I’ve never been great at video games. As a kid, I learned quickly that some people were naturally skilled at fast-paced, first-person shooters, and very much wasn’t one. The whole thing just made me anxious. Recently, though, I’ve been trying to game. Everyone always talked about how relaxing it could be, so I’d decided to give a few different ones a try. Some featured long walks and conversations or careful little puzzles topped with the soft sprinkling of bells or sweetly plucked strings.
But none of it ever really stuck. Most games like that take, what, a week to finish? Best case, a month? And of course, I knew about the Animal Crossing games, but if I’m not a gamer, why invest in a console? But then I came across Stardew Valley, and it happened to work for me.
Stardew Valley, if you’ve never heard of it, is a retro farming simulator with virtually endless possibilities in the form of side quests. Something about the simplicity of it is mesmerizing. I mean, when you begin a day (a save point in the game) you always start by watering and harvesting your crops. It’s such a quiet, calming task.
The stress of living in the city, living under the expectation of constant productivity made me stressed—something I think we can all understand. Spending my nights and weekends enveloped in the cheerful, monotonous existence of living off the land. Honestly, it has been the most relieving experience. Even roleplaying as a farmer in a tiny, coastal town made me feel better about my constantly moving, loud, pushy life.
Strangely enough, Stardew Valley has even helped with the quiet. Somehow this game feels as just productive as it does relieve. In the quiet of quarantine, it can feel nice to grow and be social, even if it’s in a virtual town. I can’t explain it, but for some reason, this game has provided comfort that I can’t find anywhere else. A life away from life. Better than any other life simulators out there because it isn’t about appearance or popularity. It’s about taking it slow, day by day. Maybe everyone could use more of that feeling.