Stardew Valley is in These Lists
In addition to the similar games listed above, which have been linked to this game specifically in the database, you may find games with a similar theme to Stardew Valley in the following lists:
As children get older, they develop stronger ideas of what they want to play. Friends at school and YouTube stars create popular gaming fads for the latest titles. These are a lot of fun, but children’s choices can end up being narrowed down to big-budget or on-trend games. The games suggested here go beyond the usual suspects. While offering age-appropriate alternatives to older-rated games, they are still exuberant, intriguing and create raucous gaming fun that fires the imagination of children aged 7 to 12 years old.
These games have an educational element to them, but also offer experiences that are good games in their own right. This isn't busywork to trick you into learning, but clever and innovative ways to encounter history, physics, engineering, maths, geography and language subjects without feeling like you are in school. They also teach softer, deeper skills like long term strategy, planning, balancing systems, emotional intelligence, compassion, team-work and self-care.
Some of these games are aimed at younger players to play on their own, but others (as indicated by their PEGI ratings) are better for teenagers or played together in a family. Find some games that pique your interest, read through the details and decide how your child might benefit from playing them.
Games that embed a sense of hope by playing them. Sometimes a hopeful story, sometimes a hopeful interaction, and sometimes just an uplifting aesthetic to spend time in. These are games that leave you with an uplifted spirit, maybe not immediately (like Horizon Zero Dawn
) but by the time you have finished them.
There is something innocent and childlike in play, and video games each have a slice of that in different ways. Sometimes simple and sometimes complex, games can help us return to the hope we had as children, or call us on to the wisdom and perspective of older years.
Things don’t stay put. You’re the only one keeping the ship afloat. You can’t get people to do what you tell them. The effort you spend doesn’t produce the results it deserves. Well, in these video games you get to wield complete control over people, things, situations or even whole worlds.
If games offer an escape from chaos, these games are particularly good at granting a sense of satisfying agency and power as they do that. Whether it’s ordering the perfect stock room in Wilmot’s Warehouse
, organising your island in Animal Crossing
, perfectly controlling the flow of traffic in Mini Motorways
or even build civilisation just the way you want it in Civilization
the sense of satisfaction and calm from the achievement is second to none.
Psychologists define resilience as the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or significant sources of stress — such as family and relationship problems, serious health problems, or workplace and financial stressors. As much as resilience involves "bouncing back" from these difficult experiences, it can also involve profound personal growth.
Games, by design, present players with adversity and much of the joy of gaming comes from taking on and overcoming unnecessary obstacles. Whether you’re saving the universe from an alien invasion or tending crops in your animal community, playing games mimics the process of resilience.
This list of games that can help foster various forms of psychological resilience is compiled with the expert help of Take This
. They aim to decrease the stigma, and increase the support for, mental health in the game enthusiast community and inside the game industry. They encourage a game community that welcomes and supports people experiencing mental health challenges, and that recognizes the humanity and mental health of game creators.
series tell a narrative that you are going to fail. You’re told to give up, but if you ignore this barrage of discouragement you can use it as a way to strengthen your resolve and complete the puzzles even if you have failed twenty times in the process. The Stanley Parable
is all about trying again. You can try and re-try your decision making, reaching a variety of different endings. Dark Souls
is a hallmark for a punishing challenge that require resilience. You journey through elaborate lands to adventure, explore, and take heed lest they encounter a battle with a boss or enemy. Celeste
is the story of Madeline and the enemies she overcomes while climbing Celeste Mountain. The game specifically calls out that Madeline has anxiety, and the challenges she faces in the environment reflect her own internal struggles and triumphs. Cuphead
challenges players to battle relentless bosses in combat-heavy play. Cartoonish and playful, it balances challenging players to grow in skill and offers plenty of entertaining environments and aesthetics to keep you playing.
In Kingdom Hearts
you meet many characters that need help - and many boss battles feel almost insurmountable. With help from friends like Donald and Goofy, the player character Sora overcomes the darkness to save his friends and bring hope back to the world. Death Squared
is a co-op puzzle game where one player’s mistake makes everyone else lose. You learn cooperative resilience in trying again admits humorous judgments from the unseen “hosts” of the game.
