One of the cutest online games, Animal Crossing, has gained a lot of popularity in the 7 to 50 years and up crowd!
What is it? Animal Crossing is a video game series developed and published by Nintendo.It can be a real-time multiplayer game because you can invite other players to join you on your island or visit other islands, but mostly you play alone. Some would describe it as a social simulation game. The graphics are beautiful and charming. The lighting is exceptionally well done. For example, how the sky is depicted at different times of day is astonishing. The way the sunlight glints off the water, the colors change over time and seasons, and the opportunities for customizing your character, all make for a delightful visual experience. The audio is simple but light and fun. You can chat with others, but it’s clunky and limited. Chat is locked down, so you can’t interact easily with people who aren’t your friends, but with great effort, you can seek out other islands to visit online and interact with others. Nobody can approach a player in-game and initiate a conversation without permission.
How Is Animal Crossing Played? Players are placed on an island by the Nook Corporation with two other islanders. They then complete tasks or chores and are rewarded with bells (the island currency) or Nook miles, which can be redeemed for various rewards, such as tickets to visit other islands that can be mined for supplies or hard-to-obtain items. Over time, players can populate their islands with CPU characters or other people who play on their console and improve their house, obtain clothing, purchase, or earn items to decorate their home and island, and (if you buy the expansion pack) get a job as an interior designer and decorate other homes to earn more resources.
What’s Enjoyable In This Game? One player’s favorite part of playing the game was snorkeling in the ocean and catching fish and sea creatures. During the pandemic, some players would go on “dates” to the islands with museums or swimming together. An adult player shares she loved playing with her nieces and nephew, who would play Hide and Seek, or bug-catching challenges with her. Some examples players were excited about sharing were the unique spaces they customized on their island, like a Jurassic Park area, a labyrinth, an ax-throwing range, and a farm-to-table café.
Why Is This Game So Popular? Animal Crossing is a Nintendo game that has been around for some time, but it became popular at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. It provided an escape, something to do in a setting that was ideal and not judgmental or stressful (You can’t die in this game. The worst repercussion is that your house gets cockroaches if you don’t play for a while. You can get stung by bees and bit by a spider or scorpion, but this doesn’t kill you and can be avoided. This version launched during the pandemic introduced the capability to visit other islands providing a substitute for the missing social experiences with “hangouts” at different player’s islands.
There are no controls that you must get good at and no situations where something suddenly pops up that you must deal with RIGHT THIS MINUTE. It’s chill, low-key, and social.
Animal Crossings Target Audience? Tweens and young teens since they are the target audiences for a lot of non-violent video games, but kids as young as seven or younger that can read and use the Switch controls are playing successfully. Nintendo also decided to market to adults, as many of the items you can obtain in-game would be of greater interest to adults.
How Much Does It Cost To Play? One needs the Nintendo switch ($299) to play, Wii, or cube to run the software and controls. It is $59.99 to purchase as a download or to get the physical software to plug into the equipment. There are different versions, and the prices run from $29.99 to $59.99.
One version called “Animal Crossing Pocket Camp” which can be found through Apple or Google can be played on your phones or tablets. It is “free” but has in-app purchases available.
The switch is a handheld device, like a very sophisticated Gameboy, with a screen, computer, and controls built in. With a switch in hand, one can subscribe to Nintendo Switch Online for $19.99 to $34.99 a year, including Animal Crossing as part of the package.
Our Advice? Animal Crossing is a great game to connect with friends, family, and your creative side. Many players have said the game’s novelty wore off as the world reopened from the pandemic shutdown. However, it was a relaxing way to spend their time, and they still find the game a great stress reliever but not for the many hours they were previously playing.
This game has no violence or profane language, and it is non-competitive. People like to show off their creations in the game, but there is no winning or losing. It’s a great game to unwind and be creative and offers opportunities to build problem-solving, collaboration, and communication skills.
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