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The Animal Crossing: New Leaf Letter Series
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The Animal Crossing: New Leaf Letter Series

July 11, 2013 Article Start Previous Page 2 of 5 Next

From: Kris Ligman
To: Christian Nutt, Mike Rose

This is my first Animal Crossing. I skipped over the Gamecube entirely, and I always got the franchise confused with Harvest Moon, which I've also never played. I'm not sure why -- maybe I'm just not terribly into busywork games, which is how they were always presented to me.

And there is a lot of busywork to this, to be sure. Most of my morning routine in the game is canvassing the entire town for loose change and unwatered flowers. If this game is supposed to teach Japanese kids that the key to successful adulthood is the embrace of repetition, it has that down pat.

Like Mike, I was planning to skip over New Leaf as well, but the Twitter buzz lured me in. I think, in particular, Daphny David's tweets and retweets did it. I started seeing screencaps of animal villagers saying these shockingly subversive things (subversive for Nintendo, I suppose).

The one that finally sold me was of a villager saying something like, "It's 2013 -- boys are wearing makeup!" I decided there was more at play here than a cutesy town-building sim, so I picked it up right after E3, when I was heading up by train to visit my family.

And, surprise, when I got there, two of my sisters had the game as well, as did my oldest nephew. Cue the four of us spending what should have been a lot of time spent frolicking out of doors instead harvesting beetles from the family living room. Seriously, we stayed up until 2 in the morning on this thing.

The local co-op really hooked me on the experience in a way long-distance play has yet to, which isn't to say I haven't been enjoying visits from internet friends and the like. The inclusion of the easy screencap function is great, especially.

Leigh Alexander wrote an article on Candy Box as more social than social games, and I feel like Animal Crossing: New Leaf operates on a similar wavelength: not so much because of how much you interact with others THROUGH the game, but BECAUSE of the game. As someone who routinely just checks out when it comes to online multiplayer-type experiences I find that I'm actually really loving that I can go do my own solitary things in this game, gripe about something on Twitter, and get a half-dozen commiserations in response.

I'm at 85 hours at the moment, by the way. How about you guys? 

From: Christian Nutt
To: Mike Rose, Kris Ligman

Well, I sailed past 100 hours a while ago. I'm not even sure where I am now. Somebody asked me if I'd been leaving my town open and idle so people could visit... and no, I haven't. I've been playing quite actively for almost all of that time.

One thing I wrote about in my editorial that interests me about the longevity of the game is the natural way in which your attention can shift to something new and engrossing for awhile, and then shift again to something else entirely. The game encourages this through its unlocking system (naturally, I got interested in QR code patterns when I got the QR code reader; I got interested in building a museum exhibit when I got the second floor exhibit space, etc.) But I think there's more to it than that.

I also have a funny story that illustrates one of the things that's so good about the game. I set up a bathroom in my house, and in the bathroom is a urinal (or to use the game's term, "men's toilet.") One of the animals asked if she could visit my house — and when she did, she critiqued my decorating skill, of course. She said, "This is an unusual touch, putting a men's toilet here for everyone to see."

She followed that up with something about how displaying it made it like a sculpture, and thus context turned it into art. My Animal Crossing game accidentally became the Dada Manifesto! I suspect she would have delivered the same spiel about whatever object seemed most incongruous with my house, but the fact that she chose that one put a huge smile on my face just for the serendipity of it. And I think those little moments of serendipity keep me coming back to the game. 

Article Start Previous Page 2 of 5 Next

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