“Introducing My 3-Year-Old To Gaming… With Stardew Valley!

“The soul is healed by being with children.”
-Fyodor Dostoevsky



Ok so full confession: this is not my son’s first introduction to gaming, defined by actually holding the controller and manipulating characters on the screen himself. That honor goes to The Legend of Zelda. Raise your kids on the classics and they’ll appreciate the context.

However, this is a text-heavy game and my little 3-year-old boy, first name Kal, is learning to read. Like his father before him, he can take this opportunity to expand his vocabulary through interactive entertainment! I remember expanding mine with games like Breath of Fire and EarthBound, and while I don’t know that he’s quite ready for RPGs, I think Stardew Valley represents a great starting point!

I’m also inviting readers, friends, and fans to participate! I’ll toss out questions now and then on Twitter (@thewellredmage) and I’ve left some polls here where you can help us make the big decisions.

Here’s what we started with:

I’ve already made Standard Farms to death, and I’ve done Forest and Hill-Top Farms, so that left us with Riverland and Wilderness for this outing. “My favorite color is blue, daddy,” so that helped us pick Riverland. From then on, we went with a favorite thing that would give us the theme of our farm (initially, Kal said “Christmas” but we had a talk about it). He did pick the cat over the dog because he takes after his father, who knows what’s up.

Thanks to everybody who suggested farm names! I didn’t quite find the perfect one there, so I ultimately went with one that would fit our theme. I’m going to be naming pets, animals, etc. after video game characters, so if you have a suggestion as to what names we should give for our 1st chicken, 1st cow, sheep, duck, horse, and so on, let me know! This just adds a little extra layer of fun and I’ll keep you updated as to our progress.

On to the big question!


I’m really looking forward to this.

Actually, I’ve wanted to be able to play video games with my son since the day he was born. I think there’s so much to be gained by seeing the world through the eyes of a child, even a digital world! In some way, that echoes the core of Stardew Valley’s premise: leaving the unhappy, cynical emptiness of nightmarish corporate existence in the modern world and having closer, simpler connections to people and to nature.


Games are for everyone,
-The Well-Red Mage


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19 replies »

  1. This is awesome, and a great game to get started on together. I remember first playing games with my two sons, when they hit around age 5 or so. I believe our first game together was Minecraft (which they both still play to this day, on occasion). We then graduated to ‘Castle Crashers’ which was great co-op fun. I also mixed in as much retro stuff as I could. When they later got a Wii, they started to play more on their own – lots of Super Mario Sluggers and Wii Sports. Try as I might, I could never get either of them into racing games.

    We had a good run where they loved to play Destiny with me (especially my oldest), and he even knocked out a few raids with my clan. Now my oldest (15) doesn’t really want to play with Dad any more, and mostly plays Rainbow 6 with his buds (though he did just finish Hollow Knight). My youngest (12) is a Fortnight junkie and pretty much plays that, occasionally mixing in some Rainbow 6 if his brother will let him join his team (rare).

    Good luck on your journey with your burgeoning gamer!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! I can’t wait to play more co-op games with him (at this point he can help by cutting down the odd tree or fish here and there, but he’s still getting the hang of the d-pad directions; Zelda helped with that). I’m sure my son will surprise me someday when I try and fail to get him into a genre I really enjoy hahahaha

      So we both have two boys, eh?

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Y’know, I tried playing Stardew for a little bit, and… I dunno, I just didn’t get into it! I was really hoping and expecting to love it, but it didn’t click for me. Perhaps I wasn’t playing it the right way or something; I didn’t know what I was doing, so it really just became a mildly frustrating cycle of doing stuff without knowing what I was doing or why. I hope you and Kal enjoy it, anyway!

    I thought there were more marriageable candidates than that, though? I’m sure I was trying to work out how to get closer to Elliott, with his luxurious hair.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You might need to grab a guide. Farming sims are your thing, or no? This one is like a beefed up Harvest Moon with so much stuff to do, and it can feel aimless and overwhelming, and slow at the start. If you do get back into it, get a loose guide or set yourself some short goals (save up for a coop or upgrade your watering can), and try not to do everything.

      I’m sure you noticed that I phrased the question as which bachelorettes should we marry? Of course there are more candidates; there are twice as many if you include the male counterparts. However, I didn’t list them because my son is 3 and too young to express any kind of preference at this point, and because I’m doing most of the playing and I’m not gay or bi. All that said, my preferred bachelorette is Leah the artist, interestingly enough the counterpart of Elliott.


    • Yeah I agree! It’s benign and peaceful. It’s not super violent. It’s got plenty of reading to do… If only daddy could make his mind up about what kind of farmland to chose from….!!


  3. Sounds like a wonderful way to get your son into gaming. I know not too many children get to have that as their first experience so that’s really nice that you’re doing that with him. I hope he’s enjoying it so far too.

    Liked by 1 person

    • My parents didn’t really play games but some of my earliest memories are watching my dad mess around with a C64, so I want to give memories like that with my son, only be more interactive with him myself. Plus it’s another excuse to play more Stardew LOL


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