In Animal Crossing
you get help from the animal neighbours. You learn to lean on this social and environmental resilience to persevere at building social connections with computer villagers and friends online. Stardew Valley’s
farming is about growing and maintaining a homestead. Interweaving the busy work are relationships with the other villagers, many of whom are social models for resilience in their storylines.
Video games are usually thought to be about fighting, shooting and adrenaline. As regular readers will know, there are video games about everything. Recently I've been noticing games that combine the stewardship of the land and the nurturing of resources.
These games, like Animal Crossing
, present an "ambience of bucolic" and a "reassuring mix of the pastoral and the industrial," wrote Simon Parkin
recently. They offer an escape to simpler times, that provides meaningful work along with the possibility of also working at friendships.
The games collected in this list each offer the chance to escape and absorb yourself tending to a plot of land and nurturing often surprisingly moving relationships. Whether you are diligently cleaning someone's empty flat as in Sunset
, setting up a farm after retiring from your adventures in Littlewood
, reconnecting with grown-up children in The Stillness of The Wind
, nurturing a musical garden in Mutazione
, establishing a coffee shop in Coffee Talk
or even eeking out provisions while you care for children in This War Of Mine
all these games have something to tend to and people to get to know while you do it.
Video games are, of course, inside experiences. However, they offer experiences that can connect players to a love of gardening and the outside. The games in this list have garden of an aspect of their story, game play and interactions.
In some of the games, you use gardening and farming as a central elements, while other games offer gardening as something optional. Either way, these interactions introduce players to concepts of the seasons, crop rotation, soil, fertiliser and the impact on the environment.
If you want to have more time to talk about gardening with a child, or want to introduce them to the idea that they could create their own garden (or crop) then these games are a great way to extend those ideas into reality.
Automation is hailed as the future of work and industry is set for economic rebound. As a result, growing, managing and relating to machines are and will be important skills for children to develop.
The good news is that the process of transferring work tasks to computers and automated mechanisms is something they can try their hand at in the games in this list. Organising tasks and distributing work in the name of efficiency and effectiveness is also a common feature of many games.
We've worked with Game Academy
on this list of games that help prepare players for an era where organisations are being rewritten daily, business processes reimagined and the labour market is driven by fusion skills - humans and machines coming together to form new kinds of jobs and work experiences. Game Academy is a tech venture that helps game players make the most of their in-game talent out of game. Using new game analytics, online courses and bootcamps, they help players identify their game and life skills, develop them and link game players to new work and educational opportunities.
Some games like Factorio
look like crafting sandboxes but soon become much more than that. You discover that it will take a very long time to extract and craft the necessary resources manually, and the surrounding monsters are not ready to wait. Automated extraction/production lines come to the rescue and their creation is the main mechanic of the game. Learning Factory is a more peaceful version of factory building. You just need to repair the Martian factory to make goods for cute cats. It also provides some links to machine learning.
Other games provide you with tools to minimise your manual labour. In a game like Stardew Valley
, players spend a lot of time watering plants. A lot! But automatic sprinklers save on the grind, greatly simplifying the whole game.
At the other end of the life - and emotional scale - is Graveyard Keeper where you manage a medieval graveyard to get your character to open a portal back to his old world.You have a dozen different activities: gathering resources, brewing drinks, farming and carrying out autopsies - hilarious rather than gruesome tasks, we can assure you. But this is all hard, hard work. Fortunately, there’s a moment when you get the opportunity to create zombies and give them the hard labour. It changes the gameplay dramatically, as well as your fortune and fate.
