I was talking with a friend lately about how much capitalism/neoliberalism ascribes our value to our productivity, and the stress that creates when we don’t come up to meet those external pressures, and I realized that I felt that very same stress playing Stardew Valley.
This isn’t to say it isn’t an excellent game, but I felt like it mirrored my life situation a little too closely. Even though there weren’t any hard-and-fast deadlines, I always felt like the days were ending way too quickly, and that I hadn’t gotten nearly as much done as I would’ve liked. My farm never grew too big, and my harvests were slow to grow and not terribly productive or profitable when they did. I’d wake up early to try and fish for a while, but my catches would get away from me, and by the time I was done, most of the shops were already closed. I did what I thought was the most I could every day, and I was still barely scraping by a few virtual months in. I spent as much time as I could spare between all of my other activities trying to befriend the townspeople, but I never got more than a couple hearts with any one of them, and I felt weirdly isolated after those first months.
I still enjoyed the game a lot, but I wasn’t expecting it to hit so close to home for me. Has anyone else had a similar experience with a game?