THOSE behind the newly released agriculture computer game, Farming Simulator 19, have made an impact in the real world of agriculture by assisting with drought relief.
Farming Simulator 19 gives players the opportunity to operate their own farm in intricate detail, from purchasing tractors and implements, through to analysing commodity prices to target the most profit.
Previous versions of the game have proven hugely popular, as is FS19 having sold more than one million copies in the first 10 days of release.
The game's Australian distributor, Five Star Games, along with its publisher, Focus Home Interactive, France, and Switzerland-based developer, Giants Software, donated $50,000 to Drought Angels to help struggling Aussie farmers upon last month's game release.
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Drought Angels co-founder and director, Tash Johnston said the organisation was incredibly grateful to the teams behind the Farming Simulator franchise which have generously supported Australian farmers in their time of need.
"This donation allows us to provide much needed practical assistance to front line farming families and the communities in which they live," Ms Johnston said.
Five Star Games managing director, Darren Macbeth, said the company, along with its international partners felt it was imperative to pull out all stops in order to deliver an initiative that gives back to Aussie farmers.
“We both have nothing but respect for the tireless and effective work that Drought Angels do to bring much needed emotional support and financial relief to the Aussie farmers in desperate need of it," Mr Macbeth said.
Giants Software marketing manager, Martin Rabl, said there was a real connection between the new game and those who live it.
“Sadly unlike in our game the effects of the drought are real," Mr Martin Rabl said.
“Working with Drought Angels allows us to give something back to the Aussie farming community for which we have the deepest respect.”
Digital farming benefits
WHILE those behind Farming Simulator 19 have assisted in helping drought stricken areas, there is an argument to be made for the benefits to players as well.
FS19 falls into a category known as "mindful gaming", offering players a change of pace and depth of immersion that can have significant benefits on mental wellbeing.
That's according to one of Australia's most prominent interactive media experts, Bond University's Dr Jeffrey Brand.
While common narratives tend to focus on the adrenaline-fuelled, fast-paced and all-out competitive nature of gaming, its capacity to have a calming and positive effect is often overlooked.
Professor Brand's recent Digital Australia Report 2018 (DA:18) revealed that 67 per cent of Australians now play video games and of those, 76pc readily identify mental health as the top benefit of playing.
The mindful quality of Farming Simulator lingers in its simulation of farm life, steady task-based action and peaceful, rural scenery.
It’s that commitment to recreating every detail that makes Farming Simulator such an effective mindful experience for players, according to Professor Brand.
“The frenetic, always-on pace of modern life can feel leave us feeling disconnected from life’s simpler pleasures, such as the relative peace of the countryside. Games that simulate the real world, such as Farming Simulator 19, can have significant cognitive and sensory benefits - slowing players down and immersing them in tasks and scenarios that are familiar and relaxing, but wouldn’t otherwise be accessible to them today,” he said.
Findings from DA:18 highlight the mindful impact that gaming can have, with research on Australian gamers showing that:
- 84pc feel that gaming improves their thinking skills;
- 74pc feel a positive impact from gaming on their emotional well-being;
- 70pc agree that gaming helps them reduce their anxiety;
- 75pc state that gaming improves life satisfaction.
Prof Brand said the positives of mindful games can even go beyond health, with educational benefit being another proven by-product of the genre.
“Slow content, which Farming Simulator 19 is renowned for, also promotes learning. In our research, 86pc of adults say video games improve their general knowledge and 75pc, report an increase in specialist knowledge," he said.
"The level of detail and accuracy provided by Farming Simulator 19 means it is an ideal platform for all Australians to learn about the land and the business of farming it.”
Farming Simulator 19 is available now on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC.