Much of the eco-crowd likes to trash video games. Occasionally, I do agree. At their worst they can suck people's lives away. But I would like to admit that video games were one of the reasons I got into farming. Harvest Moon, a series of Japanese video games centered on farming, are my favorite video games. I started playing them when the first one came out for the original game boy in America and I still play them, primarily while traveling since otherwise I don't have much free time.
A locavore's dream, the Harvest Moon games are focused on small-scale farming and tight-knit local communities. You get rewards for talking with your neighbors and treating your cows well. Contrast that with popular games like Grand Theft Auto where you get points for running over people and slapping around prostitutes.
While there are lots and lots of differences between Harvest Moon and real farming, I did learn some key things:
1. Repetitive work is not always bad. In fact, it can be quite comforting. Planting seedlings, hoeing, and transplanting leeks....fantastic stress relief.
2. Have picnics on your farm. It connects people to where their food comes from and helps build community ties.
3. If you have a small farm, diversify! It's a lot easier to stay afloat if you rely on multiple sources of income.
4. Don't forget about foraging. In the game, wild foods can be a source of income and sustenance.
5. Plant your crops in a way that makes later chores like weeding less taxing.
However, Harvest Moon is not a how-to-farm game. It's very much simplified. There is no starting seeds inside, nor insect pests, and soil is woefully ignored. I want the next games to reward good crop rotation or something.