Eric Barone’s Stardew Valley

By Ben Wynd

In 2011, a young man named Eric Barone would graduate from the University of Washington Tacoma with a computer science degree. Barone struggled to find work in his field of expertise like many graduated college students do, so he took up a job as an usher at Seattle’s Paramount Theatre. Wanting to improve his computer skills, Barone started developing what would eventually become Stardew Valley. Development began as simply creating a fan made alternative to Harvest Moon, where Barone took his gripes with the game franchise and fixed them, and put his own Pacific-Northwest inspired twist on the environment of the game. Stardew Valley was going to be a small release on Xbox Live Inside Games, but this Seattle-based usher realized there was so much more potential than he originally believed. The game would stay in development until 2016 because of one shocking reason: he was the sole developer of the game. Barone programmed, created the music, SFX, etc. all on his own. He painted the process as incredibly frustrating at times and said he even thought of giving up at points. It’s a good thing he didn’t because as of January 2020, the game has sold over 10 million copies. In the game the player takes on the role of a character who takes over his grandfather’s farm in a place known as Stardew Valley. The game is very open-ended, where you take on activities like growing crops, raising livestock, crafting goods, mining, selling produce, and socializing with the townspeople, and getting married. I personally have had so much fun with this game and it feels like there’s an endless amount of content to explore. Stardew Valley is truly a one of a kind experience.