tomorrow's calling - studying the world of Animal Crossing

Animal Crossing as a Utopia

"build a masterpiece..."

Animal Crossing's world is most certainly a utopia in several ways, especially when compared to the realities of our modern societies. Here's why I have often described it as the "digital Garden of Eden:"

No Crime, War, Hate, or Prejudice

Nobody steals things from you in Animal Crossing. Furthermore, no one would even think of entering your house to steal things, or to hurt you, or to scrawl ugly things about you on your door. You can literally walk around with tens of thousands of Bells in your pocket and nobody does anything about it (except maybe to ask you for a little loan here and there); you can be whatever and whoever you want to be without enduring hate, violence, or personal threats. And there isn't even the looming threat of a bigger war somewhere in the distance--it feels like the world of Animal Crossing exists in a safe little bubble.

Side Jobs are Legitimate Jobs/Better Economy

In Animal Crossing, "side jobs" like helping someone run an errand, finding an item for someone, or delivering a package are actual ways to make money/receive items. Also, since Tom Nook buys just about everything except garbage, you can harvest everything from fruit to seashells to fossils and sell it all for extra money. (Lord only knows what he does with all the junk I sell him!) And, no matter how much you sell back to him and buy from him, the economy is stable and prices are reasonable for everyone. What a utopia, indeed!

Urban Areas Don't Encroach on Wildlife and Nature

Animal Crossing maintains a rural aesthetic that is quite peaceful and beautiful. The "city", even in Animal Crossing: City Folk, is close enough to be accessible, yet far enough away that you don't feel hampered or boxed in by even a fantasy urban landscape. What a fantasy, indeed, when our own world is seemingly getting more and more overcrowded by the day!

Music (and Entertainment in General) is Truly Free

In Animal Crossing, there are no big musical corporations creating hit-making machines out of living breathing people, no radio stations giving certain songs and artists airplay while ignoring others...all the music in Animal Crossing's culture is created by ONE traveling musician, K.K. Slider, and he gives out his music free of charge. There's no stench of profit or marketing, no critiques about "how good the music is"--the music just IS, and is even lovelier because it is free.

You Can Change Your World

  • Trees planted in the wrong place? You can chop 'em down and replant as you like.
  • Annoyed with the weeds? You can pull them up.
  • Sick of your town flag or town tune? You can create a new one.
  • Current fashions at the Able Sisters' looking blah? You can design your own.
  • Not enough mail coming in? You can send ALL the letters you want.
  • Empty boring museum? You can acquire and donate all sorts of collectibles to fill it up.

Basically, whatever you want to change in your town, you can at least do something to improve life for yourself, and that change ripples out to others. It is a beautiful fantasy fulfillment of a very real wish to "change the world" in many people's lives, and I believe we need even that artificial hope to sustain us sometimes, when the real world feels too unmoldable and incorrigible.

Teaches Exploration, Artistic Expression, Cooperation, and Stewardship

Throughout gameplay, you benefit greatly from exploring thoroughly and often, from expressing your personality, from connecting with and depending on others, and from being responsible about your resources (to an extent). You never have to feed yourself, wash the dishes or clothes, or pay taxes, of course, but it does also teach you some money smarts (such as the idea that things cost money, and once a Bell is spent, it's spent and you can't get it back). These skills are excellent for people of all ages to practice in the virtual haven of Animal Crossing's world.