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    dkirschner's Animal Crossing: New Horizons (Switch)

    [June 22, 2020 01:06:23 PM]
    Time to say something about this game / (pre-)pandemic phenomenon. I bought my girlfriend a Switch a couple months ago and she immediately bought this. "Ah neat," I thought, "I can see what all the fuss is about." She made an island and helped me make a character to live on her island. I squatted in a tent by the beach for a few weeks before doing anything significant. Now I have a house with a spare room and I owe like 300,000 bells (dollars) to Tom Nook, the local boss.

    My girlfriend has enjoyed creating an amusement park area with some rides and getting and displaying stuff for her cool virtual house. Her favorite thing might be her big bug and fish collection though. She's got a huge area dedicated to displaying what she catches, and she won't give any of it to Blathers. Actually she hates Blathers. And some of the other NPCs. There was one (I forget her name) who she said was her girlfriend, I think because she always wanted to talk. Well, she figured out how to abuse NPCs by thwacking them with a shovel, and eventually reported the NPC to the staff and got her kicked off the island. Now we have a much cooler neighbor who listens to metal.

    My favorite part has been catching fish and insects. It's quite relaxing. My second favorite part has been discovering the stalk market and using websites to predict when to sell for max returns. It's funny that my favorite parts of the game are things that my girlfriend doesn't care for too much (I manage both of our turnip investments and always give new bugs and fish to Blathers, much to her dismay), while her favorite parts of the game are things that I don't care for too much (my house is full of unorganized junk and, aside from contributing money to shared terraforming projects, I usually don't do much in the way of decorating).

    I have yet to visit anyone else's island or to invite anyone to ours despite me knowing probably 50 people who play this, though my girlfriend has with a couple friends. I suppose I don't see the point. I mean, I see it, but I don't care about it. Except for those turnip prices. I would love to visit someone's island and sell my turnips for 500 bells.

    Anyway, what an interesting game! I understand why so many people enjoy the series and am glad I've finally explored it a bit. In the end though, I would rather play my backlog of games I can actually finish. I've never been one for simulations. Animal Crossing feels like work. It can be relaxing work, but I feel like I'm slaving away for Tom Nook, who is constantly dangling some new carrot in front of me. There's always a new holiday or event going on, new bugs to catch as the seasons change, or some other such little goal to chase. I can only think about Ian Bogost's work on procedural rhetoric where he discusses Animal Crossing as capitalism training wheels. You learn about repaying debt and you learn to consume consume consume. That's stuff I try to avoid in real life, so why do I want to do it virtually?

    Perhaps I'll have renewed interest in sprucing up my house, or my girlfriend and I will decide to build something together, or there will be some new event I really enjoy, or I'll take the dive to play with a friend. I am genuinely interested in exploring communication options in the game for scholarly reasons, and I've kept up with in-game protest news, but for now, I haven't played in a couple weeks and I'm fine with that.
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    Status

    dkirschner's Animal Crossing: New Horizons (Switch)

    Current Status: Playing

    GameLog started on: Sunday 29 March, 2020

    Opinion
    dkirschner's opinion and rating for this game

    Cute, seems very work-like. Social elements seem neat, need to play with those.

    Rating (out of 5):starstarstarstarstar

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