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ESPNU CollegeTown: FarmVille As Propaganda For College Sports

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Lord knows you've seen the commercials for ESPNU's CollegeTown Facebook game, as the Lord also knows you're a dedicated college football fan. It's a simple game modeled on FarmVille's stupefying success, and feels less abstract since the modern Facebook user knows nothing about farms and a thing or two about college and sports.

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So far so good, as CollegeTown is the fastest-growing Facebook game, gaining over a million users in the past week. The game's mechanics are the same as FarmVille's: click on stuff at recurring intervals and earn more and bigger things to click more frequently. The goal is to build up a tiny college into a huge university, including academic buildings, dorms, and stadiums. Mainly stadiums.

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You can also decorate your campus with real-life facilities from Alabama, Ohio State, and so forth, including UGA's arch and some fake Georgia Tech stuff like a giant Buzz statue and a sorority building*. You can even put an engineering school on Georgia's campus, though I don't know who would ever come up with a reason for attempting that*.

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While you can make nickels and dimes through enrollment and businesses, the only real way to make worthwhile money in CollegeTown is to keep stadiums cranking out sporting events. Gaining students is the key to adding more stadiums, while you need to improve your academics to gain students -- which you can't afford to do unless you focus on sports. Thus, the only purpose of academics in CollegeTown is to build bigger stadiums, and academics only exist in the first place because of sports. This game is branded and advertised by ESPN, you say? 

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I couldn't get into FarmVille, though I know plenty of adults with jobs and kids who did. CollegeTown is pretty fun for a minute or two a day, but I can't imagine it having much to offer once I max out my football stadium. This isn't quite SimCity.

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* FAIR AND BALANCED.

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Photographs by coka_koehler used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.