The Best Ways To Beat A Stardew Valley Addiction
Stardew Valley the retro simulation RPG was released back in February 2016 where it would reach so much success that it would be ported onto many major gaming consoles. The premise of the game is to live a basic farm life on the land that you have inherited from your recently deceased grandfather. The game isn’t renowned for intricate mechanics but rather for its minimalistic aesthetic and simple gameplay. It has drawn in over 15 million players over the years looking to escape when they “feel crushed by the burden of life” a powerful line that coincides with the way some gaming addicts feel.
Hence, in this article, we are going to discuss some of the best ways to overcome an addiction to Stardew Valley and reclaim the life you deserve.
What Makes Stardew Valley So Addictive?
For those who are addicted to Stardew Valley, it is often difficult to take a step back and realise why the game has such a hold over you. Understanding the addictive qualities of the game is important as many video games follow these principles to keep players coming back for more. While we do believe that this is not done with malicious intent, knowing what to look out for can be a great place to start when overcoming an addiction to video games.
Stardew Valley certainly qualifies as a wholesome game. As players are aware living out the lifestyle of a young, humble farmer building up his land and giving back to the community is a very noble and enjoyable way of life. The idea of immersing yourself in a simplistic lifestyle where none of the troubles of everyday life can burden you is one of the main reasons people develop an addiction to this game. Not to mention the retro 8-bit animation style of the game which adds a layer of nostalgia bringing players back to simpler times of their childhood when all games looked like this.
Sadly a major contributing factor to Stardew Valley addiction is some gamers’ desire to immerse themselves in video games to avoid problems they are facing in the real world. Video game addiction has shown relationships with comorbid conditions such as depression, anxiety and ADHD speculating that it is based on the desire to immerse themselves and avoid the issues they are dealing with. This escapism is also exhibited by people who are undergoing a lot of stress and dissatisfaction with their situation so they seek immersion and escape.
The problem is when individuals run from problems using video games as opposed to finding healthy and more sustainable methods of treatment they exacerbate their addiction. Overwhelming and negative thoughts become more intense without video games to cope and hence they require more video games to overcome them the only way they know how.
Sense Of Accomplishment
Stardew Valley is certainly a reward-motivated game. There aren’t any difficult controls and complex mechanics to master within the game to experience that sense of accomplishment. Rather it comes from the gradual and extremely satisfying growth of your farm. Taking inspiration from many other games in the past such as Minecraft, Animal Crossing and Terraria. Characters work towards upgrading various tools and equipment in order to boost productivity. The grand reward at the end of the harvest comes in the form of a huge bulk sale to the local market to acquire copious amounts of in-game money.
However, this is just one satisfying element of the game. Many people find the motivation to invest their efforts into a plethora of money makers going to the lengths to start multiple different save files for different types of farms. Ultimately one thing remains consistent in Stardew Valley’s gameplay and that is the sense of accomplishment and measurable growth. As humans, we have a natural need and inclination to achieve difficult tasks in order to feel satisfied and productive. Video games offer people an easy and enjoyable way to feel this accomplishment which often fuels their addiction.
Why would someone want to spend months studying for an exam or building a business when they could feel the same level of satisfaction if not more instant gratification from playing video games. As part of any video game addiction self-help program, it is essential to find more productive ways to invest your time and energy to become more accomplished in the real world as opposed to the virtual one.
Co-op Social Interaction
Another addictive feature of Stardew Valley is the option to play online with friends. You can play locally with other devices in your household or around the world with friends wherever they may be. Working together to virtually build a farm sounds like a fun bonding experience that millions of players enjoy so much. Video games are becoming an essential part of socialisation as gamer friends can interact from the comfort of their own homes. More and more you’ll find kids rushing home from school and adults hurrying home from work to relax and unwind with some video games.
