Fed up with his soulless collective work, a young man moves to the farm he inherited from his grandfather, where he joins a bizarre community and meets his future husband. That’s not the plot of a new gay Hallmark movie – it’s the story of my pixel-changing ego in the Stardew Valley video game.
In February 2016, Eric Barone, known online as ConcernedApe, released Stardew Valley for PC. Simulation role-playing games are fast becoming a hit. During the pandemic, Stardew Valley fever returned with a vengeance. Thanks to the popularity of the Nintendo Switch and the major game update released in December, it recently sold its 10th million copy.
Since its debut, Stardew Valley has been hailed for its relaxing, immersive gameplay, a Harvest Moon-inspired simulator that is sure to delight Animal Crossing lovers. The player creates their own farmer avatar, then leaves the city for the Stardew Valley. There, they manage their ranch while hone their skills, complete quests and, if the player wishes, romance a qualified villager. The game’s healthiness is appealing globally, but its distinctive blend of gay romance options, anti-corporate sentiment, and Pastoral Meditation make it even more suitable for people. escape like me – urban gays trapped in an endless pandemic slogan. I grew up thinking that any adult life can be easily accessed by any adult. Now I’m pretty sure I can only get it from a computer game.
In real life, I am a single lesbian in Brooklyn who is trudging through my second year working from home. My most productive days involve moving from Office A (my bedroom desk) to Office B (my coffee table). On Thursdays, I wake up excitedly to water the indoor plants. I dealt with the frenzy by watching TikToks of mushroom foragers, professional hikers and cottagecore lesbians. All of these people seem to be living in a universe without Gmail, Zoom or a mask, their rent being paid for by chirping birds and dried lavender.
In Stardew Valley, life can be as simple as that. My farming days usually go like this: He wakes up and takes coffee for his husband, then kisses the said husband and their two toddler children before completing his farming duties. He’s – collect eggs, make goat cheese, grow sunflowers. His biggest problem right now is the voluntary task of transporting 500 fruit at the end of the month. There is no consequence for failure. I can redo any bad day with the click of a button.
Although inclusive romance is increasingly becoming an option in open-ended, role-playing games like Stardew Valley, it’s rarely a default choice in video games. Players take on the male leads directly in cult series such as Halo, Zelda, Grand Theft Auto and Mario. And homosexuality – much less homosexual – has become scarce in the media. When portrayed, that romance is often necessarily fraught with real-world problems: going out, finding community, fighting prejudice. In the Stardew Valley, my farmer’s homosexuality was a bad thing. I asked him to work for his husband, the town doctor, by bringing him fruits and vegetables.
However, homosexuality is not accepted to the point of becoming invisible. If you let your farmer chase a younger villager of the same sex, sometimes cutscenes show the person shyly admitting their first gay affair. In same-sex weddings, the ceremony person gracefully casually pronounces “husband and wife” or “wife and wife”.
This balance between comprehensiveness and acknowledgment can feel especially heartwarming given the game’s small-town setting. A 2019 report by the Think Tank Movement Progress Project shows that, although 3 to 5% of rural Americans identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, their environment There are significant challenges. “On average, public opinion in rural areas is relatively less supportive of LGBT people and issues,” the report states, citing the law of discrimination and political representation as additional barriers.
There’s a notable blind spot in the game’s sunny outlook: You can customize your avatar for a darker skin tone, but your peasants will join a minority group in Stardew Valley . There are only three characters in the game’s preset, a 41-person world with black skin, making this pixelated paradise even more alien to people of color.
Even if I wanted to change my career, overcome those hurdles and live my gay farm fantasy, home ownership was even less real for me, at the age of 26. According to a recent survey, most millennials said they do not have enough savings to make payments down to the US average. Even if I could get a mortgage, it was hard to imagine I could pay it off with fresh milk and organic radish.
In the Stardew Valley, corporate greed is a much more oppressive force than homosexual stigma. JojaMart, the Amazon-meet-Walmart from which your farmers escaped, hopes to take over the town by replacing the community center with a warehouse. Competition caused prices at the local seed store to soar, and two villagers struggled with poverty and alcoholism. To rebuild the community, players must develop, craft and earn a variety of goods. From there, the fact is that your hard-earned Stardew Valley cash is poisonous. After exhausting your options for farm buildings and house expansion, all that’s left is ways to elevate the town, such as upgrading a villager’s home into one. .
As I scroll through the social media, I see my peers enamored with their own fantasies with mood boards and TikTok videos of beautiful weddings, humble jungle cottages and shoals grass biodiversity. These are theoretically achievable, but for many young homosexuals today, they may feel more like daydreaming. I don’t think his farmer avatar will be able to harvest his 500 crops before the timer runs out, but at least he comes up with those simple pleasures with ease.