“Does Animal Crossing promote Otaku Citizenship?” That’s the question posed by the latest PBS Idea Channel video, and its exploration of the topic should not be missed.
Animal Crossing: New Leaf is the newly-released, latest entry in Nintendo’s Animal Crossing franchise. As with its predecessors, New Leaf offers players the chance to explore a sleepy town populated entirely by anthropomorphic animals, tons of secrets to discover, and bees that exist purely to screw up the picture on your official Mayor’s badge.
PBS’ Idea Channel is a YouTube channel that explores pop culture topics in an erudite, clever fashion. Its content generally tends toward the geeky, but the main theme running throughout all of the clips is one of examining concepts that otherwise go largely undiscussed (mostly because few, if any gaming journalists thought of these topics before PBS got to them – the Idea Channel is impressively infuriating in that way).
The latest Idea Channel video (which you can find embedded at top-right) begs the question “Does Animal Crossing promote Otaku Citizenship?” For the purposes of this arguement, the Idea Channel is relying on the broad, proper definition of “otaku,” which is best described as a person with an intense devotion to a particular idea and a compulsion to collect and categorize as many related concepts as possible. Think: A gamer who owns hundreds of classic games, or a comic book fan with stacks of longboxes in the attic.
The Idea Channel video points out that this idea of wanton, unbridled hoarding is a key aspect of the Animal Crossing franchise, only made more appealing by the new additions found in New Leaf. It’s a game with no true “end,” and one can only really “beat” the thing by gathering enough items to satisfy whatever personal requirements you might have decided on as a victory condition. Given the number of items to be found in Animal Crossing, it’s easy to see why this can take players months or even years.
If nothing else, this clip should spark a discussion on why exactly we like Animal Crossing so much. I’ve spent every single day since launch playing the thing, and I’ve yet to figure it out, so maybe a spirited discussion in the comments below will help us all find clarity.
Or failing that, we can trade durian.