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The Madness Of Animal Crossing

Looking at how I spent the majority of the last few weeks, a lot of was watching too much Game Grumps.  Arin and Danny are the two likable art school roomies I never had.  However, I suspect a greater part of my impetus towards progress was robbed, one or two hours of each and every day, via a sneaky little time thief known as Animal Crossing: New Leaf.  Why do I feel like my reasons for playing this game are not entirely pure?

Part of that was because I recognized that this game is a quadruple-reinforced Skinner's Box.  The villagers give things out constantly for a wide variety of reasons.  Even the very trees are like slot machines: pull them and see what falls out.  In these ways and many others, everything the player does gives them a little endorphin hit, and so an association with such a game seems a tad unwholesome.  Am I playing this game, or is it just an addiction?
Don't Google image search Isabelle Animal Crossing if you want to keep her innocence in tact.
The other part of this is because I'm probably a bit of a closet furry.  Never enough to attend to a furry fandom convention, mind you; I'm not that into it.  But where many would look at an anthropomorphic character in the light of a kids mascot, a furry considers these hybrids in terms of their fascinating possibilities.  I think it has to do with an excess of creativity.
It's necessary to frame a definition of, "Furry."
The animals' personalities are certainly transparent enough.  Have you ever played with a Magic 8-Ball or similar device?  They work entirely on the basis that their users will interpret a random response as uncannily relevant.  Now, imagine if your Magic 8-Ball was upgraded to a cute little robot with eight distinct personalities, hundreds of responses, and granted the ability to play a few mini-games and vend rewards for your interaction.  Animal Crossing characters are that upgraded Magic 8-Ball.

Magic 8-Balls are entertaining for a time, but you are likely to get bored with them.  Get bored enough, you might start posing it absurd questions, just for the puerile humor of it.  Silly robot, I know you don't know what you're saying.  Oh, but how uncanny it is for you to give me that response... the imagination gets involved, and so goes the descent into madness, a perhaps inevitable perversion of innocence when boredom, creativity, and adult sensibilities meet. 

It's quite the animalistic crossing.
Then I take a step back and look at what I'm playing.  In Animal Crossing, the animal facades on these digital Magic 8-Balls highly resemble children.  If I treated a child like that, it would be pretty messed up.  But are they children?  Of course not, they're just Magic 8-Balls in chibi fur suits.  Even in the canon of the game, they've struck out to live on their own as an adult would, and they're not exactly human.  What phase of their lives are they supposed to be in, exactly?
After all, this is Japan we're talking about.
The answer in this postmodern world is probably, "Whatever the viewer wants them to be, as long as they're paying us for the experience."  When modern art has become innately irresponsible, perhaps a certain level of madness is the new norm.

I think the main line of separation between true madness is knowing the difference between fantasy and reality, and I am fairly certain I still know what that difference is.  Nevertheless, if endorphin hits and the cheap thrills of misappropriated Magic 8-Balls are my primary motivations to play the game, maybe I should stop playing.
Or as Yahtzee astutely observes, the mistake was probably in starting.
The game turns this concern right around and skewers me with insidious operant conditioning.  Sure, I could stop playing Animal Crossing, but then there might just be something being sold in the Nookling's Store that day that I'll never ever get a chance to obtain for my catalogue ever again. What about earning those coveted golden tools?  It even dangles a sword of Damocles that one of your most beloved neighbors might move out if you're not around to convince them otherwise.
I still have yet to win the Happy Home Academy's highest honor for interior decoration.
Only true boredom can get me off this hook.  I burned out from this game once already in 2013, but in April of this year the hook was reset.  Part of that was because of time spent away from the game, but also the Welcome Amiibo update added a slew of new content, and restarting my little village gave me a lot more things to do than I had before.

Fortunately, I am rapidly reaching boredom saturation again.  I am thinking I might just go for a full Harmonious theme of my house, adopt the Beautiful Town ordinance, and get the hell off this time drain train... at least until they put out one for the Switch.


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