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This Man Committed 4 Years Of His Life To A Dream And The Payoff Was Incredible

Amber Hageman
Eric Barone, sitting at his desk in the Green Lake home he shares with his girlfriend Amber Hageman and their two roomates.

After graduating with a degree in computer science, most people with that valuable diploma in hand, would head out into the world hoping to land a well-paying job in the tech world.


Eric Barone did not do this. After graduating from the University of Washington in Tacoma with a degree in computer science, Barone could not bring himself to pursue a job at Microsoft, Google or Amazon. Instead, he took a part-time job at a Seattle theater and spent the rest of his time building a video game. He was living in his parent’s basement. Some weeks, he’d spend as much as 60 hours working on the game.



This was a risky move. Barone says he was motivated by fear.


“I was afraid of the grind. I was afraid of sitting in a cubicle and programming something I thought really boring and I wasn’t passionate about. I wanted something different and I wanted the freedom to do whatever I wanted.”


Barone eventually moved in with his girlfriend, Amber Hageman, who paid most of the bills. Barone stuck with his plan. He learned to put on a mask of confidence for friends and family. He knew that if he game wasn’t a success, he’d squander the trust and hope his loved ones placed in his dream.


The risk paid off. After working on his game for four years, Barone released it earlier this year. It’s called "Stardew Valley." It’s a farming game. Some of the tasks involve players sowing seeds and fixing up community centers in a lush green valley with blue skies and mountains. So far, the game has grossed more than $20 million.


Barone, who is now 28 years old, is shocked by the success. He and Hageman, who is 25,  say they have no plans to change how they live. They aren’t rushing out to buy new cars or a house. They still share a home with their roommates in Seattle’s Green Lake neighborhood.


Barone said that he and Hageman do plan to take a short vacation in Ireland, on their way to the the Golden Joystick Awards in London. "Stardew Valley" is nominated for an award.

This story originally aired on Nov. 5, 2016

Jennifer Wing is a former KNKX reporter and producer who worked on the show Sound Effect and Transmission podcast.