Animal Crossing’s technicity

Animal Crossing is a very simple, casual game. By no means does the game necessarily challenge the player as its ethos is crafting, building relationships, making money, and customizing your island to express yourself or impress friends. So for a game like this, what kind of technicity does it develop? As Dovey and Kennedy state in their book Game Cultures “[t]echnicity can thus be understood as a site of cultural hegemony “ (64), therefore to find this, one must identify the dominant cultural within the game. The biggest one, being that of designers.

Animal Crossing is a relaxing game, but doesn’t want you to spend many hours per session to get the full enjoyment of the game. It takes around 6–12 months at minimum to fully enjoy what the game has to offer the player, so it encourages daily play, which some players might say is a chore, but doesn’t force the player to do so. It lets the player go at their own pace.

In recent years, the game has placed more of an emphasis on creating and curating the island to the player’s vision, which has in turn spawned a small sub-culture of artists and designers. This subculture is so popular, spin-off games like the Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp, and Happy Home Designer enjoyed a fair amount of success among its players. In addition the in-game stock market has developed a small-time investment community which have lead to even some players developing apps to predict the “Stalk Market” using statistical analysis from past prices.

These conditions and expectations of the game on a physical level allow the player to simply relax and veg out. Your back may be reclined and your head is held back. There is very little movement encouraged aside from the simple press of a button or nudge of a joystick. On a cultural level, Animal Crossing has a diverse community, and while a majority of players within ages 20–40, male and female players are evenly split. In addition, players are not specifically hard-core gamers or casual gamers either. It is hard to point to any specific segment of the users that enjoy Animal Crossing that the game develops a culture that produces them. The game rather allows the player to get more in touch of their creativity and humanity; the designer becomes the dominant technicity. It is shown when advancing cultural development by populating the museum, developing roads, showcasing the island with other players, and designing clothes, interiors, and island architecture.

I believe it’s this aspect that keeps players coming back, gathering resources, studying the game, designing worlds, and sharing their work with others. It’s refreshing and lovable core made me a fan for the past 15 years.

Here is some gameplay from Nintendo to explain: