I recently arrived home from a trip to the USA and came back feeling quite overwhelmed, unsure and afraid of what direction my life needed to take. I’d just spent just over three weeks traveling over the country attending blockchain conferences, music festivals and art shows — I was so inspired yet so intimidated by everyone I’d come across.
I needed a way to unwind to keep my mind from digging myself into a quarter life crisis and what better way to distract yourself than playing video games. I used to think playing these seemingly arbitrary games was a complete waste of time that could be better off spent towards hours in the real world. However, I decided to let go of all resistance and pick up my Nintendo Switch that hadn’t been touched in over two years.
Now.. What game do I play? There’s too many options — usually the same thing happens when I try to watch Netflix and end up not wanting to watch anything at all at the thought of choosing the wrong show. But after watching a few ‘Top 10 Nintendo Switch games of all time’ videos on YouTube a certain game with an art style reminiscent of my informative years playing Pokémon on the DS had happened to stand out to me. This game was Stardew Valley and from what I gathered the game was a cross between Farm Simulator and Animal Crossing.
It was the exact world I wanted to venture into far away from this one. Ironically though I found myself completing the same mundane tasks as I would out here in the real world — I’d work, buy things, upgrade my stats, go on quests and get to know the NPCs. The only difference? I was enjoying it. There technically is no real aim to the game itself which is where I began drawing similarities to what it’s like in our world.
No one really knows why we’re here and what we’re supposed to do and even I beat myself up at times for not having my ten-year plan figured out. But that’s not the point — you’re supposed to be confused on how to complete the next quest, you’re supposed to upgrade your character exactly how you want and customize your home with cool little trinkets you found on the other side of the map. It’s not that serious, it’s just a game. This is why I think it’s so easy to enjoy any of these life simulator games because you can see tangible progress — you know how long you have until you level up or get the next upgrade. You set little goals for yourself even if they seem silly, like saving up for a rare limited edition cactus painting you can hang in your house.
I’ve begun looking at the world around me as if it were a super advanced video game with nearly every feature and emotion imaginable. There are an infinite amount of ways to play the game and there’s no such thing as the right way. We all spawn in different locations with different tools and abilities but it’s about learning to navigate the unknown. Each journey is relative to the player; what you find challenging might come easy to others and vice versa.
And yes, some people use cheat codes to skip levels and upgrade their in-game currency but one thing that I know is that GTA got pretty boring when I was able to buy anything in the game. I guess this is just my less-corny way to spin the journey, not the destination trope in a way that I can relate to. Not to mention but some of my most memorable and most rewarding experiences in-game have been playing multiplayer with my friends even if that meant talking absolute garbage for hours on end. To keep things short, the choice is yours and even if you don’t max out your character don’t discount all the little things you did achieve — even the smallest things matter.
Play the game.