Almost single-handedly, Animal Crossing: New Horizons is saving us from the coronavirus pandemic. Or at least the boredom of staying trapped inside for weeks on end.
The game has sold millions of copies on multiple continents; it’s truly a worldwide phenomenon. But with millions of players come millions of playstyles, and some Animal Crossing elitists are taking issue with a longtime gimmick.
Their gripes have never seemed less relevant.
Animal Crossing runs in real-time. This means players have to wait overnight for a new town upgrade or a new villager to move in. To get around waiting, impatient players adjust their Nintendo Switch’s internal clock.
This “time-skipping” gimmick has been around since the GameCube days. Players have used it for everything from farming the game’s currency – bells – to acquiring new furniture.
Using time-skipping, some New Horizons players have built massive houses or accumulated ridiculously high bell counts that simply wouldn’t have been possible without tinkering with the console’s internal clock.
No one cared about time-skippers when the first Animal Crossing title came out in 2001. Back then, you were free to time-skip without judgment or apology.
But what wasn’t a “problem” before has become one thanks to social media. Fans innocently showing off their upgraded villages are being shamed by purists.
My only question is: Who cares?
Animal Crossing is a game for chilling out. You build out your village, catch some bugs, and hang out on your own virtual island.
Why are some gamers getting so offended by how others play?
It’s strange to see such gatekeeping from a franchise built around… doing nothing. If players want to hop ahead to gain more instead of waiting around, so be it.
Does it offend purists? Do they feel that their accomplishments are less valid? That insecurity has nothing to do with time-travel. It shouldn’t matter what others are doing – as long as they’re playing how they want.
After all, players want to see Isabelle, the franchise’s best character.
It’s worth noting that time-skipping does present players with unique challenges , especially when they “abuse” it. Villagers will leave or grow dissatisfied. Towns will be full of weeds. And – at least right now – you can’t skip ahead to holiday events.
I’ll leave you Animal Crossing purists with one final thing to ponder: If New Horizon’s developers don’t want players time-traveling, they can easily intensify those punishments in future updates. So let them punish gamers who abuse the system. You should allow your fellow gamers to play how they want to.