“Howdy, partner!” the more-than enthusiastic Tessa exclaimed when I newly entered onto an empty plot of land. She quickly went over the details of my new farming position: I could build, reap, sow, produce, sell… essentially anything I wanted. When I asked her if she could further explain some plot holes, she kept going as if I wasn’t even there! That’s because Tessa, like every character on this farm, is computer simulated. And the “farm” that I’m talking about, is actually not a real farm at all. It’s a computer game.
Computer games typically simulate a world that entices the user to keep playing. Users have full control of what they want to do in that specific world, with a little guidance from the game, of course.
What is common about all computer games, though, is the user’s ability to feel connected. The game somehow becomes a part of them, with many users forming an unhealthy obsession with continuously wanting to play the game. Those who are able to detach themselves from the game, however, may be able to get more out of it than just “fun”.
Take FarmVille, for example. A popular farming game on Facebook which hit its peak around 2013, users were able to simulate farming, much like the game that I played for this post. Similar to BigFarm, FarmVille forced its users to think about aspects of farming such as labor, transactions, and time. Users could immerse themselves in the experience while also learning entrepreneurship and time-management.
So, what’s the big deal about these farming games? Are users really going to go out and attempt to build their own farm?
But what users will be able to take out from these games are important skills that they are able to use in their real-life endeavors. We can hope, too, that by playing these farming games, users will become increasingly conscious of their environment and sustainability.