The Virtual Escape from Reality
I have never understood the appeal of Animal Crossing ever since the series first started. To me, it looked dull, and many of its aspects seemed too mundane. That is, until last year when Fairmont, and every other school in California, closed. That was when my interest in Animal Crossing: New Horizons started to rise.
On March 20th, a digital copy of my game finally arrived. I went into the game with only preliminary knowledge, not knowing what to expect. Soon enough, I was hooked quickly and was playing it at every chance I had. The care and detail put into this game is astounding. Any small and uncommon hitches fall from your mind as you become immersed in the gameplay. Because every day is a unique and riveting experience.
Before I move on further, here is a summary for those who don't know the concept of Animal Crossing. Animal Crossing is a simulation-type game made up of five main-series titles. The first one, Population Growing, released in 2002 for the Nintendo GameCube. Later on, Wild World, City Folk, and New Leaf were released for the Nintendo DS, Wii, and 3DS, respectively. New Horizons is the newest one, released for the Nintendo Switch.
The premise for each game is similar, but has important differences. The first three involve you arriving at a village made up of animals and only animals. New Leaf took things differently and made you the mayor of the town when you arrived. And in New Horizons, you move to a deserted island with two other villagers, where you are made the Resident Representative. The gameplay is all the same throughout the series. You do tasks such as fishing, bug catching, gardening, building new things, paying off debt and loans to Tom Nook, etc. Each player designs their village as they like it, and choose which villager they want or don't want. There is no real objective nor ending. As I said, every day is something new for the player, and that's what makes it so unique.
It's not just me. The community has gained a massive following, especially during the pandemic. Go on Twitter or Instagram, and many have developed these incredibly intricate towns replicated from real life or video games.
Players are offering virtual services for others in exchange for materials or bells. Bouncers have become one of the most popular services one could offer. Why bouncers? It's mainly because scams and robberies do happen in-game, and bouncers protect your stuff. Not only that, but they also help to manage the Stalk Market. The Stalk Market is similar to real-life stocks. Every Sunday, you purchase turnips for a price between 90-110 bells. You sell these depending on the price, which changes twice a day. It's practically turned into a full-fledged "black market," where many utilize social media like Reddit or Discord or sites like Turnip Exchange to make higher profits than they could have on their island. Users are now willing to wait hours in virtual queues to make even more bells. When I tried this out last Sunday, I ended up staying for 10 hours, so that I could sell my turnips. These are all aspects that help many to make this their own little temporary virtual escape.
I have now been playing for many months, and I don't see myself stopping anytime soon. But there is so much I have yet to experience. Much of the fun in Animal Crossing comes from playing for a long time. I am excited to see where my journey in this game takes me, and I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys video games!