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Stardew Valley Made Me Suicidal


Sup nerds. I've been writing posts on this blog for two years now and wow, what a great ride, we've been on all kinds of adventures! Remember when this was an infosec blog? Remember when every post wasn't just me screaming at capitalism? Remember how this website went through three rewrites? Fun times.

Anyway, today I'm going to tell you a story about that time I wanted to kill myself.

This has been a hard post for me to write. I started the draft in December, giving it more than a month. For context, most posts only take one or two days to write. And to be honest, I’m not sure on what to write about.

Actually if you read the title, you should think that I do know what to write about, because I do… well now at least. I didn’t before I wrote the title, so technic… actually forget it, I don’t want to waste time on this.

Before we get into what the title is (which is clickbait btw, so get rekt), I want to get into what I previously wanted to write about which is “Depression for the Neurotypical”. I was going to explain what depression and some other mental illness felt like to help neurotypical[1] people be able to empathise better, as well as outline ways to help.

I scrapped it because I don’t think I have enough knowledge on this stuff yet to bring something interesting to the table. Most of the advice was focused on my own specific issues because that’s all I know. This isn’t an inherently bad and I’m sure it can still be helpful, but I didn’t want to just focus on myself. So when I’ve done more research on this stuff I promise I’ll write the post.

Okay, it’s story time!

On February 10th 2017, I spent the 50 dollars I received from my birthday back on Stardew Valley and Rocket League.

We are going to ignore Rocket League (good game, terrible player base; very mean) and talk about Stardew Valley. If you are unaware of it, it’s basically a farming simulator/role-playing game. It’s not normally the type of game I play, but I just finished my 12th playthrough of Metal Gear Rising and I wanted something different.

After the character creation screen, the game starts off with you in a lifeless office. You receive a letter from your late-granddad who gives you his farm and you decide to move there. To be clear, I have not played this game since this story took place, so I may get a few details wrong.

Anyway, you arrive at the farm which is a complete mess with weeds every, a person from the town (who’s name I have forgotten) gives you a tutorial and the game actually starts.

Normally at this point with any other game I would be completely bored. I am not good with RPG’s because I don’t care about most narratives, but this game was pretty charming and the farming mechanics seemed like something you could easily relax to so I was looking forward to digging deeper.

Okay, before I get into this next part, you’re going to need a little background on me:

  • I get hooked easily by games where you just watch numbers go up. Idle games are a particular guilty pleasure of mine.
  • As a person with social anxiety and very few friends, parasocial relationships[2] can become an issue. I once became somewhat obsessed with the YouTuber “Call Me Kevin”, up to the point where I had a dream where we went on a shoe shopping date (I rarely have dreams, and having ones that don’t induce stress and anxiety are even more rare).
  • I didn’t like high school because it was boring and I especially didn’t enjoy standardised tests that equate for 50% of your ATAR as they make me stressed. As such, I was constantly looking for things to do to keep me distracted from school.

That weekend I spent 39 hours on the game. I found a guide online which told you which crops where the best to plant each season, and soon I was rolling in cash. Another guide told you what each person in the town liked for a present, and soon I was loved by everyone. You could say I was cheating, I wouldn’t disagree with it, but does it really matter? It’s a single-player game.

39 hours in two days is a very long amount of time to be playing a game. Especially for me who can only manage two hours a day for most games if I’m alone, maybe five with friends.

By the time I finished, I had the biggest house possible, I got married to Emily (the only person whose name I can remember), my farm was efficient as fuck, I think I got a cat? And I got the homeless guy to give me his fish bait. Life was pretty good.

For my character in game at least. For me it was quite different.

When I said the title was clickbait, the truth is that I was already in a pretty bad place before this.

You know that feeling when it’s 3rd period and realise you haven’t spoken to anyone all day so you start getting a panic attack because you think everyone hates you?

You know how when you wake up the first thing is always how your inability to talk to people will completely fuck you up when you become an adult by destroying any job prospects, leaving you to die on a street?

Do you remember when the Australian Federal Government issued a plebiscite over mail you were too young to vote for and when the results came it you were happy because it passed but then you realised that the fact that this even needed to be voted on meant that nearly half of the country doesn’t want you to have the same rights as everyone else?

