My thought process for choosing this game was pretty straightforward: fall is a time of harvest, some sort of game where I’m harvesting makes sense, so why not play Stardew Valley? I’ve fallen head over heels for sandbox games, yet never played Harvest Moon. And Stardew Valley is an indie game originally made by one person. It ticks every box.
Alas, it also ticks one more: colonialism. The game gives you a farm once owned by a grandparent, for free, and allows you to develop the place into whatever farm or mining business you want. The context and location sound very North American, which implies there were once First Nations people on that land (though apparently the game actually takes place in Russia?). In reality, if you’re stuck in a soul-sucking job there’s no shortage of options to wiggle out, like starting up an art collective or striking for improved work conditions; in game, though, your “choice” is either to remain in stasis or move into someone else’s place. The game never gives you that choice, though, the moment you gain control of your character is the moment after you’ve taken over this new space. To add insult to injury, you’re still not free of capitalism; oh no, you’ll spend a fair bit of time finding ways to earn cash to trade for goods and services, planting the seeds of your old society in this new space.
This doesn’t make the game any less fun, but it also lingers over it like a faint smell. On Saturday December 5th, at 10:00 AM MDT, I’ll be both enjoying and dissecting this game on my Twitch channel. If you like the concept, consider donating to our fundraiser. It’ll help pay off the legal fees we’re still paying thanks to Richard Carrier. Alternatively, toss some money at Skepticon to pay off their Carrier-related bills. No funds? Not a problem, though you might want to read this to get into the spirit of things.