“I’m sure the town thinks I’m a weirdo who never stops working”
Enjoying a quiet, simple life in Sta rde w Valley
Once, I used to play Euro Truck Simulator to rinse my brain of the anxiety and stress of modern life. Now I exfoliate it with Stardew Valley, a wildly addictive farming simulator by ConcernedApe. In the past I’ve lost hundreds of hours to the likes of Animal Crossing and Harvest Moon on Nintendo consoles, and this scratches all the same itches. It’s the kind of gentle game that you can play while listening to a podcast or binging on a Netflix show. But also has enough variety and depth to satisfy the urge for something with a bit more meat on the bone. Everyone plays Stardew Valley differently. There’s a whole friendship and romance system where you can talk to townsfolk, give them gifts and become a member of the community. But I haven’t touched any of that. For the first year, I’m here for profit. To harvest crops, sell them, and upgrade my homestead. It’s just turned winter, and I’m betting most of the people in Pelican Town don’t know who the hell I am. I only roll in there in the morning to buy seeds from Pierre and gather coral. I’m a recluse, sure, but a rich one.
My farm’s looking good. I have a coop, a couple of happy chickens, a silo stuffed with hay for the winter, and a cat. There’s something wonderfully calming about playing Stardew Valley, especially if you turn the music off and just listen to the sound of the wind howling and birds chirping. And I love how the landscape is transformed as the seasons shift, from the crisp green of spring to the golden brown of fall. When I’m tilling the soil and feeding my chickens, my troubles melt away. And selling off a bumper crop and making a fortune is hugely gratifying.
I’m fat on wealth and eggs, and it’ll be winter in a couple of days. Honestly, I’m looking forward to not having to water or tend to crops for a while. Maybe I’ll use this free time to start meeting people. Or maybe not. There are mines to plunder, mushrooms to forage, and trees to chop down. I actually think the solitude adds something to the game. It makes it more peaceful. Although I’m sure the town thinks I’m a weirdo who never stops working. I love that there’s no pressure to play Stardew Valley any particular way and no real time limits.
A lot of Stardew Valley is busywork, but the difference between this and bloated open world games is that you’re always working towards something you need. You know that after carefully watering those pumpkins for 12 days you’re going to make a huge amount of money and be able to upgrade your farm, unlocking new ways to play and make money. The game is constantly expanding, revealing new secrets and treats, and that’s why it’s such a lethal timesink. I can lose entire evenings to this game without ever being aware of time passing, which is dangerous, but a soothing balm for an anxietyridden brain.
The game is constantly expanding, revealing new secrets and treats
A field of bok choy waiting to be picked.
This old scarecrow is my only true friend.