Although this may have its social benefits in the realm of video game addiction this can be detrimental. Social interaction through video games can start to become substituted for real-life interactions with friends. Humans need social interaction, therefore engaging with people using the anonymity of the internet can be very appealing for individuals that are shy or suffer from social anxiety and easily lead to them ignoring real life friends for their online ones.
However, people without any underlying conditions are also susceptible to this behaviour as one of the major symptoms of video game addiction is damage to relationships. This often comes from the negligence of loved ones in order to continue playing video games with online friends
Hence a common symptom of video game addiction is social isolation and damage to relationships. But we’ll get onto this a little bit later.
Symptoms Of Stardew Valley Addiction
Sometimes it can be difficult to tell at what point playing video games becomes an addiction, particularly for the person experiencing it. Most of the time the problematic behaviour is noticed by loved ones close to them before it is brought to the addict’s attention. Some of the symptoms of video game addiction other than playing excessively can be quite subtle to identify. Thus here are some of the main symptoms of video game addiction to help diagnose your Stardew Valley addiction.
Loss of Interest In Previous Hobbies
Stardew begins to cut into the other personal interests the player used to have. Not just due to the excessive amount of playing but also due to a lack of satisfaction when doing any other activities. The addicted brain becomes excited by the idea of playing the game while other hobbies fall by the wayside. It is not uncommon to hear stories of video game addicts skipping school or getting fired from their jobs due to their unhealthy obsession with the game.
Hence it’s easy to see how recreational things such as sports and social clubs can be neglected as people who suffer from video game addiction often forsake important responsibilities for gaming.
Lying To Others To Conceal Gaming Habits
Addiction usually comes with a great deal of guilt and shame that causes affected individuals to be isolated in the best of times. When it comes to video game addiction these negative feelings tend to be amplified due to the stigma and misunderstanding around the addiction. Many people feel as if they are not dealing with a real problem and should be able to give up whenever they want.
This often leads to addicts lying about their gaming habits and how long they play in order to preserve their image. Sadly this outlook prevents many people suffering from video game addiction from reaching out for the help they need. It’s important to understand that needing help to overcome a gaming addiction is not uncommon and using it to get better is not an embarrassing thing to do.
Sleep Problems and Insomnia
Connections between insomnia and video game addiction have been made for some time now and research is still ongoing. We might have all seen or even participated in a late-night gaming binge and felt terrible the next day but for some, this is an everyday occurrence. When immersed in a video game we lose track of time, not to mention when joined by the company of friends the comradery can be persuasive and ultimately result in some poor decisions.
However gaming before bed is scientifically proven to delay sleep as the high stimulation we feel when playing releases adrenaline, our bodies fight or flight chemical. If you’re an avid Stardew Valley player you might understand the tense feeling of your character rushing home with a sliver of energy left trying to make it before you pass out and lose your day’s earnings. The release of adrenaline and cortisol delay our sleep by raising our body temperature and keeping us alert. As well as this it slows the production of melatonin our natural sleep hormone that makes us tired when it’s time for bed.
Staring at a screen before bed also reduces melatonin production due to the blue light emissions. Blue light is a frequency that all screens give off that has been shown to delay melatonin production again making it harder to get to bed.
When we put all of this together it’s clear to see how those who are addicted to video games often suffer from sleep problems and poor circadian rhythms.
Other Symptoms Of Stardew Valley Addiction
We have only outlined a few symptoms in detail but here are some more common symptoms of video game addiction to be aware of:
- Damage to relationships
- Lack of energy and motivation
- Poor performance at work/school
- Obsessive thinking about Stardew Valley
- Agitation and anxiety when not playing
- Repetitive strain injuries
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms it is important to consider seeking help. The World Health Organisation explains that the criteria for video game addiction are significant impairment of educational, occupational, social and other important areas of functioning due to excessive video games over a 12 month period. Hence, it’s important to monitor how these behaviours manifest over time.
