to prepare for more crops. Harvesting and plowing earn you experience points which help you “level up”.

Barns, pathways, water features, and fences are just a sample of the items available for purchase with your earnings to personalize your farm. As you progress in levels the items you can buy get more enticing and more profitable seeds are available. You can also increase your farm’s size.

There are a few differences in the two games which may determine which you prefer. Take both for a test drive and decide for yourself. You might get addicted to both, like me. Farm Town allows you to earn coins and experience by helping other farmers who aren’t your neighbors and includes chat features. Both games have animals you can purchase, but only FarmVille allows the animals to be “harvested”. Cows give milk, sheep give wool, and so on.

Mafia Wars, another Zynga game, boasts 26 million users. If you’re in the mood for stealing, robbing, or icing someone in cyberspace this may be your game. It’s a dashboard-only game, meaning you do not have an avatar or a character to move around. If you want to do a job, you click a button, and the results are displayed. Many other idle time games are designed this way, and as someone used to Grand Theft Auto action, I personally don’t enjoy this type of game.

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You earn money for doing jobs which include robbing a pimp, collecting on a loan, and other mafioso tasks. You recruit friends to be part of your mafia, and you can fight other people’s mafias. Websites outside of Mafia Wars have popped up where you recruit people other than your friends to be in your Mafia. The more members you have, the more successful you are. You can purchase items, and you level up by building experience with jobs and fights.

Energy, stamina, and health are important, as jobs require varying levels of these traits to perform. This is where the game invokes idle time. Once your resources are depleted, a clock is displayed and you have to wait it out until they begin being refilled.

Pet Society by Playfish is a cute game that seems to be designed for the younger crowd, yet it claims fourth place with 19 million users. This game allows you to have a customizable pet that interacts with the environment. The pet has a home and a community to explore. The community includes a home improvement center, a cafe, and a grocery store, among others. You can decorate your home, play with your pet, and feed your pet.

This game has a mini-Sims like feel as it has three status bars you try to keep maxed out to ensure your pet is healthy, happy and clean. The feel is cartoon-like, but it’s is a relatively simple and safe game for children if you allow them to use the computer during your idle time.

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Similar to Pet Society, YoVille is an interactive community with people-based avatars, but this game includes chat features. You work at a “job” to earn coins. You can only work so often and at specific intervals, thus the idle time feature. Your character is given an apartment to live in and you recruit your Facebook friends to be your neighbors and coworkers.

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All of these games share common traits. You earn coins and experience to purchase cooler items and to level up. They encourage your friends to play as well, as some features can’t be unlocked unless you have a certain number of neighbors, co-workers or mafia members.

Each has a gifting feature where you can choose a gift to send to your friends or neighbors. The gifts are items they could eventually buy within the games, but they may not be at the level where the gift is unlocked. If you just don’t want to wait on a harvest or a job, you can use real money to purchase game money. However, all games are free to play.

Most of the games are beta, so you may have some connection issue or other issues from time to time. The biggest drawback to these games is their addictive nature, turning them from “idle time” to “all the time”.

Which Facebook game takes up all your time?   Let us know all about it in the comments.

  1. Garan
    February 11, 2010 at 1:04 am

    Yeah, these are some pretty addictive little mindless clickers; Ya know I played these games for a while- Even temporarily wrecked my profile temporarily by adding tons of people who I didn't know just to be in my "Mob"....

    Then I found a REAL game called League of Heroes, on Myspace and Facebook. It's actually got a whole community, a mostly PVP-based superhero game. You can make your profile exactly how you want it with it too, incredible customization- not just goofy avatars... I'll never add another stranger to my profile to be 'more powerful' again:-).... Far as apps go, I'd give it a good solid 8; I hear they're even coming out with a sequel, which will fix some of the issues in the last one. DON'T FALL VICTIM TO FARMVILLE PEOPLE!

  2. GamesForMyWebsite
    November 13, 2009 at 1:10 pm

    I am a gamer and I like playing Poker on Facebook. I want to share to you guys the site where you can have your own games attached to your website. So you can put all your favorite games on your page and gain more visitors. Who knows if you gain lots of the visitors might donate to your website. It's at Your Kids Club site.

  3. ZamGal
    October 31, 2009 at 7:34 pm

    Bejeweled totally deserves to be on this list. It's a true time-sucker.

    I've played the farm games (and agree that Farm Town is better than the 'Ville version), but they got boring after awhile. I do find Mafia Wars entertaining, but it's not something you can just play and play and play (for hours on end, if that's what your little heart desires).

    Mousehunt and Myth Monger are good games, too. And I'm a little embarrassed to admit my recent addiction to Cafe World.