You know how you used to be amazed by human development and technological change but as you started growing older you realised the world is a terrible place that we are destroying in part due to this technological change?

And remember how you literally never told anyone about this and let this shit fester up for years unchecked?

How about the fact that you were constantly scared of the idea that you were actually faking all of this for attention (even though as stated before, you never told anyone)?[3]

Ohhh let’s not forget how you were also in the “am I trans?” part of your life. Your bi-ness and weird urges to wear dresses left you pretty confused about yourself. Actually, let’s talk about that some more because 3 years on, you still haven’t sorted this out. What the fuck are you?

You say you’re fine being cis, but is that because you don’t want to go through all the trouble of transitioning and you understand that being a male is much easier than being a woman, let alone a trans woman.

But that’s all in the past, it’s been long enough where you’re pretty sure you don’t have gender dysphoria and you intend to stay just as male who is sometimes more feminine. So does that make you gender fluid? How would I know? I’m going through the same thing.

Okay let’s sum it before we get onto the next point. You have problems with:

  1. Social anxiety
  2. Whether you can be accepted by society
  3. Anxiety on how the next 9 months could determine how the rest of your life turns out
  4. The state of a cruel and uncaring world
  5. Self doubt (and a general low self-esteem)
  6. Your own identity

Now let’s compare it to your character in Stardew Valley:

  1. You can talk to anyone by walking up to them and pressing a button
  2. You can get everyone to love you just by talking to them and giving them gifts occasionally (IIRC there is no way to get people to hate you)
  3. You have a guide to success
  4. The town is very friendly (and the town is pretty much the entire world)
  6. There are only two gender options

I hope you can see now that when you compare yourself to your character (which you will inevitably do), you will see that your life is pretty miserable. You should then be able to see how you got so attached to the game that you spent 39 hours playing it in two days. However, realising this and remembering that you had to go back to school led you to completely cut yourself off from the game, never playing it ever again.

But you kept the memories. The ideas of how you’re probably never going to be happy because all the happiness is contained in a farming simulator. And that your life will never be a farming simulator. You will die alone in a ditch.

Sorry about the sudden switch into second person. I can get pretty uncomfortable when talking about myself so it made it easier. All the points still stand though. I went through years of just kinda ignoring my problems and not doing anything about them.

So a few days later I finally implemented “Operation School Skip” where I skip school and if the school tried to ring my mum informing that I wasn’t at school, it would go my phone instead (for reasons I won’t get into) and I would use the soundboard of my mum I created to answer it (I also won’t get into that).

I went and visited a few bridges to think about… stuff. Was it really worth to keep going on like this? What’s the point when I can’t even remember the last time I was happy?

Eventually I realised that I’d never even bothered to try to make myself better and that I should at least attempt that before doing something that could be permanent.

And I’m going to Japan after the HSC! Japan seems like a cool place, at least I have that to look forward too. Oh and I really want to see the end of Mr. Robot. It’s a really interesting show with a main character I can relate to ;)

I can say this now as the show finished a month ago, but fuck me was that worth it. Holy shit what a good show, if you haven’t already go watch it NOW. In fact it was Mr. Robot which inspired “Operation School Skip”. You can do what you want with that information. Japan was cool too.

That’s the end of the story. You might be wondering if I’m better now. And to that I say: “Ehhh, kinda?”

I got a therapist. I tell people about my problems. I can order food by myself now. I have a good job so all that worrying about what uni I’ll be able to get into was for naught. The world seems to be getting worse, but what am I supposed to do about that?

I just need to work on this some more. Having this stuff develop during my teenage years has sort of cemented itself into my brain. I still have a long way to go, but I’m getting there.

[1]: I know “neurotypical” used to be applied to anyone who wasn’t on the austism spectrum, but it’s now more common to describe it as anyone who isn’t “neuroatypical” (people with mental or behavioural disorders) so that’s what I’m using.

[2]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parasocial_interaction

[3]: By the end of the post you may have noticed that I never outright stated that I was/am "depressed", and had only made references to it. I still have problems admitting it due to this even now.