Within the Animal Crossing series, players have always had the ability to collect insects and then donate them to a museum where they can then be permanently exhibited. This paper makes the argument that this collecting and exhibiting of game objects works to reflect many of the ways that videogames have begun to take up an increasingly prominent place within real world institutional exhibitions, archives, and collections. Through a conjoined lens that is equally informed by games preservation, etymology, and art history this essay works to unpack the intricacies of how the museum and collecting function with the Animal Crossing series. This examination of Animal Crossing will then be applied more broadly to two museums (the MoMA and the V&A) exhibition case studies, making the comparative argument that overtly taxonomic methods of display and archiving can work to deaden videogames’ inherently mutable vitality. By speculatively thinking of videogames as things akin to the bugs of Animal Crossing, to be kept alive throughout the archival process rather than dead objects to be preserved, a new, more productive lens of videogame curation can be gleaned.
The game series of Animal Crossing is founded on materialism and consumerism, and its mechanics emphasize the economic principles of production, trade, and consumption. And as a social simulator, its gameplay focuses on inventory management, with items and artifacts as rewards for behaviors. Players are urged to customize their town and avatar, by buying and selling clothing, accessories, furniture, and other items. The method of garbology concludes that trash is a valuable resource in revealing the attitudes and motivations of a culture. This article uses garbology to examine the trash left behind by players in ten random towns of Animal Crossing: New Leaf to create a taxonomy of what players valued and disposed of. This study found patterns of production (non-native and “perfect” fruit trees) to maximize monetary gains, and signs of customization through consumption (such as creating a gothic-themed town). The author concludes based on the findings that players of New Leaf are engaged in a culture of economy and thrift, as opposed to conspicuous consumption, per Rathje’s (1984) hypothesis of garbage.
This article explores how the Animal Crossing series represents and invites players to practice writing. Adopting several frameworks including media speleology, affect theory, and writing studies, this article argues that the representation of writing in the first game in the Animal Crossing series, Animal Forest, resists both the technological and gendered histories typically ascribed to writing and video games. Turning to the ways that players actually practice writing, this article suggests that affect plays a key role in the deep connections that players develop with fellow villagers through the act of letter writing. Ultimately, this article calls for further examination of writing’s role in the cultural significance of Animal Crossing and careful study of its representations in other video games.
Cet article explore comment la série Animal Crossing représente et invite les joueurs à pratiquer l'écriture. Adoptant plusieurs cadres, dont la spéléologie des médias, la théorie de l'affect et les études d'écriture, cet article soutient que la représentation de l'écriture dans le premier jeu de la série Animal Crossing, Animal Forest, résiste à la fois aux histoires technologiques et genrées généralement attribuées à l'écriture et aux jeux vidéo. En ce qui concerne les façons dont les joueurs pratiquent réellement l'écriture, cet article suggère que l'affect joue un rôle clé dans les relations profondes que les joueurs développent avec leurs camarades villageois par le biais de la rédaction de lettres. En fin de compte, cet article appelle à un examen plus approfondi du rôle de l'écriture dans la signification culturelle d'Animal Crossing et à une étude approfondie de ses représentations dans d'autres jeux vidéo.
This article focuses on goodbyes within the Animal Crossing series, describing them as an important but often overlooked mechanic afforded through the inventory space. Beginning with defining the general mechanics withing the series, the article highlights the value of inventory space and argues that inventory space affords the central mechanic of collecting to emerge. As inventory space is not infinite, collecting is accompanied by the necessary mechanic of goodbyes. In order to make more room to collect players will be faced with choices of departing from both items and villagers, the game’s NPCs (Non-Playable Characters), emphasizing goodbyes’ mechanical and emotional function within this virtual world. Ultimately, this article concludes by highlighting how these mechanics serve to emphasize the parasocial attachments and agency players encounter when faced with the dilemma of departure.
This paper defines and examines a genre of videogames I call slice of life and reflects upon the use and appeal of the genre for different audiences. I develop an account of the slice of life genre by defining three critical traits: the mundane activities comprising most of the game time, the normativity of social interactions within the world, and the ongoingness of the game world in the absence of the player. Utilizing a journal and experience-based methodology, I present my own experience with chronic pain and pain management to assess how Animal Crossing: New Leaf, a game that falls into this slice of life category, was useful to me as a disabled player. My analysis not only reveals a connection between my experience in Animal Crossing: New Leaf and pain management, but also offers insight into how the slice of life genre involves different metagames for different audiences. Future work may address more case studies in further development of the slice of life genre as well as how it impacts different audiences.
In the last three decades Japan has experienced a steady process of social disconnection, the vanishing of interpersonal links, and the decline of the making of new bonds. As an increasingly popular saying, Japan has been labelled as a “muen shakai”, a relationless society. Then, while some neoliberal discourses have praised the disappearance of social relationships lionising individualism and self-responsibility, other voices have advocated for the active participation in the making of new communities. This article argues that,Animal Crossing has engaged this debate, exploring the complexities of the process of socialisation, interpersonal relationships, and the making of communitarian bonds. The article further argues that Animal Crossing: New Leaf proposes a socialisation simulation that presents such process as an uncontrollable, unpredictable, and demanding endeavour. To support this argument, the article examines Animal Crossing: New Leaf’s main mechanics focusing on its affective design, and how it modulates players’ attention through manipulating their agency over the game.
Many millennial Animal Crossing players will experience the joy of paying off their beautiful three-floor in-game home only to have that joy cut short by the crushing realization that they may never experience homeownership in real life. Who do we then take that anger and disappointment out on? The capitalists with a stranglehold on the housing market? The governments and companies holding our lives hostage for student loan debt? Our landlords who take most of our income each month so we can keep a roof over our heads? Our bosses who are criminally underpaying us for our labour? Or is it a fictional racoon? Arguments about the ethics of Animal Crossing’s non-playable character Tom Nook are inescapable in online discussions about the Animal Crossing series. These discussions generally have two sides: either Tom Nook is a capitalistic villain who exploits the player’s labour for housing, or he is a benevolent landowner who helps the player out in hard times. Vossen first sets the stage by discussing the cultural significance of both the Animal Crossing series, focusing in on Animal Crossing: New Horizons (2020), and the millennial housing crisis. She then examines the many tweets, memes, comics, and articles that vilify Tom Nook (and a few that defend him) and asks: are we really mad at Tom, or are we mad at the cruelty and greed of the billionaires, bosses, and landowners in our real lives? Vossen argues that what she calls “Nook discourse” represents the radical social potential of Animal Crossing to facilitate large-scale real-world conversations about housing, economic precarity, class, and labour that could help change hearts and minds about the nature of wealth.