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Thursday, March 19, 2020

Owning and Playing Games (like Animal Crossing) as a Social Status Symbol

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - There's an Animal Crossing sob story by the end of this.

Have you ever lied about owning and playing a videogame? To impress a friend? To impress a forum? Very few people are at least willing to admit that they play games as a social thing, and few people admit to lying about beating games they haven't.

I think that's understated. People lie or bluff about seeing movies for the sake of smoother conversation. It makes sense they'd do so for games, since games are now as mainstream as movies.

Of course, you might not have to lie. You could just get the game. You might not enjoy it, but it might be easier than lying about it.

There are classic games that you may pretend to have played to seem more cultured, and then you hope no one asks specific questions. Then there are current games that have just released and you want to be part of its social scene for whatever reason. Maybe your friend group is into it. Maybe the friend group you want to be a part of is into it. Maybe you have friends that aren't going to talk to anyone but that social scene for months, and if you're not in it with them, then you're not going to hear from them. Whether you're bluffing, or you actually get a game for the sole purpose of playing with others (it's hard to lie about today's multiplayer games, because what do you do when someone asks to play it with you?), there are games you wouldn't otherwise involve your name with if it weren't for...SOCIETY.

I have a specific game in mind: Animal Crossing: New Horizons. The Animal Crossing series aren't my kind of games. I mean, I've spent hundred(s) of hours on Animal Crossing (GameCube) and Animal Crossing: New Leaf. I get why people like them. I won't judge you for being an Animal Crossing fan! It just doesn't fit my time-crunched lifestyle or game preferences. Just check out my live reactions to the Animal Crossing Direct from February. It's dripping with apathy.

Animal Crossing GameCube custom designs door JEW star
This was apparently my attempt at putting a mezuzah on my house door.
...Actually, I don't know why I thought this was a good idea. It's not even a six-sided star?
(Though when I did put a real Star of David on Miiverse, I got banned.)

But here's the issue. A lot of other people are really enthusiastic for Animal Crossing: New Horizons for Nintendo Switch, releasing tonight. A lot of folks that I think it'd be good for me to acquaint with.

Animal Crossing fans, among other things, like to read charming writing communicated by cute anthropomorphic animals. On a daily basis! They also skew female, much more than the vast majority of other game series. That's a perfect audience for both KoopaTV and for my personal desires.

People play Animal Crossing for relaxed, slice-of-life action, as opposed to a riveting narrative with unique and memorable characters. There's really only 8 personality types of Villagers, and everyone else is just an Echo Fighter. That's not much. Yeah, they have unique tastes in home decor, and Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp tries to profit off that, but after enough time (a year, given the existence of seasonal events, assuming you're not a time-travelling menace) there isn't much new content to still be discovered.

Quite frankly, a lot of my enjoyment from Animal Crossing on GameCube came from playing the NES games—which is the wrong reason to like Animal Crossing, especially since they stopped putting those in every title since. Still, it was like a mini-Nintendo Switch Online collection, and it let me play amazing titles like Donkey Kong Jr. Math. And then in terms of normal gameplay, I dedicated quite a lot of time trying to get Bubbles out of my village (BARRY) because she went and stole an item from my inventory. I had a whole second village on another memory card (TREEWOOD) that existed for the purpose of trying to get her to move to that village and out of my main one, and I regularly attacked her with bug nets to try to get her to hate me enough so she'd go.

Animal Crossing Nintendo GameCube NES games emulator Donkey Kong Jr. Math
I didn't play Donkey Kong Jr. Math tonight, but I was the first Let's Player of it on YouTube.

Unfortunately, my favourite villager and best friend ever, Cube, whom I have corresponded with for many hours over the years I've played Animal Crossing, moved to TREEWOOD first. Bubbles ultimately followed him there, but Cube being in TREEWOOD before Bubbles came there meant I ultimately couldn't delete TREEWOOD off the second memory card. I had to maintain both towns, and that was a big pain. Obviously, I eventually stopped.

I revisited BARRY and TREEWOOD right before publishing this article to get some pictures. BARRY is absolutely covered in weeds and fruit all over the place. It's a mess. As for TREEWOOD... I was really, really looking forward to talking to Cube again, even if it's been over, what, 10 years?

Animal Crossing GameCube Cube penguin dialogue complete fog get in touch house
Well... You're the one that moved out of my town into this one, so if you really wanted to get in touch with me, you shouldn't have left?
Anyway, after you left BARRY, I got a 3DS and played Animal Crossing: New Leaf, but I didn't see you there.
I've also been writing for this really awesome website every day for the past 6+ years called
(It's a website with articles you read, not something you can watch on that Apple TV.)

