Dear Folks at Zynga,
I greatly enjoy your Facebook games, and spend a great deal of my time playing them. However, for some time I have been meaning to raise an issue that I first noticed playing Farmville. I had gotten away from “-ville” type games for a few years and had been focusing on playing more “traditional” games. Recently, I started playing “the Ville,” which I greatly enjoy. However, I noticed early in the game that there was a certain bias in the decorations available (same as I had previously noted in Farmville, which was one of the reasons I stopped playing Farmville a few years ago). Even though, worldwide, 40% of the population is Christian, and 80% of the US population (still the vast majority of Internet users) profess some form of Judeo-Christian faith. Including Muslims, the vast majority of the world’s population are of Abrahamic faiths.
Yet in “The Ville,” and similar Facebook games, the options for home decoration are decided non-Christian. It would be one thing if they were purely secular–as for example many Protestants are iconoclastic.
However, there are very clearly New Age, neo-pagan, Buddhist, Hindu and Taoist elements in the game, including the “Yin Yang” collectible power up feature that is required to complete some tasks. As I have progressed in the game, I have discovered many game tasks which require having my character participate in New Age or neo-Pagan activities. At first, I kind of overlooked the form of “spirituality” promoted by the “Sophie” character, and I overlooked the “flower power” features because I saw the “Flower Power Bed” as symbolic of the kind of brightly colored furniture I might have in a children’s room in my own hypothetical “dream house.” Now, I have come across the “Enchanted Forest” task that requires me to have a “Zen Garden.” Various tasks have required purchasing statues, wall decorations, paintings, etc., and while there are plenty of options representing pagan or far Eastern religious symbols, there are no options representing, minimally, Jesus, crosses or biblical events that are common to the cultures of at least 60% of the world and 80% of the United States.
I am really quite surprised that more people have not raised an issue of this. The more of these game tasks come up, the more I feel like I am violating my conscience to even play your games. The main reason I have not quit is that I have been hopeful maybe you’re just not aware that this is a problem for many of your customers, and I wanted to see if, upon being informed of this issue, you would be willing to make these non-Abrahamic elements optional as well as provide alternatives at least common to people of Abrahamic faiths, if not provide specific options for Jewish, Christian and Muslim players to incorporate their particular faith elements into their home decor.
Thank you for taking the time to consider my request.