Stardew Valley is an indie game that a friend of mine turned me on to. Though I had a lot of fun with games like Harvest Moon, I was a little skeptical of picking up a game like this as a working stiff at the age of 30.
However, I am really happy I gave it a chance.
What Kind Of Game Is Stardew Valley?
Well, it's essentially a farming game, and I do mean this in every sense of the word.
So when I say Stardew Valley is a farming game, you're farming everything from crops, to wood, to slimes, and even fishing plays a big part in the game.
That’s not all the game has to offer though.
On top of the classic farm simulator feel they’ve added combat and mining.
The two go hand in hand as you enter the town’s mine searching for money and rare artifacts to donate to the town’s museum, battling beasties to the very bottom of the shaft.
When you start your first day it’s hard to truly grasp exactly how much this game has to offer. Even the story makes you want to keep working through as much of the day as possible.
Why Would Anyone Be Into Farming For Fun?
Actually, there is quite a lot of psychology behind this.
Reward systems have been studied extensively, and that also goes for video game reward systems.
For a game like Stardew Valley the reward system comes from just about everything you can do in the game.
Almost anything can be sold, used in crafting, or traded as gifts to townsfolk. So even if you’re not out foraging, you may stumble upon a few Blackberry bushes on your way to the mines.
It’s true that the mines are much more profitable than any bunch of blackberries will ever get you. But if all you have to do is save an inventory slot and throw it in a box when you’re done for a few extra coins, why not pick them up?
This scenario demonstrates perfectly why Stardew Valley is so addicting.
So often in life we toil for hours on end with no tangible reward for our work in sight.
There’s just something satisfying about seeing a list of things you sold and exactly how much money it nets you to build your home with.
Most of us work for two weeks before seeing a dime of the work we do day to day. How would we not like seeing things get better every single day based on how much we put into it?
How Can A Game Be An Escape From And A Reminder Of The Importance Of Work In Life?
Well it really boils down to with how each day is organized: by time.
The simplicity in this game system driving the gamer to do more is brilliant. We’ve all had days that we wish had more time to do the things we wanted to do.
Stardew Valley does a great job at reminding us of how that makes our work rewarding.
Time is finite, and living in Pelican Town really hits that point home. Even if you have supplies to make energy a non-issue, time always seems to be productivity’s worst enemy.
As each day passes you slowly watch as your farm, skill set, and tool shed become more advanced.
You can also find a very rewarding play style in being a jack of all trades.
Water your plants in the morning, make your way to the hidden forest for hardwood, then take the mine cart to the mine for combat and ore hunting.
You’ll find all sorts of useful goodies seeking multiple ventures - and they add up in the long run.
Who Lives In Pelican Town?
Each character comes with their own likes and dislikes, place of residence, and even a multitude of places they like to go every day.
The Stardew Valley Wiki has pages on each character with some spoilers on their back story, as well as where they like to hang out at any given time.
Perhaps the greatest strength with a game like this is taking time to give gifts to each of the townsfolk to grow your relationship with them.
Courting the townsfolk comes with different benefits and story lines for each character.
Marrying one person will yield a benefit of different daily tasks for your spouse like watering the plants, as well as their backstory unfolding before your eyes.
Even characters who are already married can be gifted, and yes they have their cutscenes too.
But do the townsfolk really have that much to do with the game?
That depends on the player.
Each season brings it’s own festival which players are highly encouraged to attend.
Rewards for attending can be silly looking scarecrows for your crop fields named Rarecrows, furniture for your house or farm, and there’s even a night market in the winter with special goods for sale.
You’re also encouraged to help the town by donating goods to rebuilding the Community Center which is occupied by adorable sprites called Juminos.
A corporate store in the town called Joja Mart also offers a membership that causes the mayor to demolish the Community Center in favor of a Joja Mart Warehouse.
The Joja Mart warehouse allows you to unlock the same new areas the Community Center would using straight cash instead of donating farmed goods.
Donating to Community Center bundles can make it much cheaper to unlock new parts of the game like the mine cart, access to the Calico Desert for a more dangerous(and lucrative) mine, and even a personal quarry you can check for rare minerals each day.
It’s all in the name of farming, and Pelican Town definitely has that going for it.
Where Can This Stuff Help Me In Reality?
There’s a lot to take from a game like this.
Most importantly: Understand the benefit of hard work, even if it takes time.
As you become more established it becomes easier to make money. Upgrade your house fully for an entire cellar for making beer, wine, and jelly that sells for quite a bit of cash.
Once you find yourself with too much money to know what to do with, you can even start using it to invest more in characters for extra back story.
Stardew Valley seems to be a game not just to kill some time, but to remind us of why spending our time properly is important in life.
There is far too much in this game to detail in one post.
If you can see the benefit to taking time in a game like this it shouldn’t be hard to see where you can place your time in reality to make life better for yourself, and those around you.