This indie farm simulation is a tool for self-awareness
I gave up video games months ago when I realized I was slowly conforming to the shape of my vintage IKEA Poang chair. This was not the shape I wanted to turn into so I sold my TV, gave my console and games to a friend, and swore off games until I got my act together.
Cue Winter, Sickness, Isolation, and Boredom, the four horsemen of relapse. So upon my sister’s recommendation I picked up Stardew Valley, the amazing, cheap, indie, farming game that can play on my 5 year old laptop. It feels like the best ever Super Nintendo game you never got to play.
I binged hard, 30+ hours in less than a week. I was proud of my burgeoning pastoral life, but I was getting less proud of my real life. So “life lessons” started popping into my mind. You know the type, bits of wisdom you think are so important that you need to immediately write the next hot viral self-help article. I’ll get to the lessons later.
It turns out I’m not alone.
When hunting for a great title I came across article after article on “Life Lessons from Stardew Valley.”
Like this one.
And this one.
And these two!
Ok, you get it, something about this game flips a switch. But it’s not just the game! Here’s why:
- Stardew Valley gives you a chance to experience flow, unlike real life.
- Who doesn’t want to quit their boring job and live a simple life away from it all?
- The game gives you time to pause, which leads to reflection, which leads to inspiration.
- Secret Bonus Reason: It’s really easy to binge, and your mind will find “life lessons” as a reason to cope with the guilt of it all. Netflix doesn’t compare.
Amazingly this game is just $15 (often on sale on Steam, Xbox/PS4, HumbleBundle). Also amazingly the game was created by just one person, working with dedication over four years. Four years! Pursuing his passion to create an homage to Harvest Moon, Eric Barone (@ConcernedApe on twitter) wrote the music, did the art, all of it. He learned how to code to make this game.
This game has sold nearly half a million copies.
That would be like learning English in order to write and your first book is the season’s best seller. Or learning to play guitar and your first album goes gold (platinum is 1 million, there’s time yet for Eric).
I only wish I had the tenacity, the doggedness, the determination and support to work on one project over and over for four years until my dream is realized. Perhaps the lessons from this game can lead me to that. Like a seed planted and nurtured into fruition, Stardew Valley can give me the meaning I need to make my dreams a reality.
To close, here’s the lessons I’ve learned do far:
- If you look at your phone for a moment, hours will slip by (in the game and in life).
- It’s not about the money, it’s about the pride from a job well done.
- Understanding people’s wants and needs takes time, but is ultimately worth it.
- You can spend all your time fighting and mining for gold but it’s not as satisfying as a well organized garden of bountiful crops.
- Patience! Planning! You can get better at both, but that means failing first.
- When there isn’t work to do take time to reflect and appreciate the work you’ve done.