Stardew Valley, the indie farming simulator that debuted to whopping success on Steam this past February, is as addicting as it is delightful. It’s also a gigantic pain in the wrist. Since starting the game I have been in varying degrees of discomfort in my right arm, sometimes so severe that I struggle to move my shoulder, forearm and elbow. After expressing this online I was surprised to find that I’m not the only one experiencing Stardew Valley-related wrist strain, as many of the game’s tasks are not optimally keymapped to avoid injury.
With that in mind I put together this list for the beginning Stardew Valley player as a guide on how to best prevent wrist soreness and damage.
The biggest sources of click-related pain in Stardew Valley seem to be repetitive tasks like fishing, chopping trees or mining for ore. Most of these require tools that have to be clicked several times, although this improves as time goes on. By visiting the blacksmith on the east portion of the Pelican Town map, you can upgrade them for a fee (provided you bring Clint the necessary materials). Stronger tools mean a wider area of effect and fewer clicks, which means less strain on the muscles. For the best results, focus on upgrading your tools in the winter, when you don’t need your watering can and hoe every day. Prepare for the hefty cost of upgrading each during the spring, summer and fall by saving gold and mining and smelting ores.
Fishing, arguably the biggest source of wrist injury, can also be made easier by using bait and lures, which can reduce the unpredictable swinging of the fish’s activity bar as you reel them in. However, you need to gain levels in your Fishing skill before you use them, which means you may need some of these other tips to help get you there.
While the majority of the game consists of mining, farming and fishing—everything that makes your wrists scream bloody murder—it’s somewhat possible to balance your activities such that your joints can get a bit of a break. When you feel the muscles start to tighten, try to do something that doesn’t require as much mouse activity, like foraging for plants or talking to villagers, which require lots of wandering. This will provide at least some reprieve.
Sure, to a certain extent, adding mods to a game can be cheating. But what would you rather be, a cheater, or a sprained wrist haver? As a sprained wrist haver, let me confirm that cheating is less painful.
Fishing is what did my wrist in, so I suggest browsing this thread from the Starbound forums to pick one of the Easier Fishing mods, which (like the game’s lures and baits) will reduce how wildly the activity bar swings, reducing clicks and making it much easier to bring in a catch. There is also an Instant Fishing mod that you can install, if you wish to remove the difficulty completely.
Another mod-related option to reducing the game’s necessary clicks is the CJB Cheats Menu over at the Nexus Forums. This tweak allows the player to cheat in almost any conceivable way, including (among other things) instant fish catching and one hit kills, making those dangerous trips down to the mines much easier on your wrists. You can also use an Item Spawner mod, allowing you to make multiple copies of items in your inventory in mere seconds. By adding lots of gold and other items, you can avoid many of the activities requiring that repetitious tap tap tapping.
If any of the above solutions do not appeal to you, there’s always good old fashioned preventative care. Start by getting a wrist rest or padded mousepad to prop up and support your joints while typing and using your mouse. Trackball-based gaming mice can also help by more evenly distributing the work between all the fingers on your hand, while ergonomic mice eliminate the damaging repetitive-clicking-and-swiveling that causes nerve damage. You should also try to use your entire arm to move your mouse, instead of just your wrist or hand. Strain can be further reduced by making sure your hands and wrists hover over your keyboard. Do not use the table or desk below as a rest for your wrists.
Be sure to take frequent breaks, especially if you begin to feel pain. Stretching and wrist-strengthening exercises can also be helpful. I find rotating my wrists in light circles, alternating to the left and to the right in sets of five or ten, while clenching and unclenching a fist, to be soothing.
Remember that pushing the mobility of your wrist while it is already injured may cause permanent damage such as Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. If your wrist is already strained, use a brace to keep it straight while you recover.
Holly Green is a reporter, editor, and semiprofessional photographer living in Seattle, WA. She is also the author of Fry Scores: An Unofficial Guide To Video Game Grub. You can find her work at Gameranx, Polygon, Unwinnable, and other videogame news publications.