Farming will never be all fun and games right? Except in the parallel universe of online gaming. If you’ve ever wondered why the masses are so addicted, let gamer Gareth Davies give you a glimpse into Minecraft: a blocky adventure into creativity and agriculture.
Video games can be a great escape and you can do it from your own home in your pajamas, whether you are a console gamer or part of the PC “elite”. There is an almost unlimited collection of games that can transport you to a whole new world – from the high-octane rush of Call of Duty Warzone to the relaxed routine of Animal Crossing: New Horizons. There is something for everyone.
But what about games about farming? Well, you are in luck! Never has there been such a diverse charcuterie board of farming games to choose from.
Video games about agriculture, or that include farming activities, have been on the rise in recent years. Some games focus completely on farming – start, harvest crops or livestock, sell, repeat – while others include a farming component in a greater narrative. Some include farming in both the traditional and in a gaming sense.
Let me explain: When a hardcore gamer refers to farming, they mean using the game’s mechanics to exploit it for resources. And with that, we hop in the blocky world of Minecraft.
Farming, but with a twist
Minecraft (developed by Mojang Studios) is a game where creativity knows no bounds. It is a space where you can truly express your creative instincts.
It’s also a game full of farming. The premise of the game? You are dropped into a world where everything is represented as 1m X 1m blocks (the soil, precious metals and even honey). You are basically told nothing.
Before you is literally an infinite expanse of varying biomes, everyday animals like chickens, cows, sheep and bees, small villages occupied by villagers and the odd temple filled with loot. The catch is that once the sun sets, the idyllic wilderness becomes infested in hostile creatures out to get you, so you will need to find shelter, create a light source and get food.
Your average player will dig a hole in the ground and sleep there for the night, but the more ambitious among us, myself included, will try to make tools and build a house before dark.
This is where experimentation and creativity come into play. You punch a tree for wood, craft the wood into planks, craft some sticks and then finally you craft your first pickaxe. Now the world is truly your oyster. With tools you can mine down into the earth in search of iron ore and if you are tenacious, you might find the rarest mineral in the overworld, diamonds!
But where does farming come into this?
Glad you asked.
To get food, you will need to use those resources you mined to craft a hoe and till the soil to plant seeds. Then you will need to dig trenches to irrigate your crops so they will grow. Maybe you will build a fence around your crops to keep the hostile Mobs (uhm, it’s a Minecraft thing) from trampling your soon-to-be golden wheat field.
Perhaps you stumble across some bones that you craft into bone meal to fertilise your crops so they grow even faster. And after all this work, all the crafting, all the careful defending of your crops, you can finally harvest your wheat and make a loaf of bread. Now that you have food, it is time to expand.
Keep going, keep growing
An important part of Minecraft is setting goals for yourself. It is a game without any real limits so to keep yourself motivated, you will need projects. Some focus on building their house or exploring; I focus on farming.
I share a server with a couple of friends from all over the world and I have created a compound where I provide all the resources they will need using expansive and intricate farms that make use of the mechanics provided by the game.
I don’t even have to harvest my wheat by hand anymore. I have employed a local villager to be a farmer on my chunk of land and they will tend to my crops while I expand further and create more and more farms.
Minecraft, on the surface, is a simple-looking game that you think would be aimed at the younger crowd, but if you use the tools and mechanics that it provides, you will find yourself creating an empire of farms, villages, machines and mines.
Admittedly gamers and real-world farmers will never compare, but there’s no denying that the job has people glued to their screens.
Minecraft is available on Windows PC, Mac, PlayStation 4, Xbox, Nintendo Switch, Apple and Android devices.
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