Video Games

That Lana Del Ray song makes me super-duper sad.

I’ve recently been playing a ton of Stardew Valley. It’s a lot like the Harvest Moon games, with the premise being that you are starting out a new life on a farm near a tiny country town. Your basic goals are to make a living on your farm, collect goods to restore the town, and create relationships with the townsfolk.

Making a living on your farm is fairly easy, with growing crops being the main way to make money. The pace at which you make money correlates really well with the rate at which things become available for you to buy, or at least it did for me. I’ve worked my way through two years of in-game time, and I haven’t ever felt like I needed to work for too long to reach a goal, or that I had too much money and could buy whatever without consequence.

The town improvement aspect is probably my favorite of the three. You can do this by either 1. taking the obviously advisable route and repairing the community center by bringing goods to the tiny magical community center guardians or 2. selling your soul to the devil company that you just recently quit your job at and paying them tons of gold to do what you could have done yourself with green beans, duck feathers, and mayonnaise. I’m also easily satisfied by the feeling of having completed something. The groups of items that you collect are broken down into 7 sections, with 4 to 6 bundles in each of those. It gives a good way to measure progress, as well as increase your perception of making progress.

There are a fair few things I find amusing about the relationship building aspect, which mainly revolves around giving the characters gifts that they enjoy. You can give Shane green beans all day erry day, and he will love you so. frickin’. fast. Clint, the blacksmith, only loves minerals, and even then only specific minerals. What a fussbucket. Marnie, the kindly animal woman, loooves diamonds. Emily, who is the most quirky of all the eligible-for-marriage characters,  doesn’t like ice cream. Leah, the eligible character who is popularly regarded as the top choice, also does not like ice cream. Therefore, my character will not be marrying either of them. I’ll stick with Abigail, whose affections I can win with pumpkins, and who doesn’t like any other vegetables.

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This is what my farm looks like in winter. I have beehouses!

I like video games because I’m a micromanaging perfectionist at heart. But putting those feelings into virtual reality is perhaps one of the best ways for me to find release without allowing those qualities of mine to negatively affect my real-world relationships. I’m getting more and more interested in the psychological meta-game of video and board games. That’s something I want to learn more about, and in turn, find more ways to appreciate. I also want to find communities of people who appreciate video and board games in that way, along with just having fun playing. People for whom the psychology of gaming is part of the fun – not the whole of it, but not entirely invisible either.

More to follow.

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