You’ve probably heard about, or seen a reference to this Nintendo Switch game. Since its highly anticipated release, it has swallowed a huge portion of the gaming world and those in social isolation. In fact, it is currently the second highest most purchased game in Nintendo history (Super Smash Brothers still on top, of course). Which if you think about, is insane.
My love of the game stems back to my nostalgic younger teen years on the Nintendo GameCube console. Since then, Animal Crossing New Horizons (ACNH) has upped their game exponentially. The premise of the game is your character comes to a deserted island to start a new life. By crafting and designing you create an idyllic paradise for yourself and the other residents. The widespread adoration for this game largely revolves around the customisability you have over many aspects of the island. Think Sims or Rollercoaster Tycoon but make it cute and adorable. It is easy to spend hours manufacturing and organising every minute detail of this island to your heart’s content.
This game has provided me, and many others, the virtual escape needed in this time of social isolation. Largely due to this game, I am unfazed about the fact that I haven’t left the house in several weeks. I have been working from home, and the moment it hits 5 I jump straight on to continue my endeavours on ‘Chippy’ (yes, that is what I named my island). I’ve managed to clock up almost 100 hours of gameplay in the past month.
Alight then, so what is all the fuss really about?
On the face of it, there are several aspects of this game that I think are the biggest draw for people. I’ve briefly mentioned the customisability. Other users are able to exhibit and share their design prowess through social media, and it has garnered a rather wholesome community to share ones creations. This includes custom clothing, pathways, pictures, furniture and anything you could imagine to make your island aesthetic dreams come true.
I joined a Facebook group dedicated to sharing such things, and despite the fact that it reminds me I lack an incredible amount of creativity and imagination compared to these people, their generosity saves me hours in trying to create my own in comparison, subpar designs.
There is also general island life to enjoy and live out, making friends with residents, spending your afternoons fishing and catching bugs, or uncovering fossils to be displayed in the museum.
However, there is a much ‘darker’ side to this game that lurks within the ACNH black market. Now that this game has hit the mainstream, what was once small-knit community devoted to once-niche style of gaming has exploding in size now.
Consequently, there is a huge online network available to game the economy. Its a lucrative enough market that scammers are everywhere. They are charging exorbitant prices to visit their island, luring you in with promises of providing you the certain items, a particular villager you want to come live on your island, or maybe they have good turnip prices.
Yes, believe it or not, turnips are the fastest way to make money in the game, to become rich you gotta play the ‘stalk-market’. If you have bells (the currency), then you can significantly speed the process along and game the system to obtain all the special exclusive items to decorate your island and home with.
Everybody wants to be a ‘bell-ionaire’ and will do whatever it takes. What was once a seemingly innocent and friendly community of ACNH lovers, is slowly evolving in to a vicious, opportunistic dark corner of the internet. Even on eBay now, you can sell villagers on for a hefty price, earning yourself millions of bells. Because God forbid your island has an ‘ugly’ villager.
Of course, this game is what you make of it, and I’m trying to steer clear of those cutthroat capitalist players striking impossible deals. I am enjoying the game for its intended purpose, and slowly constructing my island, allowing it to shape and form organically.
But hey, I’m not going to turn down an island with good turnip prices so… hit me up!
– by Rachel Wong