“Animal Crossing” and the importance of life simulation games in 2021


These times like to offer us a frustrating lesson in limits. No one likes to feel helpless, but time and time again, recent events have left us with that impression. As we try to stay healthy, rally around the movements we believe in, and maintain a sense of normalcy, we cannot, in totality, control the people around us or the natural world, be it them. forest fires or viruses.

However, I think it is imperative to always do what we can to improve things. I also believe, perhaps just as strongly, that it is important to be gentle with ourselves and take action to cope and preserve ourselves during what every email I have received in the past nine. recent months call “unprecedented moments”. I have achieved this by playing simulation games, especially life simulation games.

Simulation games span a broad category of games, containing titles like Pokémon Snap and Reel fishing To Trauma center and NBA 2K21. Pretty much any game that replicates real world activity is considered a simulation, but there are more distinct categories like sports, vehicle, and dating sims. Prior to 1999, the majority of the games I played were action-adventure and platform games. Partly because I was, you know, six years old, and also because so much was done back then. But everything changed for me when I found Harvest Moon: back to nature.

To this day, I can’t tell you what made a farming simulator so appealing to an undemanding girl in work living in the English suburbs, although I do speculate on the allure of choice and romantic pretty women. did most of the work there. What I can tell you though is that despite its niche, I was completely obsessed with Harvest moon– obsessed to the point of having a spiral-bound notebook full of pages upon pages of game notes that was only taken out when my mom bought the strategy guide for me. While I made my debut in the good old mineral town, a big move to a side street in a small town was around the corner – and it was a move that was going to drastically change the way I viewed gaming. .

Prior to The sims Released in 2000, I thought there were two fairly distinct categories of games: narrative games and, for lack of a better term, “game-y games” – titles driven by mechanics and goals rather than the characters or the plot. Now if we were to place The sims in one of Child Me’s highly academic classifications, its sandbox elements and lack of intrigue would put it straight into the “play games” pile. But what does The sims the ease with which the player can challenge this is so compelling. While The sims lack of an established story, compelling characters or, dammit, an ending, the very nature of the game allows players to build all of these elements on their own. I had no idea how important, exciting and therapeutic this was to me until I digged.

In The sims, you have the ability to create lives and stories as dramatic or boring as you want. Whether you want to create the perfect nuclear family, roam the city playing Don Juan, or take control of a young widow taking advantage of the estate her late husband left behind, you have the tools and creative control to do it. . But the game quickly became more than just a creative exercise for me. Thinking back to the types of families I created, more often than not I stepped away from cheat codes and love triangles and devoted my time to creating simple, loving families – families that I felt were different from. mine.

The early 2000s were a particularly tumultuous time for me: my sister was born extraordinarily premature and disabled, and my parents divorced after witnessing years of fighting and infidelity. My fractured family moved several times, and all of this was punctuated by the start of the American War on Terror, which impacted my military father who was going to serve in Iraq. Amidst the chaos, my mundane sim families became a little solace. A reminder that despite everything, I could still prevent something from falling apart. I used The sims tell the stories I wanted to hear.

To a lesser extent, I still use a lot of games to do this and I know I’m not alone. Life sims, as well as games that borrow these concepts, such as choice-driven RPGs or sandbox survival games, have only grown in popularity in recent years. We are now ten extensions in depth The sims 4 and Valley of stars remains a dazzling success that perfectly captures and develops the ideas that made the Harvest moon awesome series, and one that still sees loving adjustments from its developer years after its release in 2016. While the amount of power we have over the narratives of these games varies, we do depend on simulation games to deliver a the semblance of control and the promise of choice, and these qualities are even more important when we think we don’t have them. At times like now.

That is why Animal Crossing New: Horizons came at such a opportune time for so many people. I won’t venture into conspiracy theories here, nor do I think timing is the only one responsible for the game’s success: I have few doubts. Animal crossing: new horizons would have sold a lot of copies if it had been released in a more ordinary year, but I doubt even less that those weird times contributed to its downright staggering sales. Barely five months after its release, New Horizons has firmly established itself as the second best-selling game on Nintendo Switch, surpassing both Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild– the latter was the launch title for the console. And I don’t believe the reason for Animal Crossing: New Horizons’ the popularity was as simple as “it was something to do”. I think it goes a little further.

For many, New Horizons provided lightness, routine and control in a time when it’s desperately craved. In a time when some of us don’t know when we’ll be able to set foot on a school campus again, the tiniest bit of solace can be found in knowing that the fruits you’ve plucked from those digital trees will grow back in three days. , ready for you to choose and sell once again. While our world has given up on the routine, you can make your own when you live island life. Like all the games mentioned above in the long tradition of the genre, Animal crossing: new horizons gave us the ability to create and interact with a world in a way that is meaningful to us. It is free from disasters and diseases and gives us a place to smile and dream. Of course, this is not a cure or an escape, but it does inspire a feeling that is worth keeping close at this time. As The sims allows us to create the stories we want to hear, Animal crossing allows us to create a world as sweet and simple as we wish ours could be.

In an age when so much is uncertain, life simulation games offer us both entertainment and a semblance of control, but they are much more than a little comfort or a silly distraction – they are a method of carrying on. to live in a world without consequences and uncontrollable variables. Whether being locked up has left us yearning for the extraordinary, or perhaps the sorely missed mundane, these games allow us to live out those fantasies, whether as a soft-spoken sim, a slime-killer farmer. or benevolent cherub surrounded by sarcastic critters. They also serve as a vessel for self-exploration in a unique way, acting as a kind of interactive journal where self-discovery occurs through the stories and worlds we create, which perhaps is their quality. most powerful at the moment. Where there is a lack of history, there is space to write your own. In our current stalemate, there is comfort in finding a way to let the ink flow.


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