One of my favourite things to do after a long day of nine-to-five work is crack open a beer, get cosy on the sofa, and play two to five hours of a game where I have a nine-to-five job. It seems ludicrous to spend my free time doing exactly what I do in my non-free time, and yet, here I am - one of millions of people doing tasks for fun and zero profit. In fact, I paid for the privilege to pretend that I have to restore and maintain a struggling farm/tourism spot/tiny café.
What gives? Why are games like Harvest Moon, Story of Seasons, Stardew Valley and Animal Crossing so dang popular? Are we just so entrenched in capitalism that we can't even fathom escaping it, and playing a game in an economy-free world?
Well, maybe. But there are lots of reasons - psychological, emotional, and even chemical - that so many of us find comfort in the mundane and reassuring worlds of these games, where progress is slow, but satisfying. You only have to look at the number of people playing Valheim - five million, as of last week - to see that people really, really love the farm-fish-forage-fight game loop that these games offer, and even more so when it can be played with friends.
Let's start our deep-dive with the beginning of the pandemic. Remember how everyone got really into baking bread, taking care of a million houseplants, and grinding their own coffee? It felt really strange to suddenly have everyone take this medieval plague scenario that we found ourselves in, and use it as an excuse to roleplay an actual medieval peasant. You know you can just... buy bread, right?
But I was sucked in too, having jumped on the fresh bread/houseplants bandwagon back in the mid-2010s (and given myself chronic tendinitis from all the kneading, no joke) and the sudden dearth of supplies was as heartbreaking to me as any amateur baker. In an increasingly complicated world, where I have a calendar for all my meetings, several apps to manage my money, health, and time, and a bunch of medication to attempt to make my brain ignore how stressful it all is, pretending to be a peasant is a strangely soothing thing.
Sure, it wasn't easy to be a peasant - especially if I were a female peasant with poor mental health - but by taking aspects of that simpler, pastoral life, we can attempt to create a safe haven for ourselves where the stressors of modern life don't exist.
It's easy to just say that farming and life simulators replicate a simple, kinder world, though. It's not a particularly deep, or new, observation. To go deeper, we have to look at the core loop of these games, also known as a "compulsion loop", a "Skinner box", or even the more colloquial "one more turn" way of thinking that many games rely on to keep players coming back for more.
A Skinner box - known more scientifically as an "operant conditioning chamber" - is a psychological experiment that teaches an animal to perform an action in order to receive a reward like food, water, or attention. Sometimes that action is pressing a button; sometimes it means waiting a fixed (or random) amount of time. The animals will soon start to experience a rush of dopamine - a brain chemical that feels good - in anticipation of the reward, because they've created a neural pathway that associates task completion with something that they like.
One of the most interesting discoveries from Skinner box experiments is that the most successful way to teach an animal to perform a task is the "variable ratio schedule" - essentially, making the effort:reward ratio random. Instead of one reward for every button press, the animal instead gets a reward for 10 presses, then 32, then 1. It keeps them going, because the reward could be the next one. Or the next one. Or the next one.
If you recognise the variable ratio schedule, it might be because gambling is built around the idea that people will always go for "just one more turn". Anyone who's played Tetris well into the early hours of the morning will also know that feeling: when there's minimum investment in each try, the time or money (or number of button presses) that it adds up to in the long run is harder to see.
But another successful teaching method that the Skinner box experiments found is the "fixed ratio schedule", in which the animals received a reward every nth time they performed the action. Not every single time, like teaching a dog to perform a trick by giving it a treat every time it rolls over, but instead every second, fifth, or tenth time. If the animal received a reward every time, they would forget it faster when the rewards were taken away, but with a fixed ratio of effort:reward, they would remember it for longer.
Similarly to the Skinner box experiments, the compulsion loop that most games are built around teaches players to perform tasks in order to get that dopamine hit - with things like loot boxes replicating the variable ratio schedule, and tasks like farming replicating the fixed ratio. A good game has a bit of both: enough randomness to keep them coming back, enough fair reward to make them feel like they're progressing.
