Review: Enjoy the Pastoral Fantasy of Beecoming a Beekeeper in APICO

Review: Enjoy the Pastoral Fantasy of Beecoming a Beekeeper in APICO

I’m both a sucker for a cozy crafting sim and an aspiring beekeeper to boot, so I couldn’t resist APICO, a beekeeping simulator from TNgineers and Whitethorn Games, whose Steam tagline is “Stress-free games for nervous people.” How could I resist the promise of something stress-free and targeted at me, a nervous person?

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Exploring My Queerness in Pelican Town

Exploring My Queerness in Pelican Town

Stardew Valley is a farming and life simulation game created by Eric Barone (ConcernedApe). The player plays as someone who leaves their soul-crushing job at a big corporation, Joja, to take over the farm their grandfather left them in his will. What sets Stardew Valley apart is how deep the story is. There are many secrets to unlock about the town while befriending, and potentially romancing, the NPCs. Yes, farming is fun. And there are other activities like mining and repairing the town’s Community Center with the help of some forest spirits called Junimos. But you don’t have to do any of that. If you want to just run around and befriend everyone you can do that too. (more…)

May Roundtable: Growth and Gardening

May Roundtable: Growth and Gardening

As the common adage goes, April showers bring May flowers. So, naturally, this month we’re talking about gardening and growth in games, and maybe interpreting that a little loosely because why not? Why be beholden to a single definition of a word? May is also the month of May Day, encompassing both the Pagan celebration of the beginning of summer and International Labor Day, which brings attention to labor rights, worker exploitation, and the various and extensive problems with capitalism the world over. So let’s not limit ourselves to what it means to garden in a game—let’s think about planting and growth in all their forms! (more…)

Stardew Valley Mods for 2022 (and Beyond)

Stardew Valley Mods for 2022 (and Beyond)

Earlier this year, having played through the new update for Stardew Valley on my Switch and wanting a bit more, I decided to check into Stardew‘s modding community. I’ve done modding in a couple of other games over the years, tinkering directly with game code, so I was surprised to find that modding Stardew Valley is as easy as dragging and dropping folders. I was also surprised to find a vibrant, diverse, and friendly modding community, still going very strong five years after the game’s initial release. But perhaps the most surprising thing: all of the mod recommendation lists hadn’t been updated in three years or more, offering mods that are broken or outdated for the current 1.5.5 version. So, in the interest of being the change I want to see in the world, I’ve put together a sampling of my favorites that have been released or updated in the last year, all compatible with the 1.5.5 release. (more…)

Wooing Leah: Cleaning and Domesticity in Stardew Valley and Real Life

Wooing Leah: Cleaning and Domesticity in Stardew Valley and Real Life

About a week after we returned from our honeymoon, my cute new husband took it upon himself to install a dozen hooks above the oven. Upon these hooks, we would hang our pans and coffee mugs, and also our hopes and dreams. We had spent the last year apathetic about our messy nest, unable to do much of anything, much less something so ambitious as hanging cup hooks. We’d watched spills on our two-degree-tilted counter drip slowly from sink to floor over the course of hours. We’d accumulated mournful cabinets overflowing with plastic takeout containers that we could not bear to recycle. But now, there could be cup hooks! (more…)