Okay, this is kind of a cheater entry into the SNS series because in terms of problematic content, Animal Crossing: New Leaf has very few, barring the lack of customization for skin colour. (And many other writers than me have already tackled it.)
But being absorbed so thoroughly into a game (I’ve logged 131 hours since June 9th!) has left me a mostly-unresponsive meat envelope, intent on getting that perfect fruit, or completing that furniture set, or getting as many bells as I can to stuff into Tom Nook’s greedy pockets – which can be a problem. I described ACNL to someone as “easy to learn, but difficult to master”. Mastery, unlike a lot of other games, doesn’t come so much from skill, but from time invested. Many of the projects you want to complete only occur in real time – if you want to upgrade your house, work isn’t complete till the next day. If you finish paying off a public works project, it won’t be built till the next day. Everything happens in real-time in the game, unlike other sim games where time is accelerated.
It’s also like a very slow-paced MMO – your town gates can be opened so your friends can visit, look around your town, shop the wares on Main Street, trample your flowers and scare your villagers. Alternately, they can open their town gates, and you can go visit them. You can trade furniture with one another, send letters to them or their townspeople, or have really intense conversations:
This I think is the killer crux of the game – the possibilities are pretty much limitless. No matter if you’ve maxed out your house expansions – you can always change the exterior, or completely redo a room. Clothing designs in the shops seem blah? Design your own! Share them online. Keep talking to your villagers to unlock new projects to build, and shopping at your stores to expand their wares and selection. Holidays and festivals have special events and items. Try and get horrible villagers to move, or keep ones you like in your town forever. Save all the bells and get achievements and rewards. Try and max out your bug collection, or your fish one. Collect (genuine) art for your museum.
Alternately, if you’re not a perfectionst with an addictive personality, Animal Crossing is a great game to pick up and play for a few minutes a day. Of course, if you’re susceptible to emotional manipulation, your villagers tend to get sad about your lack of presence, and your town gets covered in weeds. But there’s nothing stopping you from just playing the turnip market once a week, or checking now and then to water your flowers and check your mail.
Plus who could forget this video?
So yeah, I play animal crossing. And I’m only sorry because sometimes I have to push Gary off my stomach so I can catch a rare golden stag. I’m sorry little buddy.