Farming and life simulators have an excellent balance of both, plus the added bonus of agency in the form of customisation and marriage candidate choices. In terms of fair, fixed rewards, there are plenty of examples. If you plant and water crops, they will grow. If you sell those crops, you can buy new tools and equipment at exactly the same price that they were yesterday. If you give a thousand eggs to someone, they will eventually love you. If you care for your cows, they will give you good quality milk. Nothing ever really changes - and that's a good thing.
But other tasks - such as mining in the Harvest Moon games, shopping in the Animal Crossing games, or fishing in basically every game ever - are often random. In fact, they're what's called a "variable interval schedule" - you might have to wait ten minutes for a fish, you might have to wait an hour. But it will come. Like the variable ratio schedule, this randomness keeps us coming back for One More Turn, giving us a fresh dopamine hit every time we get the reward of a fish on the hook, or the Grand Piano we've been waiting for at Nook's Cranny in Animal Crossing: New Horizons.
All this psychological manipulation and game design adds up to players feeling in control, even when things are slightly out of our control, because we know where we stand - and in providing us with fixed rewards, we are left feeling as though we are the masters of our own situation, success, and status.
Self-determination theory - another psych term, sorry - states that we, as complex beings, desire three things: competence, autonomy, and relatedness. The ability to thrive, the ability to choose, and the ability to connect with others. In these games, progress is rarely hampered by other people (except when Marnie isn't at work, so you can't buy any animal feed) - we are the masters of our own world. We are competent farmers, because our farm is producing crops. We are autonomous, because we have agency over which crops we plant, and whom we marry. We can form bonds with the townsfolk by giving them gifts and talking to them, and none of them will ever dislike us for no reason.
These games, even in their randomness, are familiar and predictable. By and large, the graph of effort:reward will be pretty much a straight diagonal: what you put in is what you get out.
The world does not work like that. There are too many variables. Whether or not you get a promotion is not a result of filling up an experience point bar; it's dependent on your boss' mood, how young you are, or the fact that the CEO wants his son to take the position instead. That dopamine hit is unpredictable, and often non-existent, because life doesn't run on a tidy schedule. And, although randomness is a great variable for teaching animals to press buttons in a psychological experiment, the best results don't include random cruelty.
Cruelty and unfairness are not good teaching tools. Negative punishment - like having your Game Boy taken away if you misbehave - can be used to instil desired behaviour in people, but not combined with randomness. In fact, it often creates feelings of fear, despondency, and failure in people if done for too long, like a boss who continually denies bonuses, or a parent who cancels planned holidays whenever you get bad grades.
So, in a world where we're often being treated to the worst way to get that dopamine hit, we seek comfort in a game where things work a little more neatly. When we turn on a game like Animal Crossing or Harvest Moon, we have goals, and we have a clear map of how to reach them. All we have to do is walk along the road, and we'll get there. It may not be particularly exciting, or even interesting for most people - but for many, it's a cosy little provider of that sweet, sweet dopamine hit.
Well, that, and you get to make cute boys and girls fall in love with you.
There was a post I remember seeing about 5-6 years ago about why people like these kind of games. It went something like:
"Animal Crossing is popular because it allows people to fulfill the nearly impossible dream of paying off our debt and owning a home."
What I enjoy about the genre is what I usually think of as "base building". I love the long term start from little and build up your own place kind of gameplay. And AC and especially Stardew give you a ton of freedom in how you do that. I like the mechanic so much I even stomached the nastiness of F2P to play Fallout Shelter for a while.
I actually get the same kind of joy from games like Civilization 6 and Star Wars Empire at War Expanded (it's a mod).
And even Minecraft and DQ Builders. I really enjoy games where the objective is more about building.
