The Pressure of Making the Perfect Animal Crossing Island
For many players, Animal Crossing has become all-consuming; it’s where you hang out with your friends, where you become a turnip business person, where you go out and catch all those bugs! But what sits at the heart of every player’s game is their beautiful island. Full of creatures that you call friends, your virtual buds rely on you to create a nice place for everyone to live. Not just nice, great… perhaps even perfect. And while they may just be virtual, I’ve seen many players become consumed with the want to make the best island they possibly can, so much so that, after weeks of playing, after toiling away, they suddenly decide to restart. To erase everything and begin from scratch.
To some, this may seem weird, a foreign concept, absolutely insane. What about all those holiday items you can never get back? Your carefully selected island pals? The hours of creating pavements and cliffs, all thrown away for what? Well, for those who do it, it’s for peace of mind. Like a job, Animal Crossing: New Horizons becomes a daily chore that you have to do. Logging in, weeding, doing some upkeep on the town, catching some wildlife, maybe shooting a balloon out of the sky. More and more, video games are becoming parts of your lifestyle rather than something you play through once or twice and never look at again. And when you have to interact with it every day, it becomes something more than a game. It begins to reflect on you, represent your taste, your skills, your understanding, and care for the game. And when we feel like we aren’t doing well enough at something we spend so much of our time on, it can become disheartening.
There are images all over the internet of these beautiful island layouts, fully formed cities, and wonderful cherry blossom gardens. There’s no end to the crazy and impressive creations folks have made, and for some of us, we can’t compare. We don’t have the time, the skills, the bells to compete. And if we can’t be that good, it can be easy to lose view of what value your island has at all. Perhaps even more important is the social aspect of the game. If you’re playing Animal Crossing, chances are you are playing online, meaning you are inviting folks to your island, sharing what progress you’ve made, what islanders you’ve met, etc. And if you can’t take pride in your own island, chances are every time someone enters your world, you worry feverishly if it’s good enough. Will they like it? Or is this just a disaster? I’m one of the odd players in that I don’t really interact with the online world. I don’t want to pay for poor-working internet services, and frankly I don’t want to compare my island to others. This island is mine, and I’ll do as well or as poorly as I want. But inviting that comparison, suggesting that one island might be better than another, invites the opportunity for me to not care, to just give up on my island because there will always be someone out there who’s better than me. But that’s okay. I can be okay with that. But in order to help facilitate that okay-ness, I also choose to allow my island to be separate from the rest, hidden from the internet. This won’t be everyone’s cup-of-tea, but what I will say is that if you’re finding your island lacking, remember that what makes it special is that it’s yours. You made that island, and it’s lovely. I’m proud of you.
Do you find yourself comparing your work to others? Have you chosen to reset your game out of desperation? Let me know your thoughts down below, I’d be curious to hear your experience.