The Horrors Of Capitalism In Stardew Valley
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The Horrors Of Capitalism In Stardew Valley

Stardew Valley is a cute, relaxing farming simulator set in the little haven of Pelican Town. One of the residents of Pelican Town is a wizard—like an actual kettle brewing, strange clothes wearing, living in a tower in a remote part of town wizard. At the start of the game, he helps you by putting a spell so you can read the strange scribbles in the community center. Aside from him, Stardew Valley also has monsters in the mines, a strange creature living in the sewers, and other supernatural elements.

But this feature isn’t about any of this. No, it’s about the real villain of Pelican Town, the real threat looming over the little town: the corporate-owned supermarket JojaMart. During your playthrough, you’ll encounter them at some point. The supermarket is at the outskirts of the town, but one of their vending machines is also in the Stardrop Saloon and you’ll eventually find some cans of their Joja Cola around while fishing.

Now what’s so bad about Joja Corporation I hear you ask? Well, first of all, they’re a corporation. Secondly, Shane, a resident of Pelican Town and employee at JojaMart, has depression and an addiction problem. Does Joja help him with this? Do they offer him support? Paid leave? A therapist? No! Absolutely none of this! Is Joja Corporation a reflection of real life big corporations who don’t treat their workers right? Yes—but at least Shane only has to work the weekends on rainy days, I suppose.

Now that we’ve established that Joja is evil, here’s why they’re a threat to the town: Joja Corporations offers the player the option to replace the Community Center in Pelican Town with a Joja Warehouse if the player pays 5000g. Why is this bad? Because completing the Community Center makes the town thrive and the villagers happy. Completing the Joja route also doesn’t let you meet the Junimos, cute little creatures who help you rebuild the town. It also doesn’t require you to fill up any bundles with local specialties; instead, you can just buy your upgrades.

It really feels like an out of touch way to rebuild this little local community. I never considered it, since I already dislike the setting of JojaMart and its unpersonal, cold approach. Taking into account that your character used to work there and chose to quit their job to start their farm, it feels weird counting on them to rebuild the community. Most players actually agree with me too; if we look at Steam achievements, where the game has been out the longest, only 3.5% finish the JojaMart route, while 18.8% of players finish the Community Center. Quite telling, since the Community Center is actually harder to complete.

Stardew Valley is full of obstacles and foes, but the real villain of the game is JojaMart and their capitalistic approach to rebuilding the community, favouring wealth and infrastructure over the actual people living there. Choose the Community Center route and make yourself and your villagers happy by avoiding this horror.

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