It's a game of life. A series of self rewarding tasks with a goal of improving you, others and your surroundings. If all folk like is being rewarded for shooting stuff...we are doomed
Sometimes a nice and chill life-sim is preferable to the competitive shooty-shoot bang-bang games that dominate the gaming landscape.
Never liked this kind of games, they seem so slow and boring. I like Civilization, though.
Dunno about Animal Crossing (unless you are a Furry).
But for the others, one word: Shipping.
I like living in a town without rent where I can buy affection with potatoes, mine without permits, kill animals, poison the town and set my dog on the mayor.
Loneliness and a lack of social interaction with real people
I don't know if anyone's familiar with Ursula Le Guin's essay, "The Carrier Bag Theory of Fiction," but it's the first thing I thought of as I read this article.
Short version: most fiction is based on conflict. Shoot those aliens. Beat up those bad guys. But one of humanity's first and most important inventions isn't the spear or the blade, but the container.
And the idea behind Le Guin's essay is that fiction doesn't have to be about beating up the bad guy. Sometimes it can be about filling that container. Discovering new, good things (and, sometimes, bad things), and adding them.
Conflict, after all, tends to be destructive. But taking Thing 1, Thing 2, and Thing 3, and putting them into that Carrier Bag is additive.
That's why I think these games work — for me, at least. Yeah, it's fun to run around blowing stuff up in a Metroidvania or Roguealike — but when I play Animal Crossing or Stardew Valley or Story of Seasons, what I'm doing is making something. Building something. Gathering various somethings into my carrier bag. That's valuable, especially in times when a whole lot of us aren't doing those things in real life.
@Magician exactly. I like stress free games. If they are too difficult, I hope they at least have an easy mode or allow you to,grind. AC is a game that you can play stress free at your o win pace.
Because they are relaxing games. They do not require any skill in order to be good at them. Kids, Adults and Elders can play them without issues.
These psych tricks aren't unique to these chore games, they're ubiquitous, everything from video games to pet training to education to raising a child, it's simply how anyone and anything learns, and you could apply it to any video game genre you find. Still doesn't explain why people are addicted to chore games very well.
Frankly, simplifying video games to medieval chores doesn't remove the stress of modern life to me, that's the kind of stress I'm trying to get away from. So it almost baffles me how people actually like it. The genre that usually serves that role for me is sandbox/open world adventure games, where I can wander around and do whatever I want without having to manage anything.
@Zuljaras I don't know if I would agree that they don't require any skill. But they're definitely more knowledge based than skill based games. It's more about learning what does what and how, than mastering the timing on some button combination.
@ohbalto I think about this a lot. You’ll see the “conflict -> resolution” path in so many aspects of life. Obviously, the essay you mentioned seem to be talking about it’s portrayal in media, but the parallels are uncanny.
PHILOSOPHY NINJA APPROVED
I mostly just like plants.
@Zuljaras Exactly. The low skill requirement helps add to the popularity. In the Dark Souls forums it’s all “git gud,” and such. Never heard anyone say that about animal crossing, heh.
RELAXING GAME NINJA APPROVED
I love Stardew Valley because unlike my real job which has some stress every day I can boot up Stardew Valley and feel like I am accomplishing something without ever feeling stressed. It is the perfect relaxing experience, and I suppose I love the idea of living in a small town and just having a simple carefree life without the worries that real life carries with it.
To be honest there's really no real goals in these games.
You can (almost) do whatever you want in them.
@ImBackBB Totally get that, and for many people that's really a fun thing. Just do what you want. Weirdly, I do better when a game has a somewhat clear goal, I find that more enjoyable.
Exactly, games for the casuals or those that have time to kill.
For me.its.the grind. I like working at something and then seeing what I unlock and want new skill, item etc I can play with now.
An excellent and insightful read.
Compulsive gameplay loops in games that are also accessible in that they have a very approachable design. (cute/easy on the eyes graphics, no sense of urgency in gameplay aka no challenge or time limits, simple/non confusing mechanics...) On top of that, they have a lot of content which lends itself well to exploration and increases the longevity of the game. This creates a perfect mix and is the reason why games like Stardew Valley and Animal Crossing are so popular.
