When I Left My Home in Kyiv, ‘Stardew Valley’ Was a Lifeline

It now is mid-March. I am sitting in the basement of a country house near Kyiv. Not my house. I haven’t been home for three weeks, maybe more. The calendar has ceased to be of great importance here.

Until a few weeks ago, I was living an average life of the so-called creative class. My content department has worked on projects for clients. I have poor time management and complain that I don’t have time to enjoy life. Issues available, as usual. In one morning everything changed. Then many nights in the basement of a nearby apartment building. Hastily tidying up the clothes. Move from place to place. And here I am.

Now, my day is different. All these days – the habit of ordinary Ukrainians not participating in combat, volunteering or defending territory – looks the same. Those of us who managed to move a little further from the epicenter of the shelling became dangerously addicted to our phones.

Like hundreds of thousands of people in my country, now I have to high five to put down my phone and stop reading Twitter feeds and Telegram channels. My iPhone screen time has increased by several hundred percent in recent weeks. Many of us can’t help but be shocked by the videos featuring the corpses of Russian soldiers (as opposed to their airstrikes on maternity hospitals). Every minute, someone is searching Twitter and Instagram Stories to find people who can help get a loved one out of town full of shells. Or volunteers can escort humanitarian goods at the border.

In my previous life, I loved video games. I’ve always liked their ability to recreate habits in my life. In Reality is brokenJane McGonigal has written that the game is distinguished from the life, among other things, the natural impulse to do something well. A well-designed game will give you the feeling that your efforts are not in vain. I don’t have to force myself to play the game, unlike, say, writing this. The desire to play exists by itself.

Whether it is deep space roaming in Dangerous elite or treasure hunting in Not detected yet, games can inspire in their own unique way. When I leave my house, I try not to carry a lot of stuff with me. But at the last moment, I still threw the Nintendo Switch in my travel backpack. I already know. This is madness. I brought along some socks and shorts, some spare pants, some pills, documents and… a game console on which I collected butterflies Mule.

Yesterday, I sent my wife, her mother, and our dog abroad. In recent weeks, I have rarely seen her without her phone in hand. Even at night, her routine includes endless movements. The only thing that can distract her from doomscrolling is Stardew Valley, in which you grow potatoes in a village with surprisingly kind neighbors. But, unfortunately, it only worked for about 40 minutes.

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