Although my official employers are SockMonkey Studios, I am definitely a bit of a Nintendo mercenary. Pokémon Yellow was the first game I remember playing on the second-hand Game Boy my parents bought me for my birthday; before that it had been a lot of ‘you can press the go button on Colin McRae Rally’ and ‘you can watch me play.’ From then on I fell in love with the places Nintendo created, from the quaint Lavender Town to the stunningly-infuriating Rainbow Road, but the place that became home to me and many other millennials was the Animal Crossing universe.
Only being able to play the original game over a friend’s house meant that it wasn’t until Christmas 2006, when I opened my brand new Nintendo Ds ,that my mam had spent God knows how long queuing for (thanks mam), that I fully fell for Animal Crossing: Wild World.
Back then I focused more on bug-catching and K.K. Slider’s concerts than the community around the game but, 14 years later, the release of Animal Crossing: New Horizons not only hit me with the biggest nostalgia bomb ever but also introduced me to the rich and wholesome culture surrounding the game.
New Horizons and Old Friends
Turning on my special edition Animal Crossing Switch (yes) I found I had a new appreciation for everything in the game, down to the soundtrack, which used to be inconsequential, but I now realise totally slaps! Also as a side-note did anybody else uncover an unknown part of their memory where you can pair up the old soundtracks with the time of day in the game?
I started my island with oranges – which somehow happens to me in every AC game – and it wasn’t long before I got to say hello to some old friends… and some new ones!
P.s. I’m on a never-ending search for my all-time favourite villager, Filbert please.
Socially Distant Socialisation
Building a community in games is nothing new, but there is something about the positivity of the Animal Crossing community which makes it stand out from the others. Looking for some light-hearted, wholesome content? Just look at one of the many meme pages. Wanting to make some friends who share more than just your love of Animal Crossing, how about this Facebook group for Animal Crossing Book Lovers?
Of course the game itself comes with its own set of events for players to participate in, such as fishing tournaments and bug-offs, but thanks to the creativity of its players, I’ve found the best events are those that my friends and myself have put on. Ranging from market days to zombie nights, the sky is the limit.
Shop ‘till you Drop
One of my favourite community-built enterprises to come out of this fanbase though has to be Nookazon.
Taking it beyond Twitter threads about turnip prices and giving Tom Nook a run for his money, Nookazon was set up by Daniel Luu (@Squishguin) and is a place where people can purchase in game items for bells or via trade.
You can even trade villagers if you just can’t wait for Marina to move in!
Whether you’re picking up a console for the first time, or you’re a career-gamer, the Animal Crossing world is not only a welcoming retreat for fans of the game, but it’s leant a vital hand in bringing people together at a time when we perhaps can’t see each other in person.
Gaming has long been a home for like-minded individuals, but the time of release of Animal Crossing (and to some extent my unrelenting promotion of the game) has seen people who perhaps wouldn’t usually be drawn to games, pick it up and see what it has to offer.
Keep an eye out on the SockMonkey Blog for more game news and opinions from the team.