November 15, 2016

Andreas Betsche

‘Sky Garden: Farm In Paradise’ is a time waster but I can’t stop playing it

November 15, 2016 | Andreas Betsche

This is the first article on this website that I am afraid to write. Because, you know, “Sky Garden: Farm In Paradise” is one of these casual farming games for Android similar to “Farmville”. To be honest, I don’t like these kinds of games. It hurts my hardcore gamer’s soul. The gameplay is mostly reduced to hitting buttons and most of the time is spend with waiting for that little knick-knack to finish. And what I am proud of: I am not responsive to in-game payments. I never bought any gems, or coins or whatsoever… Ahhh, damn you, Hearthstone…

Sky Garden1
This my garden in the clouds. Isn’t it wonderful?

Okay, all right. I must admit that I play free-to-play casual games from time to time. But why should I choose “Sky Garden” out of billions of available similar products? This Vietnamese mobile game caught my attention because the community voted for it on this year’s 1st IMGA mobile game awards for Southeast Asia and it won the People’s Choice award. And when were the people ever wrong before?

The screen is cluttered with items. This is the farm overview.

Now I plant roses, bananas and kiwis on clouds. I sell those goods to… I don’t know who exactly needs all this crap, but I have an owl that carries them somewhere. I can sell them to other players too. And when I visit their gardens, I can help with cleaning them, catching bugs or repairing their machines. This feels good, a social aspect, although I mainly do it for my own good. As I have three currencies to manage (coins, hearts and the evil of all F2P-games: diamonds), the game keeps me busy with performing the same actions repeatedly: plant, wait, harvest, sell, produce, wait, plant … All of this earns me experience and money. The pillars of a happy sky farmer’s life.

Look at all the friends I have!

Every now and then I accumulate enough experience points to unlock new clouds, plants and mini-games. Oh, yes, the mini-games… Ice-fishing, mining or “the cinema” are not actually fun to play but they keep on pushing me to the next level-up. I am caught and I feel addicted. I am glad that I don’t have to spend a single penny on useless stuff because everything can be earned in-game. And then I get tired of repeating the same things over and over again. And I begin to wonder, what this game is all about. Nothing in this world is explained, there doesn’t seem to be any concept. It feels like the developers of VNG Games Studios mixed up a dream world of all kinds of assets available and poured an extra thick layer of “cuteness” on top.

Let’s do some mining. In the sky. Sure …

And then again it doesn’t matter, I keep on playing. I want to get that next level-up, that next upgrade for my barn and catch all the fish in the ice pond. The people are right. Go, waste away your free time and play “Sky Garden: Farm in Paradise”.

Maybe I should reconsider myself as a casual gamer now …

Andreas Betsche

Andreas Betsche founded Virtual SEA in early 2016 after researching Cambodian mobile games for his Master’s thesis. He has a background in Southeast Asia studies and has worked and lived in Cambodia, Malaysia, and Indonesia. Since he has been actively playing games since the early 90s, combing both worlds in Virtual SEA brought together both of his passions.

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