Sep 5, 2013

[Consumption vs Naturalism in Animal Crossing]

via Gamasutra
"Animal Crossing deploys a procedural rhetoric about the repetition of mundane work as a consequence of contemporary material property ideals. When my (then) five-year-old began playing the game seriously, he quickly recognized the dilemma he faced. On the one hand, he wanted to spend the money he had earned from collecting fruit and bugs on new furniture, carpets, and shirts. On the other hand, he wanted to pay off his house so he could get a bigger one like mine. Then, once he did amass enough savings to pay off his mortgage, the local shopkeeper and real estate tycoon Tom Nook offered to expand his house. While it is possible to refrain from upgrading, Nook, an unassuming raccoon, continues to offer renovations as frequently as the player visits his store. My son began to realize the trap he was in: the more material possessions he took on, the more space he needed, and the more debt he had to take on to provide that space. And the additional space just fueled more material acquisitions, continuing the cycle."
  One thing that I have never seen anyone else notice or remark on about Animal Crossing, is the fact that all the housing items in the game are represented by a leaf icon whenever dropped  on the ground outside a building. The significance of that may be lost on most Westerners who aren't familiar with the Japanese mythology that surrounds the animal that Tom Nook is -- which is to say he's actually a tanuki, and not a raccoon.

  Tanuki are known for casting enchantments on things like leaves to make them look like treasure, and tricking stupid humans with it. When the tanuki magic wears off, the objects are revealed to actually be worthless. In other words, signs may be pointing to Tom Nook's entire business being more of a scam than Crazy Redd's black market. =P

  The fact that this tanuki trickery seems to be alluded to in Animal Crossing is very interesting, and even more so in the context of the above article, in my opinion.