Editorial: Animal Paradoxing

Perfected the bizarre, bizarre formula.
Minor differences, but shaping up to the best entry.

Hello LusiPressConferences! Yes, E3 is underway and yes, it looks like it is shaping up to be the first E3 in quite some time to get gamers excited in ways almost forgotten. But things are still developing and I do not want to take the joy away from SiliconNooB’s signature news series coming later in the week. So instead I want to focus on the strange addiction that is Animal Crossing.

I have always had an auxiliary relationship to Nintendo’s take on The Sims. I am not sure why I ever tried the games in the first place, but that is the entire point of this article. I am not sure why anybody ever tries the games in the first place. This is coming from a guy who has played all the North American entries in the series. I sunk untold hours into the original and Wild World and I even gave City Folk a few hours as well. Hell, this is coming from a guy who has not been able to stop playing it since it was available for download on midnight last Sunday.

There is just no appealing way to accurately describe the game. I might try by saying that the point is to repay debt and do chores and spend the entire time being burdened by a growing list of responsibilities, and I would be completely right. But who wants to play a game like that? I do, apparently.

It was about a week or two ago when I realized that New Leaf‘s release date was imminent and I started getting excited. That admittedly confused me. I knew that I enjoyed the games – for whatever reason – but I thought it was the sort of game I might pick up used during a dry spell. I never thought my excitement would grow to a fervor leading to a download the minute it became available.

I got a little closer to understanding the appeal when my girlfriend only needed to see a few minutes of gameplay to download her own copy and later stated just how relaxing the title was. Because it is true. While the premise sounds boring and stressful, the actual gameplay is charming and relaxing. Fishing is satisfying and rewarding. Talking to all the residents is calming and amusing. It employs dangling carrot gameplay, but with no sense of danger. There is no crazed villain or futuristic plague. There is no impending doom that calls into question the fate of an entire galaxy. And while no tension is a bad idea to apply to all games, in the context of the gaming landscape, Animal Crossing is the perfect escape.

Cute and calm might be the most accurate words for the games.
Visit each other’s towns. Be adorable.

Of course there is some irony in escaping from what many consider to be escapism, but I am a gamer and always will be. There is no escape from my favourite pastime.

Of course, there is also the theory that Animal Crossing simplifies real life tasks. By making debt not only seem manageable but actually fun to pay off, it helps to put the stresses of real life in perspective. Well, either that or it creates yet another escape. But it does capture the satisfaction of rewarding hard work. The changes in the town in Animal Crossing games are much slower than a lot of games, but much faster than in real life. This limbo makes it easy to feel like I have hard-earned everything in my town, but yet it is not the constant battle that life often provides.

So maybe I can figure out why I enjoy Animal Crossing so much. It just cannot be described in the ways that most games can. It is a part of the gaming landscape that I feel is very important. I decided to fire up Bioshock for the first time since I beat it a number of years ago and while it holds up as an atmospheric masterpiece, there is something to be said for a game in which brutal slaughter and the disconcerting visual representation of fallen ideals do not exist. Animal Crossing is perpetually in the ideal, and while that is not a good place for one’s mind to always exist in, it is still an important dream to have.

So what about you, LusiAnimals? Have you ever played any Animal Crossing games? Is the appeal the same for you? Have you ever excitedly tried to tell friends about it only to realize that you sound like you are describing the most boring piece of shit game to ever exist? Write me a letter in the comments below!


  1. Unrelated question, but one that I need clarified: is Toronto expensive and full of hipsters?

  2. Toronto is very expensive and has pockets with an extremely high hipster ratio. Kensington market is their headquarters.

  3. Also, I have noticed the excerpt and have chosen to not change it.

  4. Have you ever excitedly tried to tell friends about it only to realize that you sound like you are describing the most boring piece of shit game to ever exist?
    Harvest Moon, Harvest Moon, Harvest Moon. Perhaps it was because I grew up in a farming community, but I am still unable to describe that game to most of my friends without realizing that I am describing work, not play.

    On the one hand, it really convinces me of Johan Huizinga’s “magic circle,” or at the very least a bastardized version of it. I’ll chop wood from sunrise to sunset in the context of a game, just as you’ll continually work on that mortgage for the loan shark Nook, but the instant I step outside in real life I’m like, “Screw that noise, outside sucks and cutting trees is hard.” It’s a bit off topic, but I wonder if ARGs or gamification advocates will help “expand” the magic circle into reality, and to what degree that will affect our ability to play these games. If we’re always within the circle, does it lose its magic after time?

    Back on topic, Animal Crossing is also fun, though I can only play it if I have friends to visit my town or work in my town with me.

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