Versions is the essential guide to virtual reality and beyond. It investigates the rapidly deteriorating boundary between the real world and the one behind the screen. Versions launched in 2016 at the eponymous conference dedicated to creativity and VR with the New Museum’s incubator NEW INC.

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Manage your own lovely balcony garden in this botanist simulator

Manage your own lovely balcony garden in this botanist simulator

There have been a lot of games about growing plants lately. Whether in this year’s popular Harvest Moon homage Stardew Valley, or even at a much smaller scale, like the plant raising simulator The Botanist. Plants are all the rage lately, and it’s probably because of the inherent calm that emanates from them. And in the hellish year of 2016, boy do we need that relaxation time.

grow plants with ease

In Canada-based developer Paige Marincak’s latest game Botanic Balcony, the player is once again tasked with caring for their pseudo-leafy children: plants. The project was developed during the 37th Ludum Dare game jam, the largest recurring jam in the world (which, for its 37th time, procured hundreds of creative projects in line with its singular theme “One Room”). According to Marincak’s Twitter, Botanic Balcony is her first 3D game, first game jam, and her first game for VR. That’s a lot of firsts.

Water that baby!
Water that baby!

The bite-sized experiment plops the player onto a lone balcony, low-poly brick surrounding them. From there players can “grow as many plants as they want,” as the game’s itch.io description bids. They can select from a variety of pots, seedlings, and other tools (for example, a watering can) to urge their little flower babies grow to their fullest extent.

Botanic Balcony itself is simple—mind this is the fruit of an intensive game jam—but it’s calming in its focused exercise. Some say that caring for plants in real life helps ease stress. Others say they make the air in one’s home cleaner. Some, like me, just think they look nice (kudos to the succulent still surviving at my desk). And, honestly, I don’t see any harm in the same being said of digital plants too. Plants, no matter their existence, can help calm the soul. Both those alive, residing on our floors and balconies and desks, and the digital ones you’re sprinkling with faux-hydration in VR.

You can download Botanic Balcony here for free, compatible with the HTC Vive. You can check out more games from Ludum Dare 37 here, and follow Marincak’s Twitter to see more of her work.

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