As the pace of modern life continues to quicken, the world of gaming has responded with forms of entertainment from two extreme ends of the spectrum. On the one hand, gamers are offered adventures that mimic the hectic pace of life or even surpass it, with non-stop stimulation and movement. Then some encourage players to slow down, to be present in the moment and take a breather from the oftentimes manic rhythms of the rest of life.

Some of the more popular examples of the latter type of game – SimFarm, Stardew Valley, Harvest Moon, FarmVille and Farming Simulator, to name a few – enable you to drop out of the rat race for a while and try your hand at (virtual) farming.

It may seem strange that software developers should use the modern day’s unprecedented level of sophisticated computer technology to create scenarios in which players perform basic chores with little or no technological luxuries. It makes sense, though, if you consider that a prime function of video games since their inception has been to enable people to escape their familiar environments. For someone living amidst the constant stimulation of urban life, working on a farm is an exotic departure from everyday life.

In a world where many people are almost constantly surrounded by high-tech gadgetry, a simulation of life on a farm can be a welcome escape – even if, ironically, it is computer technology that delivers it. Some games, such as Stardew Valley, even begin with the premise of your character moving to a farm to escape from the complexities, pressures, and (sometimes soul-sucking) routines of modern life.

Playing these games can give you a feeling similar to that of watching an old black and white serial or sitcom on television: the sense that life moves at a slower pace, change happens gradually, and people stay in the same place all of their lives.

Modern life can make many people feel uneasy about abstract dilemmas, problems that aren’t apparent in a way in which they can be grappled with. Concerns such as cybersecurity, climate change, online privacy and overpopulation can cast a shadow of insecurity on people; and yet there is no clear way for any one individual to confront those issues. It can be a source of relief for many people to play games where the difficulties are apparent and their solutions – though not necessarily easy – are obvious.

Video game farming involves you with some of the most basic functions of life in its natural state: planting, growing and harvesting. The terms are simple and clear, which can make playing such games a source of relief – and a great way to unwind – for people who have gotten a bit frazzled by the speed of life nowadays.