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Virtual Farm Games Absorb Real Money, Real Lives

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We Farm virtual farm game

Ngmoco's "We Farm" virtual farm game for the iPad.

Josh Lowensohn / CNET

Last century's cash crops included tobacco, cotton, and sugar cane. Now we have magic cauliflower and super berries, too—and even though they can't be sold at market, some people still toil from dawn to dusk cultivating them.

People spend not just real time but also real money growing these crops in virtual farming games that combine the allure of both games and social networking in what is usually a cute and deceptively simple package. They can be addictive: many users come back at least once a day to micromanage their famrs and deal with other users' requests.

On average, the users of these types of games are spending anywhere from a few minutes a game to the greater part of an hour. Indeed, one individual who CNET spoke with said that it's all she does between waking up and going to bed—and that's every every day of the week.

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