Game: Stardew Valley

I have written about pretty much aspect of my life and its passions: fictions, photography, programming & movies but I haven’t written about how I spend most of my free time: playing games. To be honest, I never considered playing games an important part of my character. I would rage at losing while playing Rocket League, get annoyed when making the highway interchange at Cities Skylines. They were just things I did to kill time.

Stardew Valley, in the last month, made me realize I am just as passionate with gaming as with writing or any other hobbies.

Stardew Valley has made me go ‘Aww!’ over its cute animals, ‘Damn’ over the lost crops when (ingame) season changed & exclaim ‘YAY!’ when I got a goal completed. This game is an super addicting gem of a game that I have played it until 3am at times.

Information about the game

Stardew Valley is a role-playing game developed by just one guy: Eric ‘ConcernedApe’ Barone with support from his partner. The sheer work needed to create this game, let alone polish it to its current product is jaw-dropping.

Before starting the game you have to create a character. This character is your manifestation into the game. You have a grandfather in the game who leaves you a letter before the game starts, telling you you will know when the time is right to open the game. Flash-forward, you are a part of a nameless corporate entity and you hate your current life. Opening the letter, you realize that your grandfather has left you a farm in Stardew Valley.

You move into your grandfather’s farm in Stardew Valley. What you do in that farm is entirely on you. You could sleep all day, you could work from dusk to dawn. You could socialize with everyone in town. You could be a hermit and refuse to leave your farm.

What I really love

Halfway through the first (game time) month, I have the option to adopt a stray pet: either a cat or dog. I can name the pet. In my latest save game, I have a cat named Odin, after the cat I was catsitting for a year. I miss Odin. In the game, I can pet Odin everyday.

I can farm plants. And the animations on the game are such that everytime I harvest a crop, my character would stand facing the camera with the crop held up high with pride. Same with any new fish caught or a new item foraged. The character would hold everything high that he has obtained. It is the tiny things that makes me love it more.

I can also have farm animals in the game. Cows, pigs, chickens, rabbits, sheep, goats. I can pet them all. When I buy a youngling for my farm, my first interaction with the character has a pop-up box with has something along the lines: Youngling is shy but curious about the new surrounding. It is the tiny things.

The game has an official wiki page too. I keep reading it to see how to finish the quests and I know that is cheating. But I can see what all I have to look forward to. I know I could have a monster flatmate who is just adorable. I know I can pretty much start a family in the game if I want to. I know I can read books, participate in festivals and even visit the spa. It is the tiny things again.

I know that there is always something to look forward to in the game even if it is just to pet Odin. In another saved game, I have a pet dog named Jimmy.

I found out Stardew Valley has an Android version too and I am trying to convince my mom to get it on her phone too. She loved Farmvile.

Why I love Stardew Valley

You can do anything you want to do in the game. Therefore, Stardew Valley asks you what you wanna do. What are your priorities in life: people, work satisfaction or money. And it allows you to have more than one answer. I have been trying to create a nicely organized but efficient farm where I can make heaps of money and yet still have the satisfaction of perfect arrangement.

I haven’t tried it yet but one day in the future I am sure I would try to completely customize my character’s appearance. Go with someone who looks completely opposite to what I am.

Lastly, I love this game because I know things will work out.

It is so relaxing to have a manual for a life, to know the answers to all questions and a strategy for all quests. I can open the wiki everytime I am stuck and then just follow the instructions. My character will overcome obstacles as I know how to overcome the obstacles. He will earn money, he will get a bigger house and a pet that loves him.

My character will be happy.

It is the tiny thing that I can make sure someone’s life is sorted makes me never stop playing this game.

If you have a desktop or any device, you should definitely get this game.

Movies: Little Women (2019)

I have never read Louisa May Alcott‘s 1869 novel Little Women. The first time I heard of Little Women was on This American Life’s episode #680. I did not know there had been 6 adaptations of the book but I knew of Greta Gerwig through her movie ‘LadyBird’. It took a wonderful recommendation from FilmJoy on YouTube for me to put Little Women (2019) on my list and watch it.

A fascinating aspect about the movie was how modern its ideology is. I expected a lot more stigma around women working and not marrying but the movie doesn’t put those things as barriers. It doesn’t present stigma of an independent women as an obstacle, it embraces it as if it is something that has always been a part of women’s lives.

The hardship that the March sisters face is not the society but life itself.

There is a certain joy about watching a movie so well crafted. I felt it when watching Parasite although for the complete opposite reasons. This movie made me live with the March family, laugh with them and grieve with them. It made me proud of Jo and what she had achieved despite everything. It made me happy for Amy & Meg for their marriages. I mourned for Beth like Jo & Marmee did.

The March family become my neighbours or an extension to my family. The March’s lives were mundane and I could see my life reflected in them.

I have thrown tamper tantrums because my brother didn’t bring me along when he hung out with his friends. There are times when I was happy for my name to be mispronounced or given a new name because I wanted to fit in. When we were young, my dad would be working out of the state so it would be an event when he would visit. He would routinely call at a specific time. I have ventured out of my home to accomplish something and support my family just like Jo has. I am sure my brother feels the same.

The characters are people who could be me or someone who I know. I have met people who are basically Jo or Beth and I will always cherish the time I spent with them. And at the same time, just like every character in this story grew up and grew apart, so did the people in my life.

It is a life story. No wonder this movie has been remade 7 times in its history.

The last 10 mins of this movie. Jo is in the attic. Bereft of her youngest sister, and her hope for a normal life. She finds her life not being anywhere close to what she imagined what it would be. What does she do?

What can you do if you are in her place?

You write your own story.

You put it down page by page, break it down piece by piece and rebuild. Editing, rewriting everything. You think about your story, you sleep with your story, eat with your story.

It doesn’t matter if you have to change the end of your story even though you don’t agree with it.

You make compromises.

Because it is not about the end of the story. It was never about the end of the story.

It will, and always be about the whole book that you can clutch in your hands.

After all of the hardship, the pain, the LIFE of it all, you did what you intended to do.