  4. Trinae Ross
    October 30, 2009 at 2:41 pm

    Castle Age beats Mafia Wars hands down. Through Alchemy, players can summon dragons to fight with their friends. The rewards are awesome!

    • Garan
      February 11, 2010 at 1:29 am

      Yeah, that one is pretty cool- I hate when games mess up the investment incomes though.... If you concentrate on properties, you get so rich you can't possibly use up your money buying items in the game.

  5. RougeCrown
    October 30, 2009 at 1:49 pm

    Haha i thought the craze was all about mousehunt :P

    Playfish has some really good games on facebook though :D

    • Garan
      February 11, 2010 at 1:34 am

      Entercast has a few cool ones too; "League of Heroes" & "Chronicles of the Fallen".

      This article throw up a suspicious amount of accentuation on Zynga, but there's a lot of companies making good games out there, and are definitely worth the 'Idle Time' to check out:).

  6. Mel
    October 30, 2009 at 12:45 pm

    What is the bias towards Zynga games. Farmtown is more fun than Farmville and there is a crowd, like me, playing mobsters2 vendetta instead of the mafia wars which gets no mention. Wondering if this is a "payola" post in some form from Zynga games.

    • Paul
      October 30, 2009 at 1:25 pm

      I appreciate your concern and comments. Like you, I personally enjoy Farm Town more than FarmVille (look at the screenshots - I was level 14 on FarmVille and level 27 on Farm Town at the time of writing), and as I mentioned in the post, I don't enjoy Mafia Wars that much since it is a dashboard style game.

      This was not a "payola post"; I simply went to Facebook's application site, clicked on the Facebook approved games and these five were the top five based on the number of active monthly users. It just so happens that three of the five are zynga games.

      • Garan
        February 11, 2010 at 1:12 am

        That's because Zynga's the cheesiest company out there.

        That one Mafia Wars dashboard style game? Re-made by them into around 10 different clones- Schemed up as fashion wars, dog wars, gang wars, sorority wars, car wars, you name it.... All in the same mindlessly-clicky style. They didn't get 3 games in the top 5 because they made the best games- They just overloaded the platform, so that's all people found in the beginning.

  7. Mark
    October 30, 2009 at 12:03 pm

    I'm getting really tired of logging into Facebook and seeing a bunch of this crap. I'm sorry if I offend anyone, but I just get annoyed with it.

    • Paul
      October 30, 2009 at 1:29 pm

      No offense taken here, Mark. While it's relatively easy to block and choose applications for Facebook, including games, it can get annoying when your news feed is 80% about your friends' gaming activities. I don't really need to know that my second cousin just found a cow on his farm.

  8. Dorf
    October 30, 2009 at 11:55 am

    I used to play the game called Gangster Battle but after being ripped off three times I quit. They advertised giving you Don Points to use in the game if you signed up for Netflix and other offers. I spent over $50 on the various deals but never got a single Don point for it. They claimed they had no record of my completing the offer although I sent them the confirmation e-mail. These RIP OFFS are what drove me a number of others away from the games on Facebook. Facebook has yet to respond to my numerous complaints and I have given up on dealing with the companies that pull these scams and zynga. They have my money so what do they care?

    • Paul
      October 30, 2009 at 1:35 pm

      I'm sorry you got ripped off three times. Many of the games do allow you to "complete offers" or spend real money to earn extra game "money" if you want. None of the games I mentioned in the article require you to do that - they can be played for free.

      • Garan
        February 11, 2010 at 1:22 am

        That's beside the point. ALL of these games are free, but there are most definitely features there, which are designed to make money. There are people dropping THOUSANDS of dollars into these games, I hope you realize....

        Whether or not a company stands behind their product(digital or not), is not something to ignore.

        What if Compaq gave out free mousepads, but told you to go sit on your thumb when the computer crashes?

  9. karamel
    October 30, 2009 at 3:32 am

    have you tried brain buddies? i think that one was addicting :)

    • Paul
      October 30, 2009 at 1:30 pm

      Not yet. Sounds like something to check out this weekend.

  10. Alessandro
    October 29, 2009 at 5:53 pm

    hi! --->brain buddies..yah!

  11. V.C
    October 29, 2009 at 5:30 pm

    I actually don't play any game on Facebook.
    In my opinion, game is fun but wastes time and also drives you crazy

  12. V.C
    October 29, 2009 at 5:27 pm

    I actually don't play any game on Facebook.
    It wastes time and drives you crazy, I think.

    • Monica Dickey
      October 30, 2009 at 1:42 pm

      Lost too many friends to farmville... I have resolved never to play it ever. I don't play any facebook games, but especially not farmville. lol :P

      Some of my friends at work play it on every break, and my friend's mom plays it like 2 hours a night... It's crazy!

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