Then I talked to Cube again. He referenced a letter he got a decade and a half ago, and suddenly he became hungry and angry for no logical reason. Then he said this:

Animal Crossing GameCube Cube penguin angry anger
Wait? What? WHAT DID I DO?!

...Well... Alright Cube... If that's how you'll feel about me... I'll just never play an Animal Crossing game ever again. I'll probably just never have friends, either. 

And when people ask me if I have Animal Crossing because maybe they want me in their social group, I'll say I had the previous games, but the animals hated me, so it's best not to get New Horizons. That means I won't pretend to own Animal Crossing: New Horizons and I'll just miss out on the social scene that involves. Maybe it's best not to pretend to be something or someone I'm not.

There's still a good chance that Animal Crossing fans will end up attracted to KoopaTV, since even though Ludwig won't be getting Animal Crossing: New Horizons, other KoopaTV staff members will. Witch Princess, for example. He'll be trying to get her to publish Animal Crossing content for KoopaTV. If you want to contribute Animal Crossing content as a guest, look here for information on that. By the way, Ludwig had absolutely no idea that Cube would react to him the way he did while he was writing this article, and that certainly wasn't his intention. Though Ludwig is very adept at unintentionally getting people pissed off at him. If this article seems like Ludwig's projecting his own behaviour on to the general population, that's because he is, and he's lied about having played certain games before.

Ludwig also believes that climate-change strikers would be good KoopaTV readers, though he doesn't think there can be a personal future with any of them.
Nintendo wants to help Ludwig by getting the Animal Crossing crowd to buy other games that he's more naturally likely to be interested in.
In the fiercest competition of the year, this article won the Best KoopaTV Gaming Commentary Article of 2020 award!


  1. What about those of us who don't care about social status but are intrigued by the hype?

    1. Is that an Animal Crossing-specific question, or...?

    2. Yes.

      I normally like games that have a story or at least a defined structure and goals. On the other hand, I did like Tomodachi Life, probably the closest thing I've enjoyed to this style of game.

    3. So I went back and read your two-part impressions of Tomodachi Life (though you outright state in that that Animal Crossing does not appeal to you.)

      It seems you liking Tomodachi Life was more of an amusing scenario toy than anything else, though you lost interest in it after a month. Animal Crossing is less of a toy and more of a grind-y relaxation tool. Rather than watching the inhabitants interacting with one another, it's really more of how they interact with you and how mold the play space to be something more unique to you. You're the focus... there's not much observable animal-to-animal goings-on.
      No story, and no defined structure or goals. It's more of a sandbox.

      There's no romantic elements, though.

      I'd also say that it requires far more than a few minutes per day of play. More like...half an hour of daily errands, and perhaps more.

      I'm going to try to get KoopaTV coverage of Animal Crossing from folk(s) who will actually have the new game and can speak to whatever is unique about it (...if anything) so you don't have to just take my word for it.

      Oh, and also something that Animal Crossing features that I don't think Tomodachi Life does is a multiplayer aspect. You can have multiple people (and they can be you on another file) co-live on your town/island/whatever, and your Switch friends can visit. The animals will reference their interactions with these other humans.

    4. Regarding multiplayer, I don't have Nintendo Switch Online.

    5. Oh, well, that's sort of a major reason why Animal Crossing is hyped by people. 'cause they want that social element to it. You could theoretically enjoy it playing by yourself, I suppose.

      I don't think it's your type of game.

    6. The temptation is growing day by day nevertheless.

    7. I dunno, get away from social media.

      If you have time for Animal Crossing you have time for Color Splash!

    8. Because Animal Crossing is a permanent loss of 30–90 minutes on your schedule.

      Surely you don't have THAT much time on your hands, do you? >.>

    9. Well, no.... but I'm sure my island would survive if I ignored it every now and then.

    10. NAAAH.

      Well, it'd survive, but that comes with a number of downsides that I am unable to elaborate on because New Horizons may have added quality of life features compared to previous Animal Crossing titles.

    11. I don't think people know what happens in New Horizons yet due to lack of data.

      In the GCN version, your town is overran with weeds.

    12. Most people seem to say it's a "go at your own pace" sort of game.

    13. Well, yes, it is, in an objective-setting way.

      This GameFAQs poster should share the same general feelings you do:

    14. Yeah, sounds like they're coming from a similar place.

      Well, I'm not getting New Horizons or starting Color Splash until I beat the KH3 DLC secret boss.

    15. I can't tell if that's supposed to read as a confirmation that you're getting New Horizons.

    16. You could take it as confirmation that I'm going to start Color Splash.

    17. You've confirmed that multiple times over the years. ^_^;

  2. I guess not getting in touch affected Cube's thoughts.


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