I actually loathe Animal Crossing. The 10 hours I played of Wild World were sooooo boring.
I like farming and life sims for a number of reasons. Much like the creator of bokumono I come from a rural area so it gives me a piece of home without having the drawbacks of living in a rural area.
Life sims (more the sims than farming sims although that is changing) also allow me to reflect my world without the hatred, danger, micro-aggressions and isolation that can accompany living as a minority in my home country. Wanting to be left alone and treated fairly is often something that some have to fight for and it’s nice to have a game where that is just a human right rather than something governed by politics and people that I don’t even know.
It’s kinda funny in a sad way but having a safe, normal life free of hatred is my power fantasy. Some folks want to be super heroes or soldiers...me, I just want peace. Let me live a decent, honorable life, with the woman I love by my side and have no one, absolutely no one care. Only possible in video games.
The gameplay loop for these types of games games is often more satisfying than a traditional RPG, which relies on stat growth and an element of randomness. I can grind in FE and have my unit gain a dud level, but my crops and animals are consistent. There is a sense of constant, meaningful growth. Even better it is growth not centered on conflict or destruction.
I would have to say that I would like to see more games like Sakuna as the stability and visible results of the gathering and farming feed directly into the action elements, making it the most enjoyable RPG I have ever played. The gameplay loop is never boring or surprising which allows me to enjoy the action and story more.
My roommate just started a farm for his first playthrough, I've only played a few years into the game before, but now I'm starting again in co op with my girlfriend and have been having a blast. Chuckfish truly is a legend.
These games are not for me. My kids enjoy Stardew Valley, but I just cannot get into it. I'm already doing these things in real life. I like games to be an escape, not more of the same.
I understand the gameplay loop of Stardew Valley/Harvest Moon, but I just don't even see gameplay in Animal Crossing. At least New Horizons looks like it has more than any of the previous games, but AC still needs a bit more gameplay than it has for me to really give it a shot. If I want the life simulator, I'll just play Stardew, and if I want the customization, I'll just play Minecraft, both of which have a lot more gameplay than AC has ever had.
I've enjoyed both, but prefer other games. My 8 year old daughter however LOVES these games - she's not played many games, but really started in earnest with Animal Crossing and has recently moved onto Stardew Valley. We play other games together such as Mario Kart and co-ops like Overcooked, but it's really these games that she comes back to. I think it's a combination of a doll's house-style world - where you have a degree of control whilst others live their lives around you - and the lack of pressure that these games project which is the reason.
I think another aspect is that most workers feel alienated from the fruits of their labor they feel like cogs in a machine. In these games the fruit of the player's labor is theirs in whole to do with as they desire.
SDV is my current “relax” game. I usually have 3 games in rotation - something action, something turn based, and something relax. SDV is awesome to wind down with after a long / stressful day, and doesn’t feel like work at all. AC in the past hasn’t felt like work either, but for some reason ACNH felt like a chore for the first 6 months of its release.... after my SDV run I’m going to restart my ACNH town and hopefully there’s enough fresh content and such to not feel like a chore anymore.
Rune Factory is another series like this. It's my favorite Fantasy Life/RPG game
I don't enjoy farming sim games or life management sim games... I already deal with resource management and day to day tedium... let me hunt down some werewolves in Yharnam, or paraglide from a mountaintop in Hyrule. Plant, water, and wait for potatoes? Hard pass.
Also geez I am old enough that y’all are pulling out B*Witched references? C’est la vie.
(If Spice Girls references start flying, I am checking into the old folks home)
why l enjoy them just not NH. Its because I can run a town, build a village, farming, talking to other people who live in your town, stardew is relaxing, like all the animals the forest like, the music, talking animals, design your house inside, and really l just like the fact that you can check on the game every each day with a new day, stardew time does goes by quickly xD, but yeah that's why l like AC older games and Stardew Valley. Terraria is a different story ofc
When I first got Animal Crossing way back in 2002, there were a few things that stuck out to me:
-No fighting/action, and aside from bugs/fish no reliance on reflexes. Thus, less stress.
