The Compelling Fantasy That Is Stardew Valley

So while I was at PAX, my friend Taylor let me know that Stardew Valley is available for Mac. Perhaps it’s a holdover from my childhood, but I usually just assume that all the best games are PC only, even though that’s proven to be untrue in my adult life (Gone Home, anyone?). I purchased it almost immediately upon my return and have been playing it in the evenings and during the days I give myself off my near-constant stream of work. It’s been so addictive in a way that playing video games usually isn’t for me. Which of course has lead me to try to figure out why.

A lot of it is what Heather wrote, but with a few twists. The ability not to just destroy a corporation, but to completely ignore it. That’s a compelling fantasy for me. To be nearly untouched by Joja Soda has been lovely. I forgot they had a location in Pelican Town until I caught the sign out of the corner of my eye while fishing, tbh. The complete lack of engagement is exactly what I want.

I also kind of want an escape from the city right now? Everything is overwhelming and fast and there aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done, and I can’t say no to work because living in the city is expensive. So I can feel my hair turning grey strand by strand, like blades of grass popping up after a rainstorm except way less peaceful. The fantasy of fake country life is really compelling right now—where all I need to do to earn my living is catch enough fish and water enough plants, all while sitting down and listening to soothing music.

The magic aspect helps too. There are witches who fly on broom sticks and fairies and Void chickens and monsters and the idea that the mundane and the fantastic are intertwined. Yeah, that’s exactly what I want. Just a touch of elastic reality. Ugh. Wouldn’t it be nice if a fairy would drop by and do some of my work for me? I wouldn’t mind having a backyard with a Void chicken in it either, that’d be a conversation starter.

And make no mistake about it, the ease is definitely a fantasy. Farming is incredibly difficult. Even having a garden is too hard for me. So yeah, I’m super obsessed with this game. It’s going a long way toward de-stressing me.

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