MDA & 8 Kinds of Fun: Mechanics, Dynamics, Aesthetics and Fun in Stardew Valley

I enjoy playing Stardew Valley. In this game, players roleplay as a farmer who leaves their corporate life behind to tend to their grandpa’s farmland. In the process, they meet townspeople, live off the land, and explore the new place. Its mechanics include dying when killed by monsters, restoring health through cooked food and foraged items, breaking rocks to obtain minerals and ore, and farming edible plants. This creates fun dynamics of mining for ore while fighting monsters to avoid death, which encourage farming, cooking, and foraging to help replenish health while mining. Players are also encouraged to buy and sell items to amass wealth in order to more effectively farm and survive the mines. Selling items also encourages users to buy furniture and other decoration to personalize their piece of land. In addition, foraging items and collecting ore allows players to craft items that are even better. These dynamics help to create an enjoyable atmosphere to explore the land with the challenge of avoiding death.

Overall, it’s a fun game that involves discovery of a new place being boring corporate life, and fits into the aesthetic of abnegation (it’s a nice pastime that doesn’t involve much brainpower).

Screenshot of Stardew valley. The player is able to mine for ore while fending off monsters, like the bug on the bottom right. Their health and energy bars are shown — challenge is derived from aiming to not let these bars deplete.

Picture of decoration in Stardew valley. Players can place plants, furniture, and other collectables to pass the time.

Players can craft items with special machines and sell them.

About the author

I like animation and game dev yeet.

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