-Focus on creativity.
-Focus on making friends with the villagers.
On the last point, it takes me back to Majora's Mask, which I had played before Animal Crossing. One thing I loved about MM was how much we could interact with the citizens, learn their schedules/lives, and help them. MM was much, much deeper, had a very special way of doing that and making you care for the characters, BUT it's still present in Animal Crossing and I loved it.
Animal Crossing was the very first time I felt like a game was made for me. Stereotypical for a woman to say, I suppose. I loved plenty of games before, but Animal Crossing hit a special note and always has. Along with The Sims which I got into a couple of years after AC.
ACNH is the only game I’ve played in this genre of pocket utopias. Having total control of your island where nothing can go wrong, no effort is fruitless, and being adored by a bunch of huggable critter neighbors was obviously appealing, especially last year. The collectathon aspect kept me playing for hundreds of hours.
Interesting read. I personally find these games boring and regret buying ACNH, but I totally get why people love them.
Now bring me Bloodborne 2
To each their own. I can’t get into them. My daughter is in love with animal crossing.
Good article, and an interesting look into why people might like these games. Me personally, Stardew Valley is the only game of its type where I was interested and wanted to keep playing. I can't quite put it into tangible words as to why I enjoy it.
I did buy New Horizons after constantly avoiding Animal Crossing due to never seeing the appeal whenever I saw the trailer. I remember being frustrated at not knowing what to do at the start to explore the island, to slowly figuring out what to do and building up the island, to getting bored when I realised all I had done for the last few days was check turnip prices and obtain the nookmile login bonus. Nothing actually interested me about buying any items with the bells/points, as I was not interested in "making an ideal home/island" and any incentive for me to want to 100% the game went out the window when I realised that content is locked based on calendar month and time on the system. Sure, you could change the time but that just felt like busy work. The villagers I honestly couldn't care for either; they didn't feel as if they were contributing anything. Nook expects you to practically manage the island for him pro bono. Why the heck did I pay for this package again?
I am not sure I will ever understand the appeal for Animal Crossing. I thought I was beginning to at one point, but no.
I like Life Sim games such as The Sims, ACNL & ACNH, Bokumono games as it stimulate my Right brain to explore my ideas. I love to work with design and beauty as i like to draw and design my own projects.
And thus i also like Rhythm games, games for my Left and Right brain.
@kategray who is your stardew spouse tho?
I feel like you can learn more about someone from their Stardew spouse than so called tests like Meyers-Briggs, Astrology, or Criminal Background Checks
Calm and relaxing experience rather than most stress filled games.
i like the days in a harvest moon more than animal crossing. in animal crossing especially new horizons the progress is so slow and after a week it just becomes more of a chore than fun to play animal crossing. but in harvest moon and other games like it you can do multiple days in a day and it keeps progression moving.
agree about ac i just do not get crafting. you do not have to be minecraft ac. i hated grinding for materials to get shops. and it jsut felt like gathering wood and stuff was put in there just to increase playtime but not into a good way. it feels more grindy than past ac
The opening bit about bread seems a little off.
Part of the reason people got so into baking bread was because early in the pandemic you could NOT buy bread. People were hoarding it. Then so many people got into baking that you couldn't find flour. Among other staples.
I love stardew because there are little mini-goals for each day. Maybe I’ll try to get x many fish or I try to get to x level of the mines.
One of the games I picked up last year was Two Point Hospital. I didn't get fanatically into it, but it was an entertaining diversion and I still like to putter around in it.
When I mentioned this at work in one of the endless "what are we all playing now" conversations (we ALL play video games), my coworkers all looked at me like I was absolutely bonkers.
