Stardew Valley Creator Wanted to Avoid "Underpaid, Overworked" Game Industry Culture

Stardew Valley Creator Wanted to Avoid "Underpaid, Overworked" Game Industry Culture

Several quirks of fate took Eric "Concerned Ape" Barone down the path of indie game development

GQ Magazine has an extensive profile of Eric "Concerned Ape" Barone, the developer, musician, and artist who made the phenomenally popular farming sim, Stardew Valley. It's an informative read about the quiet game-maker and the personal struggles he faced to bring Stardew Valley to life.

Amongst other cool tidbits, the profile by Sam White reveals how Barone's drive for perfectionism kept him going across the years (filled with six-day, 12-hour weeks) he made Stardew Valley. It was understandably a stressful project that put some strain on his relationship with his long-term girlfriend. Oh, and Barone was half of an experimental electronic-pop duo called 17 Colorful Feathers. When their album was published online, Barone programmed a Curse of Monkey Island-style game to go along with it. Awesome.

Stardew Valley is a happy accident of sorts.

Most interestingly, Barone fell into game programming by accident while looking for a "real" job. He wanted to actively avoid game making after learning how chronically overworked and underpaid game developers are. But after studying computer science at the University of Washington Tacoma, graduating in 2011, and subsequently failing to find related employment, he decided to start making a game to broaden his skillset and make himself more employable. Gradually, Stardew Valley took form as a tribute to Harvest Moon. Barone grew up with SNES games, and Harvest Moon's focus on forming relationships in lieu of slaying monsters stuck with him.

Stardew Valley went on to become one of the biggest indie games of all time, especially on the Nintendo Switch. It has a unique coziness that draws people in—including big Hollywood directors who enjoy doing a little farming on their rare breaks.

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Nadia Oxford

Staff Writer

Nadia has been writing about games for so long, only the wind and the rain (or the digital facsimiles thereof) remember her true name. She's written for Nerve,, Gamepro, IGN, 1UP, PlayStation Official Magazine, and other sites and magazines that sling words about video games. She co-hosts the Axe of the Blood God podcast, where she mostly screams about Dragon Quest.

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