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Paige FTW: The Power Of ‘Animal Crossing’

Thanks for putting up with a few reruns the last few weeks — we’re back to our regularly scheduled programming now.

You’d be forgiven if the only things you got out of the most recent Nintendo Direct were Animal Crossing and the internet’s great and uncontainable love for Isabelle.

Oh, there were plenty of other announcements: a third Luigi’s Mansion title (poor Luigi, always forgotten), the long-awaited launch of Nintendo Switch Online, remakes of Katamari Damacy and New Super Mario Bros. U, a non-Pokemon title from GameFreak, the first-ever ports of certain Final Fantasy titles from PlayStation to Nintendo platforms … but Isabelle and Tom Nook ruled the day.

How, exactly, a lowly GameCube title has risen to become one of Nintendo’s most beloved franchises is both perplexing and utterly understandable.

It’s just … nice. You just mosey around town. You befriend your neighbors. You earn Bells, coin by coin, to pay back your debts and spruce up your home. There’s no competition (other than gratuitous self-expression).

Is it boring? Yeah, honestly, sometimes it is. But is it also compelling? Yes.

Animal Crossing is about … finding that room of one’s own, so to speak. This is a space where we are safe and loved and happy. It’s similar to but different than the effect of a game like Stardew Valley or Harvest Moon, because those games, however similar, have more concrete goals: building the best, most profitable farm is another thing entirely compared to creating a space that you love. It’s also why Pocket Camp elicited such negative reactions to microtransactions. It just defies the very essence of what Animal Crossing should be.

Little surprise that millennials in particular have embraced the therapeutic nature of this humblest of Nintendo franchises. =

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