Gameplay Journal Entry #7

The political game that I decided to review for this journal is Stardew Valley. Stardew Valley is a peaceful Farming sim that takes place in a remote town in Stardew Valley. You inherit the farm in the game from your grandfather and your goal is to rebuild what he left for you. As you get more and more acquainted with the town, you find that a supermarket company is trying to take over the town and they want to get rid of the traditional ways of the town to replace them with more corporate and modern ways. The player must decide throughout the time of their game whether they want to side with the towns traditional ways or side with the corporate supermarket.

This story narrative forces the player to make a moral decision, side with the town and continue the way they always have for years or side with the supermarket so that the town can get more money and resources but lose their way of life. While both playing Stardew Valley and watching playthroughs of the game, I can see this choice being one driven by ones personal political views. A player that is more in favor of modernism and technological progression would most likely choose to side with the supermarket and vice versa with a player that is more in favor of traditional values.

While this game forces the player to make moral decisions, these decisions don’t impact the ending of the game. Although not clearly stated, the games “end” is creating a fully maxed out and efficient farm. These moral decisions only get the player to think more politically throughout the game. It challenges the players beliefs in a scenario that more directly effects them then it would in real life. This is why these decisions don't effect the game directly, the game is meant to be enjoyed and completed by the players means while also having a strong narrative that guides them through it. One quote from Jonathan Belman and Mary Flanagan sums up this concept very well, “One strategy that particularly resonated with students was the idea of making a game that is unwinnable, or in which the win state is unconventional. This feature is often used when a game models some intractable real world conflict, and therefore providing an in-game solution would seem to trivialize the issue” (Exploring the Creative Potential of Values Conscious Design: Students’ Experiences with the Values at Play Curriculum, 57–67).