The term farming in gaming has bothered me for some time. It really is not accurate of a term if you think about it. With real life farming, there is a degree of certainty involved. I know what I’m going to get. With video game farming, there is no such guarantee. It’s time for a new term that more accurately describes what it is we really are doing.
First, for the uninitiated, let’s explain what farming is. Farming is a term that goes back over 10 years in video games as far as I know. I first remember it in my World of Warcraft days.
Farming refers to the process of doing something over and over again to gather resources or items in a video game. The items might be weapons, equipment, skins, emotes, or even vehicles.
It could involve completing a dungeon or fighting a specific boss over and over again, hoping to get the drop that you are looking for.
It also can be searching the game world for specific materials. For example, Hew’s Bane, in The Elder Scrolls Online, is a great area to farm for rubedite ingots, especially around the mountain area on the western edge of the map. It is also a great place for farming Kuta aspect runes.
Farming is different than grinding. Grinding involves fighting battles over and over or completing quests to gain experience and level up your character(s), gear, or weapons.
Replaying missions, strikes, raids, and leveling up factions to get to light level 400 in Destiny would be grinding. Playing the Undying Mind over and over hoping to get the perfect Imago Loop drop would be farming.
So what is wrong with the term farming? Well, it just doesn’t feel right.
If a farmer plants rows and rows of corn in an open field, guess what they are going to get every single time they do it? Yep, corn.
If I go out to my garden and plant tomato seeds, there is not going to be a 1% chance I get tomatoes, 10% chance I get carrots, 8% chance I get watermelons, and a 81% chance I get lettuce. Nope. I am going to get tomatoes.
Why do we choose the term farming for something that is so random? It just does not make sense.
Alright, SkySoldier. You have made some good points. So what should we call it instead?
I’m glad you asked.
Wouldn’t fishing make more sense?
Think about it.
If I go out to a spot in the ocean that is known to be inhabited by swordfish, there is no guarantee, no matter how long I fish, that I will catch a swordfish. I have a chance to catch a swordfish.
The more I fish, the better my chances of catching one.
I might cast my line 300 times and never catch one. Meanwhile, my buddy walks up to the edge of the boat, casts his first line, and, of course, he catches a swordfish.
Doesn’t that feel more like most of our farming experiences in games?
Maybe I am just being anal about the term not really being an accurate representation of the experience. However, I think most gamers would admit that the term fishing does make a lot more sense.