Journal Entry - 9/24/02
Hi there, old chum! Sorry I haven't written in a while, but dang - I've been busy. For the last few weeks, I've been living in the world of Animal Crossing. There's always something to do, something to get done. Busy, busy, busy.
I remember first moving in just as September was starting in the 'normal' world. And whaddaya know? It was September in Animal Crossing. Same time, same date, thanks to the real-time, real-world nature of the game. Well, that is if my mystical portal has been properly calibrated. Most people call this portal a "Gamecube." Go figure.
As my train rolled into the station, a friendly cat named Rover asked me about myself. I told him my name was LiU and that I was headed towards a humble little burg named "Berkeley." Rover just so happened to have a friend there who could give me the hookup on a job.
That "friend" of his is the megalomaniac, Tom Nook. Ruling with an iron first, he forced me into a life of indentured servitude while being cooped up in a ramshackle hovel. He made me do... CHORES! Like running back and forth between villagers delivering their crap.
I kid, I kid. Nook is a pretty decent guy, even though the house he gave me was more like a shack and I had to work for a short bit to pay off part of my debt. But after I was off Nook's leash, I found a satisfying line of work in the goods industry. Foolish Nook will buy nearly anything I throw at him! Bugs, fish, fruit, spare kidneys, you name it!
Fishing and bug catching require some deft timing skills, but will net a higher profit. There's also Turnip speculating. The price of turnips fluctuates, so buying low and selling high can net a tidy profit. Still, after fishing for hours on end, I find myself wishing for some real occupations.
Capitalism in Animal Crossing rocks! If only it were that easy in real life. I take all the money I earn from my "job" and use it to pay off my housing debts or buy junk with which to furnish my home. Sometimes if I help a neighbor make a delivery or a pickup, he'll be generous enough to give up a shirt or a piece of furniture.
The coolest things to get here are NES games. They are few and far between, but it's nifty using my Gamecube portal to emulate classics like Pinball, Tennis, and possibly even Super Mario.
After I finally finished paying off my first housing debt, Nook offered to upgrade my home. I don't know how he managed to excavate an entire basement over a single night while I was sleeping, but I think he has an ultra-secret army of ninja contractors to do his dirty bidding. Why doesn't he use the ninjas to do his chores, too?
Sadly, my house can only be updated a maximum of 5 times into a cozy two-story home. Yes, it does take a while, especially with the debts that will surmount, but 5 updates feels a little slim. Where's my mountain villa with a Jacuzzi and mile-long driveway? After all, I deserve it. Stealing fruits from trees is hard work. Heh.
Once, late at night, I saw my neighbor Murphy wandering through the forest, so I thought I'd surround and trap him with a few holes. But after leaving him alone and coming back, I realized that the holes magically fill themselves in. Lucky for Murphy Animal Crossing isn't a violent place. I can't klonk Bob on the head with a shovel and bury him away, or ensnare an unsuspecting Lulu with my hook of doom. There are traps in which you can catch an unwary villager, but that's just simple mischief.
It's a breath of fresh air to have a nonviolent place you can bring kids to without any misgivings. Maybe they'll learn about the importance of debt reduction as well.
Someone here once told me that happiness comes from having a room full of great stuff. I disagree. I've always found happiness through my friends and family in the normal world. And with that, my animal "friends" here in the city of Berkeley really can't compare. They are, well, noticeably stupid.
I wrote one neighbor a letter with only one word on it: "Friend!" They replied that I wrote too many complicated words. I can think of other one-worded letters to write them in the future. I think I'll attach some garbage to it as well. Not that they can even tell the difference.
Each villager has his or her own personal speech pattern; they append a catch phrase at the tail end of everything they say. It helps to distinguish everyone and creates personality, but when you really think about it, they're all just dipping from the same pool of dialogue. One person might pull up the exact same dialogue bit as someone I just talked to. It really kills the illusion that these guys are all independent, thinking woodland creatures.
Perhaps these villagers are actually some Borg-like entity just waiting to pull me into the Collective. Then again, with how much time I've been spending here, I think it's too late.
So I decided to take a break for a week, inviting some friends of mine to borrow my mystical portal and venture into Berkeley. When I returned, the locals said they missed seeing me. And then they returned to their stupidity. Bugs started to crawl around in my home. Blech! How awful!
Human competition definitely makes Animal Crossing a much more interesting place to visit. The first person to play each day will get the best chance to find the daily hidden items. A certain neighbor of mine always manages to wake up before me and dig up all the valuables and buy out all the goods, cleaning out Nook's store. So I buried garbage in her front yard.
Sometimes I think about how much fun this world would be if it were truly connected to other cities across some digital highway. If only there was some way to break the limit of one human playing at time. I could have a friend visit me from far away, and we could essentially converse in real-time like instant messaging. And this diary would be more like a log. And then true updates and special events could be loaded in as well. [And then the game would be called The Sims Online - Ed.]
Nonetheless, there are still ways I can visit other cities. I'll need to have another city held within a memory card. Even handier, I can trade items with anyone via passwords. Someone only needs to know that my name is LiU and my city is Berkeley, and then they can get a password to transport stuff to me. (Oh, how I do wish people would send me nifty things. Hint, hint. )
More interesting items can be unlocked using the Nintendo eReader. As far as I know, Animal Crossing cards are not capable of generating new items, only recalling items that are already existing within the annals of the game. The eReader works with the Game Boy Advance, which can be used for some cursory functions in Animal Crossing, including playing NES games, but nothing pivotal.
While I can't describe this city as cutting edge visually, it has its own charm in understated yet colorful and bright graphics. There's always a catchy tune in the air, sometimes a touch jazzy, other times something peppy. Totakeke the dog, known about these parts as K.K., spends his Saturday nights lounging at the train steps, happy to dispense his flavorful folk tunes.
Yes, diary of mine, this place can be addictive, but eventually, I can see my interest begin to waver. My house will be as big as it can possibly be. Sure, I might check in occasionally for special holidays and events, but by then the materialism will have worn away and I'll be stuck here with a bunch of stupid animals that I can't kill. And instead of actually directly playing with other people, I'd only be talking of my city and dispensing passwords here and there. But a world without any specific goals or responsibilities that runs in tandem with my 'normal' world has indeed been fun to visit, and I heartily recommend that others see what lies in their own personal Animal Crossing.
So until next time,