With his gentle corporate job, a young man goes to an inherited farm from his grandfather, where he joins a quaint community and meets his future husband. This is not the plot of a new gay Hallmark film – this is the story of my pixelated alter ego in a video game Stardew valley.
In February 2016, Eric Barone, known online by his nickname Concernedapp, released Stardew Valley for PC. The simulation role-playing game quickly became a hit. In the epidemic, Stardew Valley fever is back with a vengeance. Thanks to the popularity of Nintendo Switch And this is a massive game update recently released in December Sold 10 million copies of it.
Since its debut, Stardew Valley has been lauded for its relaxed, sinking gameplay, Harvest Moon-inspired simulator to please lovers of animal crossings. Players create their own peasant avatars, who then leave the city for Stardew Valley. There, they manage their fields, honoring skills, completing quests and, if the player wishes to romance a qualified villager. The game’s perfection is universally appealing, but its particular blend of same-sex romance options, anti-corporate sentiment and rustic Zen conforms to escapists like me – gay millennial urban mired in an endless epidemic slogan. I grew up thinking that any adult could easily use a simple life. Now I am pretty sure that I can only get it from computer games.
In real life, I am a single lesbian in Brooklyn who works from home in her second year. In my most productive days there is a move from Office A (desk in my bedroom) to Office B (my coffee table). On Thursday, I cheer for members of our household to give them water. I encounter the bustling madness by watching Mushroom Forest, Expert Hiker and K Teetalk Hut Lesbians. These people all live in their fares paid by the universe Gmail, Zoom or Mask, Birdsong and Dried Lavender.
In the Stardive Valley, life can be so simple. My farmer days usually go like this: – collecting eggs, making goat cheese, planting sunflowers before he wakes up and gets coffee for her husband, then kisses husband and their farm duties before setting about Two children said. Their biggest problem right now is the voluntary search to ship 500 fruits by the end of the month. There are no consequences for failure. I can redo any bad day with the click of a button.
Although inclusive romance has increasingly become an open-ended option, role-playing such as Stardew Valley, it is rarely the default in video games. Players take on straight male personalities in blowout franchises such as Halo, Zelda, Grand Theft Auto, and Mario. And same-sex romance – much less same-sex domesticity – is already rare in all types of media. When shown, romance is often fraught with real-world problems: coming out, finding a community, combating prejudice. In Stardew Valley, my farmer being gay is a non-reason. I gave it to her husband, city doctor, bringing fruits and vegetables.
Yet homosexuality is not so much embraced as invisible. If you see your farmer chasing a young villager of the same sex, the cut scenes sometimes show the young man shyly his first gay crush. During same-sex weddings, abusive attractively stumbles through the pronunciation of “husband and husband” or “wife and wife”.
This balance between inclusion and acceptability can be particularly heartfelt given the founding of the game’s small town. a 2019 report The think tank Movement Advancement Project found that, although 3 to 5 percent of rural Americans are identified as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender, their environment comes with significant challenges. “On average, there is relatively little support for LGBT people and issues in rural areas,” the report said, stating discriminatory legislation and political representation as additional barriers.
The game’s Sunny Outlook has a notable blind spot: you can adapt your avatar to have a darker skin, but your farmer will join the minority in the Stardive Valley. The game has only three characters in its predetermined, dark-skinned 41-person world, making the pixelated paradise more distinct to people of color.
Even if I wanted to change my career, cross those hurdles and fulfill my gay farm fantasy, homebuyership seems less realistic to me at 26 as well. According to a recent survey, Most millennials reported that they did not have enough savings to make the average US down payment. Even if I can get a mortgage, it’s hard to imagine that I could pay it off with fresh dairy and organic parsnips.
In the Stardive Valley, corporate greed is a far more repressive force than homophobia. JojaMart, the Amazon-Meet-Walmart group from where your farmer escapes, hopes to convert the community center from a warehouse to occupy the city. The competition raises prices at the local seed shop, and the two villagers struggle with poverty and alcoholism. To rebuild the community, players must grow, craft and make a series of goods. From there, it is practically impossible to spend your hard-earned Stardew Valley cash maliciously. After exhausting their options for farm buildings and house expansion, all of this is a way to uplift the city, such as upgrading a fellow villagers’ trailer to the house.
As I scroll down on social media, I see my peers indulging their own imaginations with mood boards and the beautiful weddings of Ticktock, the humble woodland cottage Biodiversity Lawn. In theory these things are attainable, but for many young gay people today, they can feel like daydreams. I don’t think my farmer avatar will be able to harvest 500 of its crops before the clock runs out, but at least it comes easily through those simple pleasures.