The game of choice on the rise for our virtual farming community is Farming Simulator, writes Federated Farmers policy advisor Macaulay Jones.
Want to make serious money farming in air-conditioned comfort?
Unbelievably you can by winning money at a major video game gathering about farming.
While it's farming pixels and not actual wheat or cows, it is farming - and it is helping boost knowledge of an industry that feeds the world, along with the Kiwi economy.
The game of choice on the rise for our virtual farming community is Farming Simulator.
Reported in a press release by the games publisher Giants Software, Farming Simulator 19 sold over 1 million copies 10 days after its launch in late 2018 and now Farming Simulator is starting an e-sports league.
Read more from Federated Farmers here.
Giants Software announced the creation of the inaugural Farming Simulator league, designed to span two years, whose grand finale will take place at Giants Software own convention, 'FarmCon' in 2020.
Organised Farming Simulator competitions existed before, but now players have the chance to win a €100,000 final prize out of the €250,000 total prize pool.
The popularity of Farming Simulator is an example of the ongoing interest the public has for agriculture.
The e-sports competition is a major opportunity to improve food education and awareness of an industry many people take for granted.
Farming Simulator is a good way to reach people who otherwise may never see a real farm - people who have no grasp on where their food comes from could be educated through this game.
Farming video games quickly teach kids chocolate milk doesn't come from chocolate cows and pineapple isn't grown in cans.
Video games understandably get a bad reputation when the publics only exposure is to violent first-person shooters, but Farming Simulator is one of many popular video games in which the goal is to increase your on-farm productivity rather than your tally of slain opponents.
The success of Farming Simulator 19 follows the stunning popularity of Farmville back in 2009.
Farmville did not involve the tractor driving, hay stacking adrenaline rush of Farming Simulator, but players quickly found themselves impatiently waiting to harvest virtual crops, and many paid real money to speed the process up.
Available to play on Facebook, Farmville quickly grew to have over 30 million daily active players, and made its publisher, Zynga over $1 billion.
In Farming Simulator players not only perform day-to-day farming tasks such as harvesting crops, raising livestock, and stacking hay, but they also need to manage all the many moving parts of a modern farm.
Farming Simulator shows people the troubles farmers manage while also showing farming is an industry filled with people who care about their animals, environment and community.
It also helps virtual farmers now can harvest bushels of real cash along with their fresh virtual produce.