There's always that one guy who says, "I've played Animal Crossing but I don't get it.
Then again, Animal Crossing was probably a precursor to the slew of games that people don't get. Games with a vague goal; where the enjoyment is difficult to describe and is just there. But there are some things that are probably easier to explain as to why Animal Crossing is enjoyable. I mean, it's not accurate to call it a life simulator like lazier gamers would call it. No, that would be a disservice to how enjoyably idealistic Animal Crossing is compared to real life. Animal Crossing lets you escape real life to a better, simpler life. Something compelling enough to say, leave a party early because Crazy Redd is going to pack up his black market soon and seeing if he has any rare swag is much better than celebrating your friend's birthday.
No, no. Animal Crossing is better than real life. So much better that it's almost a shame the next iteration isn't on a home console because it gives you an excuse to go home. But seriously, any boring moment can be passed if you have Animal Crossing in your back pocket.
You get to be a home owner with zero interest
I don't even own a home and I know the process isn't like buying a candy bar. People don't just have enough money laying around to buy a house in cash. No sir, if I am to understand adult life correctly, there are things called loans and mortgages you use because, "You're not rich don't lie to yourself. We'll help you pay off this house but we're not just giving you money. If you take too long, there's this thing called interest that accumulates for no reason other than our own profit, so get to paying it slugger and enjoy your new house!
In Animal Crossing, the resident entrepenuer, Tom Nook, is usually despised for what is essentially indentured servitude. Only he simply gets a bad rap because he asks you to buy a house without letting you so much as say no. But he lets you buy a house interest free. Hell, your house is essentially free if you decide to never give Nook any bells, the currency of Animal Crossing. Just wanna live in a shack and never give Nook a dime? There's no interest, or loan sharks, or repo men. You essentially pay off your house the same way you'd pay for Sony's online Playstation services: you can pay them money for Plus but no one's going to make you break your back for that money. You can easily still play online and not pay a cent. So in this sense, you can continue to have a roof over your head and never need to pay a bell. But paying off those loans gets you expansions after all.
The economy is bursting and independent
I get an average of 24 hours a week at my part-time job working at a theme park, working that minimum wage plus premiums depending on the time and job. I wouldn't be able to afford your average rent on my own though, let alone buy fancy things. Most people my age around me find a roommate to split an apartment.
That's some Lost World stuff going on here
But in Animal Crossing, you can sell the fruit you find on trees and make enough money to buy what? Enough stuff to furnish your newly expanded home? Items include a grandfather clock, chic drawer, and even a whole bed. Not to mention the clothing you can buy. All off what can only be considered day laborer work.
There's fruit to harvest, random furniture and clothing to sell second hand, a thriving ecosystem to be exploited (RED SNAPPERS), and every town seems to be built on top of prime archaeological real estate where you can sell fossils for capitalistic gain. The cultural advancement of my home town? Yeah right! Take that boney gold to the nearest Nook's chain and get cold hard bells for it.
Interpersonal relations are easy and binary
Human interaction is complex and annoying. Say you want to talk to a friend about that awesome pie you ate and they think pies rock. But make a new friend and if you bring up your favorite and extremely important pie small talk, they'll rebuff you because their father was killed by a pie and now you've dredged up some painful memories that just kills the whole conversation. And the next person loves pies but only apple pies and if you bring up anything else like peach cobbler, he's going to call you a pie scrub and tell you to take your bitch ass somewhere else.
Interacting with your neighbors in Animal Crossing is far easier and while perhaps a bit simplistic, it makes enjoying their company much easier compared to guess-the-pie-temperament of most real humans.
Now, I don't want to call them shallow, but your neighbors will be easy to understand and easy to get along with. All Rex the lion wants to talk about is that dream he had about how he ate a marshmellow and how his pillow disappeared in the morning. Basically, he wants to talk about food all the time and maybe he's a stoner. Meanwhile, there's Goose the chicken. He's a meathead of an exercise freak but at least he won't be dropping any bombs about how his friend the other day told him how much of a jerk he is and why he thinks everyone else is so wrong in their opinions. No sir, he's going to talk about how many push ups he can do because he is proud of his abs goddammit.
Start up a random conversation and they might even give you a present! And they'll never expect anything in return. You could just be talking about the weather then bam! He gives you a sweet new table to put your pies on.
I live in Southern California, which is basically all car and commuter culture. Anyplace I want to go to, I have to drive there. Work is always a 2 hour drive, friends are a half hour away, and shopping is 15. I have to always think about my gas and the commute time and while I've been to rural areas where everything is much further apart, commuter life still makes the world feel spaced out.
But in Animal Crossing, everything's within walking distance. The stores, neighbors, friends, the museum, and even other towns are only a small train ride away. Public transportation is almost binary there! Here, I have to worry about bus routes and train schedules but in Animal Crossing, if I want to visit another town, I just hop on a train and it's always on time; my time
Want a change of pace? There are constantly new faces visiting and setting up shop. Flea markets, touring clothing designers, wandering artists, and aliens who are actually animals in possession of flying saucer technology. You never have to go far to find something interesting and likewise, your trip back home to kick back is never going to be long. Stay out too late on a fishing trip for exotic fish? No problem. My house is literally 5 minutes away.
Anyone can be an artist
So say inspiration strikes you and you want to suddenly paint your own design and put it on the wall. Well, good luck on the supplies and application but after it's all said and done, what then? Just put it on your sidewalk and ask for takers? A hobo is more likely to sell his wares then you at that point. Everyone could use a clean windshield.
But make a design in Animal Crossing and suddenly not only can it be displayed anywhere, it's fits into an almost universal design slot. A fancy pattern can be both a nice shirt and a creative wallpaper! Plus the Able Sisters will always proudly display your creative endeavors. Not to mention how easy it is to visit other towns and peruse that town's own indie designers.
I'm sorry, is actually making the pattern too hard for you? Well now you can take a snap shot of a QR code and have the pattern instantly assembled for you! Think of all the Link shirts there'll be floating around! It definitely will not be so indie at that point.
Real life is a pain in the ass compared to living with animals. Everyone wants to be your friend and everything is cheaper without sacrificing quality. Compared to real life which can be filled with backstabbers trying to hawk knock off goods to you with their exorbitant prices in an attempt to prey off whatever is left of your good side.
Let's face it, when Animal Crossing New Leaf comes out, life will be better if only so we can finally have a second, more enjoyable life.