Animal Crossing: Just Livin’ Life

Image captured by Hatm0nster

As time passes, I’ve been finding myself less and less able to dedicate it to playing video games. Where once I had full nights, and even days to spend in the digital realm, I now have a mere handful of hours each week. Those hours have become a precious commodity; something to be spent wisely making as much progress as possible in one game or another rather than idly whiled away in multiplayer or simply wandering around. “Making progress” has somehow become very important to my gaming experience; it’s even gotten to the point that I have difficulty considering games like Bloodborne simply out of concern that I’ll somehow end up wasting time with them (what with all the difficulty and retrying, and well you know…death). Oddly enough, there is an exception to this. An oasis of stillness amidst the almost absolute desire to “make progress”. That bastion being the admittedly odd, Animal Crossing games.

For those who haven’t had the opportunity to get to know these games, Animal Crossing is a series of games in which you do…well nothing really. There’s no story, no enemies, no main objective. You’re just a person living their daily life in a town populated by talking animals, and that’s it. It’s a game that sounds boring, should be boring, and should be something that a progress-making gamer would never want to touch. It should be all these things, but instead it’s none of them.

I liken Animal Crossing to a deep, calming breath. There’s little to do, and no pressure to do it. It doesn’t ask you to do A, B, then C; instead it simply presents you with the options of A, B, and C. And It doesn’t care if you do all, just one, or simply choose none and spend the whole day fishing. What Animal Crossing is is relaxed, and that quality is exactly what makes it so fun and appealing. It definitely wouldn’t be the same if any of its activities had overt goals that players needed to achieve.

Animal Crossing has always had things to work toward: filling the museum, paying off the house, catching the different kinds of fish, and so on, but it never goes any farther than implying that those goals exist. You don’t have to pay off your house, but you can. You don’t have to collect bugs, but you can. You don’t have to prank your neighbors, but you can (and should; somebody needs to keep them on their toes after all). It creates a dynamic where you can pick up the game at any time and define your own goals for however long you want to play. Want to just pop in and catch a couple of fish? Cool. Want to spend 5 minutes looking for fossils? Great. Want to spend hours farming golden beetles to finally get that shifty racoon’s paw out of your pocket? Rock On! The point is that you have the option to play exactly the way to want, with no pressure to do anything more or less. Not even Minecraft‘s sandbox of infinite possibilities can claim that, what with the constant pressure to build stuff and ever-present possibility of hissing-death waiting around every corner.

If you’re a results-driven gamer and are finding yourself starting to feel tired of it all, I recommend introducing yourself to Animal Crossing. It’s relaxing atmosphere and complete disregard for progress may be just the sort of break you need before heading back out there and getting things done!


12 thoughts on “Animal Crossing: Just Livin’ Life”

  1. I agree. When I’m not in the mood to play a game that requires me to make some sort of progress, Animal Crossing has surprisingly been helpful in getting my gaming fix without the time consuming investment a more complex game would involve. It does get harder to spend so much time on video games as you get older!

    1. I’m really happy to have Animal Crossing, it’s just perfect for those ‘in-between’ periods. None of the online hassle from multiplayer games, none of the stringing-along from single-player games.

      It’s the perfect ‘no-pressure’ game when all you want to do is chill. I’m really hoping we get one on the Wii U!

  2. Animal Crossing is amazing, and the 3DS version is the best in the series. I am always amazed at how relaxing it is to play it.

    The 3DS game hooked me so much that it was the first Animal Crossing on which I completed all fossils, fish, and bugs in the museum – and I have played all of them.

    1. Woah! Congrats on finishing the museum! I’ve played all of them too, but I’ve never managed to finish it. The closest I’ve gotten was all the Fossils, Fish, and Art in the first one. I just couldn’t be bothered to track down all the bugs.

      Did you get anything for finishing it? A museum model maybe?

  3. Animal Crossing is quite fun indeed, but once I’ve paid off my house and gotten all the furniture I really wanted, I get kind of bored. I guess I’m kind of missing the point of the game, aren’t I? Every once in a while, I do like to return to it, though. I’m the kind of gamer that needs goals, so I like to come back to the game every now and then and attempt to catch more fish and bugs. I want to complete that museum, darn it!

    By the way, I see the character in your image is dressed as Link. I always dressed my character up as Link. They looked adorable.

    1. While paying off the house isn’t *the* point, it’s still a reason to play. That’s the beauty of this game, everything in it is just there as an option. Animal Crossing doesn’t care what you do so long as you’re having fun with it.

      And yes, the Link costume might be the best one…well maybe the best one that doesn’t cover your character’s face. Personally, I thing my favorite costume is the Varia Suit. So cool!

  4. This question always pops up in my mind when thinking of Animal Crossing: how does it compare to Harvest Moon? Have you played it as well? I’d love to get into an easy going game and I tend to come back to these two, but then can never decide on which one.

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