Autism affects the way people communicate and experience the world around them. It is a spectrum of developmental conditions, including Asperger’s Syndrome. Many autistic people play games to have fun, relax, connect with others and build skills. This is a list of games we have put together with some of Autistica’s Autistica Play
Ambassadors, to highlight games that have been enjoyed by autistic people.Autistica
is the UK’s national autism research charity. It focuses on giving autistic people the opportunity to live long, happy, healthy lives. It does this by funding research, shaping policy and working with autistic people to understand their needs.Cognitive Pressure:
Some autistic people may take time to process information and could feel pressured by time limits. Games like A Short Hike
let you progress at your own speed, without being on the clock. Other games, like Townscaper
or Stardew Valley
, help here by not making game tasks time-limited or requiring quick reactions. Then there are games, including Rocket League
and Eagle Island
, that let you adjust the overall speed of play.Difficulty Settings:
Autistic people may prefer to tailor their experience based on how they are feeling. Some days they may want more of a challenge than others. Adjust how hard the game is. Some games like Subnautica
or Bad North
let you set the overall difficulty. Others, like Mario Kart
or The Last of Us Part II
let you adjust specific aspects of difficulty. Then there are games like Marvel’s Spider-Man
or Immortals Fenyx Rising
, that allow you to adjust the difficulty as you play.Sense of Control:
The real world can be an overwhelming place with constant change and unpredictable situations. Games like Viva Pinata
or The Sims
let you play in a world where you control the variables. Other games, like Mini Metro
or Mini Motorways
offer a chance to work with systems and see how changes impact outcomes. Then there are games that magnify this, like Factorio
or Planet Coaster
, by letting you create interconnect systems and tweak for the desired result.
As Autistica helpfully highlights, every autistic person is different. While many autistic people are able to learn, live and work independently, some have learning differences or co-occurring health conditions that require specialist support. Finding a game that can be a positive experience can therefore take some time and investigation.
Cottagecore is an online term celebrating an idealised rural life. Although games are usually considered to be hard, harsh and technological, many of them play to this aesthetic that is sentimental about traditional skills and crafts such as foraging, baking, and pottery.
Games sometimes use these rural pursuits as play mechanics, like Stardew Valley, Potion Craft, Terraria and Fantasy Life. Others use cottagecore as a guide to how they look and feel, like Everybody's Gone to the Rapture, The Stillness of the Wind and Mutazione.
However it plays out in the game, cottagecore aims to satisfy a desire for aspirational nostalgia and an escape from stress or trauma. The New York Times described it as a reaction to hustle culture and the advent of personal branding. The Guardian called it a "visual and lifestyle movement designed to fetishize the wholesome purity of the outdoors."
These games emphasize simplicity and the slow pace of pastoral life as an escape from the modern world in favour of the bucolic. Unsurprisingly this has become more popular on social media during the COVID-19 pandemic. In some ways the resurgence of retro games could be seen in a similar light, although here the sentimental nostalgia is for virtual entertainment rather than rural lifestyle.
It’s easy to assume that video games are all about building big cities or running successful economies. There are, however, many games that offer quite the reverse. These games encourage players to consider the impact of their actions on the environment, as well as their interconnectedness to the world in which they live.
The games in this list take inspiration from Alenda Chang’s Playing Nature book
. They offer a chance to consider play from an ecological perspective. As she quotes, “games of environmental responsibility animate our capacity to respond, to affect and be affected, to engage with others: other species, other people, and the otherness of our own planet.”
This might be how a game like Terra Nil
makes the land itself a character in the experience. Or it can be how a game like Eco
establishes the connection between your actions and the other aspects of the environment. Other games, like The Wandering Village
underline how our location in the world impacts on us and others. One family told us about Final Fantasy 7 Remake's commentary on corporations and ecology. Then there are games of dire warning that let us step into a future where humanity is all but disconnected from the wider environment and hangs on just by a thread.
Other games let us experience our connection to the environment by adventuring in it. From getting lost in Shadow of the Colossus to finding our way in Journey, games underline the importance of the spaces in which we play. Experiences like Cloud Gardens or Viva Pinata extend this by using play to put us in charge of tending to the natural world. Games like Eastshade or The Long Dark invite us to linger in these places and gain an understanding that is crucial to our survival.