The thing is, I work in a hospital. (An animal hospital, but it's pretty much just like a human hospital, just with more biting.) None of my friends could understand how I could finish a shift and head home to relax with a simulation of the exact same things I just finished doing. And I admit, it doesn't seem to make much sense. Video games are a mental escape, so why was I escaping into a world so closely resembling my actual job?
I think the main answer is that Two Point Hospital is hilarious, but aside from that, it's a simplified fantasy version of what I do for a living. The stakes are low because nobody cares if your patients die in a video game, and if your hospital is a spectacular failure you can just restart the game. And if you do well, you are instantly rewarded with gold stars, raises for everyone and shiny hospital upgrades. In real life, being a veterinary nurse is heartbreaking, stressful and not relaxing. (Rewarding? Yes. Relaxing? Ha ha, no, not even a little bit.) 2PH simplifies everything and takes away the stress factor, and it gives you bite-sized goals that you can achieve and then walk away. One goal leads to another, and your hospital gets better and fancier until ultimately you win (and get to manage a bigger hospital).
I'm pretty sure farming and life sims do the exact same thing for other people, simplifying their real life goals into little bite-sized challenges and giving them instant rewards for every bit of work they put in. In real life, relationships are hard work and you're never guaranteed success. In Story of Seasons, you can pretty much win anyone's love by finding one thing they like and giving it to them every week. In real life, paying off your mortgage takes 20-30 years of hard work, but in AC you can do it in one season. That's a tremendous fantasy trip for most of us.
I have played many games, from fighting games to metroidvanias and open world games with lots or action and exploration, and you'll usually see me playing one of those, but both Rune Factory 4 and and Animal Crossing have connected with me while many other similar games have failed. RF4 is easier to get since it does offer action and exploration as well as rpg mechanics. Now the thing about Animal Crossing and these games in general is that they are a zen-like experience IF they click with you or the most boring thing if they don't.
When it comes to Animal Crossing, it's the combination of many elements that managed to get to me, from visuals to having villagers that you recruit which is a thing that reminds me of monster collecting games, and those are among my favourite games. Chores simply fall in this repetitive but pleasant loop and are never obligatory, so I don't feel the anxiety that many here feel when they find that this game follows it's own pace so that players slowly discover the game.
When I play it, it's not about what I will accomplish, it's about the changes and experiences that I will get (as small as they are) just as with my daily days. Little details like a villager calling me their BFF are amazing since they manage to capture those small sweet moments from life, and they come on small doses but enough to make me play them regularly so that I don't miss them.
Personally I have played the game a couple hundred hours, so I don't get how people see "everything" and find lots of repetition in less time when I constantly have new experiences and conversations and that without adding interacting with other people.
@KillerBOB I literally play these games with my partner
@JackDeschain But bread becomes stale after few days, that was point in hoarding it? Toilet paper at least can wait few months.
@alecseus People freeze it. Chest freezers and upright freezers are fairly common if you own or even rent a house. At least in the US. It's especially true if you live out in the country like I do.
Yep, this was exactly the thing... people were bulk buying and freezing all kinds of things. And not just with bulk buying, either... on the rare occasions that a box of eggs would become available, my wife would bake cakes and then freeze them! 😆
Thanks for the explanation folks.
In my country people mainly freeze meat, veggies and some types of fruits.
A big reason on the Switch is it's diverse demographic, you have the core who like the more traditional goal based games, then you have a much bigger more casual gamer who likes games that let you play them at your own pace, and their goals will differ from player to player.
@KillerBOB Ouch, that's quite the truth bomb.
Why people play these games? People play them because they got too much time, especially during the pandemic lockdown.
I think you are confusing truth with opinions.
“With More biting “ ... not just “with”, but more- both funny and so so true.
It’s nice to read your experience. I found that same “game made for me” feeling with the old NES Metroid bc it has a password to play as a woman. It became a place to explore rather than a place to shoot everything for me.
