|Duane A. Lienemann|
The question is – “Can a video game help train the next generation of young farmers?” When I was still teaching in the high school venue there was a game that came out called SimFarm, I would bet some of you played that game. It was kind of addicting and was fun, but not really very realistic. I was happy later to see a Facebook game called FarmVille, when it came out, as it put people who had never lived on a farm or generations from ancestors who may have lived and worked on farms a little taste of agriculture. Exposure of any kind to me is an important inroad for those of us who are trying to bolster the literacy of agriculture and place farming and ranching in a different light than what is being portrayed by so many anti-farm activists on television, internet and even in our schools. Let’s take a look at this video game this week.
Farming Simulator 15, a computer game by Giants Software, was released last week and promises: "new graphics and physics engine, new visual effects, a new interface, new gameplay mechanics and, a new and vast game environment;" The first version of this game was released in 2007 and had an impressive fan base selling millions of copies. The company has a website: http://www.farming-simulator.com/ and www.Twitter.com/farmingsim where you can learn more about the game. What is amazing is that the worldwide video game marketplace, which includes video game console hardware and software, online, mobile and PC games, may reach $111 billion in 2015. Driven by strong mobile gaming and video game console and software sales. I had no idea that there was that much impact in the gaming world, but then I should when I see my grandsons playing all types of games on their big screen TV’s. Could this gaming technology be adapted to help ag?
From what I can determine the main goal of the game is to harvest your crops/produce and sell them in order to expand your farming enterprise (e.g. machines, fields, animals and buildings). Hmmm.. sounds pretty realistic The players are free to explore, grow whatever crop they want and invest their money how they like. Players can participate in multiplayer sessions where they farm together. One interesting feature is that there are more than 100 detailed farm machines and vehicles, including the largest New Holland combine ever introduced - the 2015 CR10.90 Elevation Combine - WOW!
It may be hard to imagine using a game to help train young farmers in the United States. But, it is reported that 60 percent of Americans play video games, according to the Entertainment Software Association, an industry trade group. That’s more than the percentage of Americans who tuned into the last Super Bowl, pay for cable or subscribe to Netflix. As the technology becomes more realistic, there could be applications developed to help familiarize farmers to new tractors, combines and equipment before hitting the field and can be done in the off season. Here is the intro video of several that are fun to watch:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rK7NAXO-0&index=2&list=UUOmANDuJs2IHiEq8p9Ll5tw . They even have a video created by a player who provides an overview as he plays. The graphics and operations continue to improve and become more realistic.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=oGj8cd-l-wo . For all of you involved in agriculture out there that have not even started looking for Christmas presents – you are welcome!!!!
Speaking of ag literacy and anti-farm activists. I was both sickened and elated this past week when I heard that my own University of Nebraska was the target of an anti-animal agriculture effort under the guise of climate change/global warming concerns. If you didn’t hear about this, a group of students initiated an effort to bring “Meatless Mondays” to all the residence halls and fraternities on campus. You can find a YouTube that espouses the benefits of meatless Mondays at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tpziz8cJMaI brought to you by --- guess who? You got it ---the Humane Society of the United States – HSUS! You don’t suppose they had something to do with this student ASUN effort do you?
I thought first that someone was pulling my leg, but no…..it was really happening. A group called the “Environmental Sustainability Committee” proposed a bill to the Association for Students at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (ASUN) senate meeting that was aimed to educate students in all of the UNL dining halls about Meatless Mondays. It did not go unnoticed by collegiate ag students and I am proud of what they did! About 100 students showed up at Wednesday’s meeting of the ASUN Senate, most who were opposed to this anti-livestock bill. During an open forum session ahead of the meeting, five leaders representing campus groups spoke out against the bill. The speakers were members of UNL Collegiate Cattlemen, UNL Block and Bridle and the UNL Collegiate Farm Bureau, several of which are former and present FFA and 4-H members from across our State. I understand that the Nebraska Beef Council, A-Fan and Nebraska Ag in the Classroom provided information to help the students prepare, in a very short time, to offset the dialogue that was presented by the individuals that were pushing this agenda. I was elated to hear that after much debate, the bill was rejected by a majority of senators. Great, we are after all a Land Grant University! You can find some of the information used at: http://factsaboutbeef.com/2012/10/12/are-meatless-mondays-better-for-me-and-the-environment . Way to go Aggies!!!
The preceding information comes from the research and personal observations of the writer which may or may not reflect the views of UNL or UNL Extension. For more further information on these or other topics contact D. A. Lienemann, UNL Extension Educator for Webster County in Red Cloud, (402) 746-3417 or email to: firstname.lastname@example.org or go to the website at: http://www.webster.unl.edu/home