From a young age, we are taught about the concept of addiction. A great emphasis is made on the dangerous things like drugs and
alcohol. At age 11, I could name almost every slang term for marijuana. At age 13, I split a root beer schnapps with my best friend
and got so drunk (not really). Now at 27, the vices I struggle with are sugary foods, and this game Stardew Valley.
It begins in a dreary ofce warehouse. A blinking green light indicates that you the player must “work, work, work.” You receive a
letter from your late grandfather in which he gifts you a huge piece of land. Escape from the monotony of city life is imminent, a
huge appeal to almost anyone in the working class. Kicking your old corporate job to the curb, you ee that day on a bus to the
To me personally, and I imagine to many others, it would be a dream come true. No mortgage for one, and the freedom to pursue
whatever kind of work you want. From the opening scene alone, this game had me hooked. The graphics aren’t fancy, just pixel art,
but the immediate immersion I felt within a few minutes is to be commended. The “enemy” is introduced right away, that being the
old company you worked for, Joja. It embodies everything corporate; big box grocery store, cola industry, etc. You can choose to
support them as an evil plot line, but I did not.
General but important lessons are acknowledged as you go along: supporting local business, showing kindness to others, being
active in your community, and working hard. If you thought that green blinking light turned off when you left Joja, I assure you it
So how can a game about work be fun? That is a good question, and one I will leave to the scientists who will inevitably study the
sheer drop in global productivity since Stardew Valley came out.
It felt good to be progressing, and the further I got in the game, the worse I started to feel in real life. Maybe I’m overthinking it, but
the simplicity of the life in the game is covetable. It would not be easy, but it would be simple. I suppose when we look too long into
the tangled void that is modern life, it becomes overwhelming. As one person, I could never hope to dismantle corporate greed, or
But in Stardew Valley I can…
You get stuck in a loop. Water the crops, milk the cows, collect the eggs, feed the crotchety old mountain man, go mining, go shing,
stay up too late, rush home, collapse into bed. Repeat. Just one more harvest, one more season, one more year. The gratication is
endless. In game life, I am a master of accomplishment.
Homeless old mountain man, Linus.
The same could not be said about my real life, so today I took a break. I cleaned my house, and planted some seeds for a small
garden. I can’t say I will run out and go volunteering or spend every waking moment working towards my goals, but I can go for a
walk on the trail, and maybe check out the farmers market on the weekend. Small things to make me feel better and when done
collectively could conquer some of the world’s problems.
In conclusion, a gentle reminder from Stardew Valley: think globally, act locally.
Just a little less locally than your computer desk.
Thanks for reading.