The pandemic would have boosted all types of games, so while it has created more interest, there was always a big interest there in the first place.
There has been talk these games (AC, Stardew, etc. ) Have no wrong way to play - Yet the evidence of this is often descriptions of players using these games within the anticipated parameters of the designers and simply not maximizing efficiency etc.
Perhaps many games fit this type, and many do it better...
Don’t many other games fit the play it your way ethos better? for example:
Didn’t anyone else wander the halls of Metroid pretending to be a scientist and never using the weapons against any creatures? You can bring animals through the doors in that game and thus have a “pet.”
There is even hidden out of bounds areas in this game to explore.
Loving the B*Witched reference. Used to mournfully look out the window at nothing to that song when I was a grumpy teenager.
@johnvboy Ouch, another truth bomb, and I accept
However I do think there is some truth to what he said, even if your playing with your partner etc. I think it's a bit like soap operas - they can provide a more interesting 'life' with less effort than it takes to build those aspect into your actual interactions. Or those aspects of your game life are simply not a possibility for you in your daily life.
I think to deny at least a little truth to what @killerbob said is I think worthy of some challenge. Anyway it's not presented as a criticism just more observational, and of course in reality the reasons why such a type of game is of interest to someone is multifold and can contain one or both of positive and negative motivating factors.
For me, I've enjoyed both AC and SV quite a bit - but just for a while - they can't hold me longterm and find the mundane tasks such as buying clothes and caring about 'fashion' to be extremely dull and almost offensive in a video game - and I don't like things like fishing on principle - but that's me and a bit generational maybe. If there is a suggestion in a game of dating or marrying someone then that game can f.r.off. For me thats not a video game. For me video games must contain at least an element of escapism. If it's too close to real life activities then I'm not sure about it.
I'm semi/reasonably intelligent I think, but also simple in my tastes and for me video games are at their 'purest essence' when they have elements of what traditional games had - arcadey, shooty, racey, jumpy fun with a bit of pace to it. That's not all I play, but I'm definitely more arcade in my tastes. I recently went back to play some Tempest 2000/X3/TxK and I couldn't believe how much fun those games were compared to some modern titles - like for instance, AC dare I say. Sure, sure they are incredibly different games, but if a game doesn't prioritise fun over 'stuff to do' then what the heck is the games industry doing?
But in truth all game can sometimes feel like work. For instance I'm playing through Shovel Knight Treasure Trove at the moment (on a Vita) and it can be brutal in parts, and I think 'why the hell I'm I putting myself through all this'. When it's really difficult I do wonder if the 'fun in the challenge' is true, or whether games in general are just not much fun really - and I'd be better moving on to other activities in my life. I've been a gamer most of my life and therefore supposedly I enjoy it – but sometimes all games can feel like a chore/work. Not just AC.
Games I actively avoid now are games with very complex systems and menus such as deep RPG and Strategy games. Not because I can't get my head around them but because sometimes figuring out a games complexities is a bit too close to learning something like Photoshop or even Excel! - menus, menus, menus. I'm a graphic designer and Illustrator by trade so I'll be damned if I'm going to leisure time something that is close to the activities I do during work hours. For that reason stuff like Civilisation and most turn-based stuff is out for me too.
Anyway at the end of the day if someone find some enjoyment in a game I'm happy for them. Nuff said
@brunojenso Replying to myself - what a ruddy wind bag! That was my longest post ever. Sorry guys.
I agree with you on AC. I bought it, played it, "beat" the parts like maxing out my house, but once I do that I have zero interest in continuing to build my town or doing mundane tasks. I couldn't imagine putting 300hrs+ into any game, let alone one like that
Guys? did you know Kate plays Valheim because I sure didn't
@GannonBanned I married Leah because she's cute, but I courted Sebastian in my second playthrough
...what does that say about me?