How to Treat A Stardew Valley Addiction
Many people who struggle with a Stardew Valley addiction might have attempted to quit or cut down on their own but were unsuccessful for various reasons. In this section, we are going to run through some of the clinically proven methods used to help individuals overcome their video game addiction.
CBT stands for Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and is one of the leading video game addiction treatments. CBT explains that our thoughts, feelings and the way that we act are all intimately linked. Therefore if we can change one for the better the rest will follow. Hence CBT is used by therapists and healthcare professionals to treat many mental health conditions based on this principle. If we can change and improve the negative thoughts that lead to our addiction we can ultimately act and feel healthier.
One CBT practise that we recommend is Journaling. There are many different types of journaling exercises but today’s focus is going to be on Trigger Journaling. It’s likely that as a video game addict you’re going to be experiencing cravings to play video games so to better understand and overcome our negative thoughts we should write them down in a journal.
We recommend buying a journal and actually writing it down with pen and paper as opposed to typing it into a phone or tablet. Whenever you feel a craving to play video games write down the following:
- What time you felt the urge to play
- What triggered your urge to play. Was it a message from a friend, a stressful day at work or an advert on TV? Anything that caused it
- How it made you feel. Excited, upset, anxious etc. Just write down, unbiased, the emotions you felt when craving video games
The beauty of this exercise is that we don’t have to do much restructuring of these thoughts yet as simply writing them down is enough to start taking power away from them. When thoughts are inside our heads they’re overwhelming, daunting and persuasive. However, when we simply see them as words on a page it’s almost laughable that they once had power over us. Take the time to start writing in Trigger Journal whenever you feel cravings and notice how they will become less frequent and less powerful.
The idea of meditation might sound a bit hippy but it is often misconstrued in the media. Meditations have various different goals and are an integral part of many different treatment programs because of the benefits they have. Improving cognitive flexibility, gratitude and all-around well-being. So how does Mindfulness Meditation work? Well, mindfulness is concerned with bringing our attention to the present moment. Whenever we feel overwhelmed by our negative thoughts it can be easy to panic in the midst of an emotional storm. But mindfulness allows us to shift our attention away from our thoughts and how we are feeling and focus on something in the present moment, without any judgement, grounding ourselves.
One meditation we recommend to our users is the Five Senses Meditation. Typically mindfulness meditations like to focus on the senses and constants within our body that we can always rely on to be there. The benefit of this is that it can be done anywhere when we begin to feel negative thoughts or cravings.
- Start off by noticing five things that you can see. It could be a crack in the concrete where you are, a bird on the grass, or a parked car. Anything that you can see in the environment around you. Try to pick something you wouldn’t usually pay attention to and simply observe it.
- Shift your focus to your sense of touch and notice four things that you can feel. It could be the breeze on your skin, the texture of the shoes on your feet, or the warmth of the sun on your face. Anything that stimulates your sense of touch
- Bring your awareness to your hearing and take a moment to listen. Take note of three things that you can hear. The clop of steps on the pavement, the hum of a refrigerator, car horns beeping in the distance. Again anything that you wouldn’t notice on a day to day basis.
- Shift your attention to your sense of smell. Notice two things that you can smell. They can be pleasant or unpleasant try not to filter them out. Just take note of them. It could be the smell of grass or food from a nearby restaurant.
- Finally, shift your awareness to your sense of taste. For this one, you can take a sip of your drink, chew a piece of gum or simply start to notice the neutral taste in your mouth. If you’re struggling to do this, try opening your mouth to let some air in to get a flavour circulating.
The benefit of these quick and easy exercises is that they can shift our focus away from our negative thoughts and cravings as and when we need to. We may not have the opportunity to pull out our journals and start writing. But with a quick scan of the room, we can start to ground ourselves once again.
We hope that you have found these exercises to be useful and try them out when you begin to feel your cravings. Overcoming a video game addiction and resisting the urge to play can be hard but please understand that you are not alone. If you need help with quitting or cutting down, The Mindful Gamer is always here to help.