It’s time for gardeners to get ready for a new year and a new season, and though it may seem surprising, a collection of recent video games offer the chance to learn real-life fruit, veg and flower-growing skills and experience a taste of gardening’s benefits in return. In the third of our four-part series, we look at the dreamlike “Gardenarium”, offworld vivarium “Earthtongue”, friendly campsite jaunt “Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp”, sci-fi education “Tyto Online”, and agricultural-scale “Farming Simulator”.
Farming Simulator 17/18
Agriculture, industry and commerce meet in this ongoing franchise of farm sims, with new crops and even an outsourcing mechanism added in “Farming Simulator 17” and additional tractors and equipment added via updates to the Android and iOS editions of “Farming Simulator 18”. Available as “Farming Simulator 17” on PC, Mac, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One; “Farming Simulator 18” on iOS, Android, Nintendo 3DS and PlayStation Vita.
Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp
While Nintendo’s social camp site getaway has more of a focus on making friends and accommodating neighbors’ idiosyncratic likes and dislikes, there’s room for fishing trips, butterfly-catching excursions, and a bit of garden cultivation. Available on iOS and Android.
Take that horticultural curiosity and apply it to a strange alien landscape, in which rain is bulging with nutrients, sustaining the fungi and insect life upon the sunless planet’s surface, a veritable vivarium for the involved or a self-propagating eco-system for observers. Available on PC and Mac.
Join the offworld Tyto Academy on the planet Ovo, where real science concepts underpin the alien ecosystem’s growth, with seedling growth, cross-pollination, heredity, genetics, and discussion skills part of the explorative process. A minimal subscription of around $5 is expected once “Tyto Online” launches from its Early Access state. Available for PC, with a schools edition optional.
As if within the weird and wonderful dream of a garden itself, the player strolls around as a caretaker of sorts, watching as the surrounding plants respond to their presence, before the game reveals a more structured, but perhaps no less mysterious, following act. Available on PC, Mac and Linux. JB