@Phantom_Skye I can't tell if you're being sarcastic or not! I talk about Valheim a lot on here, even though it's not on Switch 😅
A great read. Though I have realised that games give me more dopamine than the real world, is that ok though. Will play a bit of star dew later xx
And that’s just in the first 30 minutes of game play.
I've been playing Animal Crossing since the gamecube.
it was more of a relaxing game for me to play, and not worried about action and such.
i remember how i was having trouble beating cretin parts of Timesplitters: Future Perfect or Smash Bros Melee, and than i would always go play Animal Crossing on the gamecube for hours during the weekend, and would play them until 2AM and than go straight to bed. or after school i would play Animal Crossing most of my time. ah, childhood
sadly, i lost the memory card that had my Animal Crossing data on it. ,
@KateGray interesting, you found desire in the two people who feel as though they are isolated from the community due to their non-traditional artistic leanings (Leah being a transplant who sculpts beautifully, lives in a fairy tale cottage on the outskirts. Sebastian as a sushi loving basement dwelling white hat who dreams of motorcycle nights in the big city to escape a well meaning but overly traditional stepfather).
Both people wish to be saved from a controlling aspect of their lives, whether an ex or their parents, but still find small pockets of trusted friends in their community to survive day to day and never give up on their inspirations even without overt support from the usual places.
That reads you as someone who feel appreciation and love for those who recognize your uniquities (fake word that just makes sense) as a strength of character and not flawed individualism, and a wish to show other people that their traits can be loved.
Also, since you mainly picked Leah because she’s cute and never sealed the deal with Sebastian, you got a little “hot girl summer” vibes, at least when dealing with role-playing fake people.
All in all, your video game character analysis is:
“Empathic dreamer who kept their chrysalis in a box even though they don’t miss being in it at all”
*This system has not been approved by the International Video Game Armchair Psychology Union (Local 546 let’s goooooo)
@GannonBanned I love it! I think you're definitely right in that I like a character who takes a while to open up, and isn't just nice to you right off the bat. Also, I like that I have "hot girl summer" vibes, haha
I think that's a very insightful read, good job!
Me waiting for Rune Factory 5 like (0o0)
For people who have disabilities or medical/mental health problems that limit their activities and ability to work, these games allow them to feel more productive. The mental and emotional rewards of labor can come from a virtual world, and the effects on the brain can be just as rewarding. My mental health has increased by playing these games and succeeding in a way that I am physically unable to in the real world. Riding my horse around Stardew Valley gives me so much joy. It's something that I used to do before I became disabled. These games help millions of people lead richer lives, and it's important that the positive effects on the brain are recognized and talked about.
@KateGray Interesting article produces interesting comment section. I hope the effort to reward ratio for this kind of article in the future is 1:1... at minimum. 😁
EDIT: You're a fan of DQ Builders, no? Will you have an article for us about games like the aforesaid, Terraria and that other one people seem to like?
@COVIDberry honestly, I feel like this month is going to make me sick of farming/crafting games for a while, so maybe not 😅
the idea behind Le Guin's essay is that fiction doesn't have to be about beating up the bad guy. Sometimes it can be about filling that container. Discovering new, good things (and, sometimes, bad things), and adding them.
Conflict, after all, tends to be destructive. But taking Thing 1, Thing 2, and Thing 3, and putting them into that Carrier Bag is additive.
@ohbalto Thanks for your comment. Would that people saw their own minds this way! For, in fact, the analogy holds pretty well for the brain...
I feel like you can learn more about someone from their Stardew spouse than so called tests like Meyers-Briggs, Astrology, or Criminal Background Checks
@GannonBanned I get the feeling you've tried all of these.
That aside, the best intelligence about truly knowing a person that I have ever received was this: don't marry someone until you see what he/she is like in a canoe. A couple that can paddle together, take turns at the bow and stern, and be at peace with each other and the water, already has more than a fighting chance.
@COVIDberry haha I work in tech/software management so understanding what your alignment is on some quantifiable scale is very important for your work mindfulness ETC. in the eyes of VP types
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