Farming games often don't replicate real-world farming too closely — they prefer to strike a balance between fun and accurate, in which plants need watering every day, but pesticides, fertiliser, and maintenance aren't really on your to do list.
But upcoming game SunnySide is aiming to take a more realistic approach to the world of agriculture — and they've even teamed up with Epic Gardening, a YouTube account with 2 million subscribers, to get it right. We spoke to the man behind Epic Gardening, Kevin Espiritu, about gardens, games, and growing crops...
Nintendo Life: How did this partnership with SunnySide come about?
Kevin Espiritu (Epic Gardening): A member of the team reached out to me as a gardening fan, and mentioned that they'd used some videos from my YouTube channel as inspiration to design the watering and seeding systems in the game. As a fellow gardener-gamer, I was beyond excited and had to chat, and when I learned what the game was about, I was obsessed.
Do you play farming games? If so, which ones – and how accurate are they in general?
I grew up playing farming games, from SimFarm in the early days, to the Harvest Moon series, and more recently Stardew Valley. For the most part, farming games tend to deal with planting, watering, and time - the more complex ones will add some kind of spoilage element, or pest/disease problem.
What all of them miss (and it makes sense) is the maintaining of crops over time - pruning the tomatoes, pollinating the cucumbers, etc. I suspect this is for gameplay reasons as the core of the game is more about the player character and not the mechanics of the farm.
“The team up with Epic Gardening is an absolute dream come true for us here at RainyGames. It’s something we’ve been working on for a long time now. The hard work and dedication by Kevin and his team inspire us every day, and their continued mission to combine old ideas and traditions with new technology is a constant influence on how we develop SunnySide.”
-- Sydney Stockdale, RainyGames co-founder and producer
Grow what you LOVE to eat, even if it's challenging to grow
What’s the biggest tip you could give to beginner farmers and gardeners?
Grow what you LOVE to eat, even if it's challenging to grow. I used to tell would-be gardeners to grow the easiest plants, but I've found that unless you're excited to eat your harvest, you won't put as much thought into caring for your garden - so grow what excites you.
Do you think people can learn real-world techniques and skills from playing farming games?
To a degree - I think planning, layout, and structure is heavily focused on in farming games, and that can help a gardener look at their own IRL space in a more creative way. Hammering in that gardening takes maintenance via watering, planting, weeding functions can also help.
What are the biggest differences between urban and rural farming?
Space constraints are the biggest challenge, which changes farming technique. In an urban environment you're typically limited to containers or raised beds, while out in rural areas you can build classic row gardens or row farms, which are far more efficient from a time perspective. That said, there are amazing benefits to urban gardening, namely beautifying your space and growing incredible variety in a small area.
Thank you to Kevin for speaking to us, to RainyGames for working on SunnySide, and to Sarah from MergeGames for helping us set up this interview!
Have you learned anything about gardening from farming games? Do you have your own vegetable patch? Tell us in the comments!