I’ve been thinking about time invested in an activity and implied value. If we spend a substantial amount of time on an activity, does it seem like a valuable thing to have done? Do we need a way to justify the time spent or does the activity actually have value?
There are a series of games in the simulation genre; Train Simulator, Helicopter Pilot Simulator, European Truck Driver Simulator, that seem to test this theory. When I worked in gaming retail they’d always be there. Yearly editions and expansion packs seeming to endlessly filter in, yet I don’t know that I ever sold one copy. I’d often wonder who was playing these games and what the appeal was.
Having now played one, Farming Simulator 2017, I can tell you that I still have no idea.
I like simulation games. The Sims lets me don the hat of interior decorator and social manipulator. Animal Crossing had me befriend quirky characters, Harvest Moon saw my brain’s reward centre light up as I satisfyingly harvested my lovingly grown crops and milked my cows so they’d moo happily at me.
Farming Simulator 2017 saw me spend an hour harvesting a single field of wheat and almost crying out of frustration and boredom. An hour in real time spent laboriously slugging this truck through a field at 9mph. It wasn’t fun, it wasn’t engaging, I didn’t have a strong motive to want to continue. The purpose in this game is to earn money and run a sustainable farm, but if I wanted to do something laborious and mind numbing to earn money I’d rather just get out there and do it in real life!
This leads me back to my questions of why, and who? The farming life is not a realistic or accessible option for everyone. As an inner-city dweller I can appreciate the desire for open fields, working towards sustainability and living off of the land. Maybe some will find the monotony of this game calming, knowing exactly what’s expected of them.
Farming Simulator 2017 taught me that to enjoy a simulation game I need a social or story-driven aspect. Something to keep me engaged and able to justify why I’d just spent eight hours riding my horse between towns, to grow the right crops, to make a tea for a man, so he’d give me a new pickaxe, so I could mine a jewel to impress that cutie at the flower shop, so we could get married and have babies and be happy and adorable.
… I’m going to go put my DS on to charge.
Farming Simulator 2017 was played using a promotional disc, provided to PowerUp! by the publisher.