I’m still picking away at Animal Crossing: New Horizons every so often. I’m not, nor will I ever, aim to be a person who can utilize all the game’s tools to create things as elaborate as a game-accurate recreation of Pokemon Gold & Silver, but I’m spending a lot of time making my house just how I want it. I’ve started creating my own office, right now with a desk and a podcast mic, and making that look like something functional is my main priority when I do put maybe a half hour or so into it every time I put the game in my Switch.
But between playing Final Fantasy VII Remake and starting a replay of Final Fantasy X, I haven’t been playing New Horizons nearly as much as I used to, so some parts of the game are starting to fall through the cracks. I decided to not partake in the turnip nonsense this week, have skipped out on a couple in-game hangouts, and have mostly just been checking in on the goods and clothes stores to see if there’s anything that catches my eye.
However, I recently realized that I’ve been neglecting a very specific part in my quest to only focus on furnishing my home: I haven’t spoken to my neighbors in days.
Right now, I’ve got five villagers living on my island, and each time I walk past one of them they’re extremely excited to see me and show me some new emote, give me an item, or tell me a story about a bug they saw. Whenever I decide to make my rounds, one or two of them remarks about how we “haven’t talked in ages,” but that they’ve seen me running around and I must be terribly busy if I didn’t stop to say hello.
I mean, I guess I was? These new island additions aren’t going to fund themselves, and if I don’t push my desk chair to be in just the right place to appear like a usable workspace, who will?
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I have heard (and read) a lot of people tell stories about how much they connect with different villagers in the Animal Crossing series, and how it makes seeing old friends in new games one of the biggest joys of a new entry. Even when I was writing about the upcoming events the game has planned, I couldn’t scroll by responses without seeing someone pointing out their favorite’s imminent return in New Horizons.
But I don’t think I have any of those connections yet, and I’ve been doing a pretty poor job of trying to find them. But when I talk to some of these nerds that inhabit my island now, all I get is small talk I end up skimming through and skipping past, which might be the appeal to some people, as there’s gaps to be filled in there, and as I understand it, that’s what’s fueled a lot of Animal Crossing fandom. For me, however, I’m more taken in by the slow and steady progression of building my own home, adorning it with art and furniture that’s to my liking, and living out the impossible dream of having a living space that is exclusively mine and can change and rearrange as I see fit.
Maybe I’ve had bad luck and haven’t gotten any of the “good” villagers that everyone talks about. Heck, I just met Flick, the current subject of heated online debate about the value of canon, for the first time this morning, and I’ve only had two conversations with America’s Sweetheart Isabelle. But I also don’t feel like I’m missing what I enjoy about Animal Crossing by not engaging in the social aspects. Will my feelings be hurt when someone says they’re moving away, despite having barely spoken to them? Absolutely. Will that be enough to make me engage in something that has yet to really add to my experience? Probably not.