Playing farmer: At the intersections of neo-liberal capitalism and ecocriticism in Stardew Valley | Intellect Skip to content
1981
Volume 15, Issue 1
  • ISSN: 1757-191X
  • E-ISSN: 1757-1928

Abstract

Eric Barone’s 2016 indie ‘country life simulator’ video game has yet to be evaluated through the dual lenses of neo-liberal capitalism and ecocriticism. Given his intention for the game to have real-world messages, including the importance of community organization against corporate domination and of environmental conservation, there is a need to evaluate the intent and execution of his vision to determine if the resulting gameplay truly conveys those messages to his audience. This article draws on neo-liberal capitalist video game theory, or the simulation of capitalist circuits in video games as theorized by Kline and Golumbia, and ecocritical video game theory, or environmental modelling strategies in video games as discussed by Chang and Condis, to argue that video games are political texts, that the game mechanics within demonstrate the process-oriented ‘work as play’ mentality that simulates capitalist circuits and that the misrepresentation of environmentality through selective reproduction of real-world processes detrimentally impacts the agency and responsibility of consumers of video games. After engaging in an analysis of Barone’s representations of the in-game economy and environment via the player character’s origin story, methods of production, community organization and environmental interactions, this article concludes with a final discussion about the limitations of video game design, defence of Barone’s intent and execution and submission of suggestions for improvement and reflections on future study.

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2023-06-06
2024-05-24
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