Nintendo fans, Animal Crossing has made a comeback. This fall, on November 22, 2017, Nintendo released Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp, a game that branches from the original life simulation game series that allows players to complete tasks for animal characters, make business, and build campsites. Pocket Camp draws players in, as it is free to play and brings Nintendo gaming back to life.
Katsuya Eguchi, a Japanese video game designer, released the first version of Animal Crossing called どうぶつの森 on the GameCube in 2001. Originally, this game was exclusively for players in Japan. Throughout the years, even more versions of Animal Crossing came out, including: Wild World (2005), City Folk (2008), and New Leaf (2012).
In this semi-realistic world of Animal Crossing, players customize their own characters, do favors for anthropomorphic animal friends, and are assigned the job of being the campsite manager. With the completion of small favors, players receive rewards and use them to proceed with their building and buying. Most popular with Generation Z, the new Pocket Camp game holds a special place in the hearts of many gamers as it aims to teach players the value of friendships, sharing with others, and responsibility. Players receive points for friendship development, which is determined by the favors you’ve done for your animal friends. However, Animal Crossing’s objectives bring up the discussion of toxic friendships, consumerism, and capitalism.
Storage-consuming Pocket Camp requires full dedication to continue returning to the app and downloading more data in order to proceed. When characters make friends with animals, the goal is to have them come over to your campsite, with the stipulation that you must buy specific items of furniture as demands for the sake of the animals’ own satisfaction at your expense. Then, once your home has met their unnecessarily high standards, they come to sleep on your bed and lounge on your couch without your permission. These same lazy animal friends ask for endless favors—even when the requested items are within their reach—and only give you friendship hearts when the favors are completed. Completing repetitive and useless tasks seems to be the goal of the game.
Players can never feel complete satisfaction with their own possessions because trying to become friends with animals who demand so much fuels the need for more, hence the blatant consumerism. The act of frantically doing chores for other animals for rewards is disguised with an aesthetic environment populated by adorable animals who send you hearts when they take a liking to you. In Animal Crossing, everything comes with a reward.
Aside from your own characters and those of your friends, every inhabitant of the Animal Crossing world is an animal. However, these animals are seen eating fish and catching insects yet these captured creatures are animals themselves. What does this mean? Perhaps this game wants to imply that fish and butterflies have less value than the seemingly intelligent, two legged, talking animals. If, in this virtual world. animals are our friends, then perhaps fish and insects deserve their liberty as well as cats and birds.
With the comeback of Animal Crossing, Nintendo has seen lots of active, returning players. It is undeniable—everybody loves cute animal friends. However, with more investment in the game, players tend to discover that it is does not come with many of the features that players had loved in previous game versions. Animal Crossing has been placed under fire for its system of corruption and lack of real friendship lessons, as well as the game making less capital than originally expected. Even so, Pocket Camp’s success in virtual animation and audience attraction might be a catalyst for future innovation and gaming.
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Cummins, Eleanor. “Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp Is a Capitalistic Perversion of the Original Game.” Slate, 28 Nov. 2017.
Han, Karen. “Why Everyone You Know Is Obsessed With ‘Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp.’”Daily Beast, 30 Nov. 2017, 5:00 AM.
Suehle, Ruth. “Let’s Have a Word About ‘Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp.’” Geek Mom, 8 Dec. 2017.
Tassi, Paul. “’Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp’ Is Great, But Probably Not A Nintendo Cash Cow.” Forbes, 22 Nov. 2017, 11:56 AM.