I’m an Animal Crossing Minimalist… and That’s Okay

Nine years ago, when we got our Wii, my husband and kids tried to get me to play Animal Crossing. I created my character, and then, to my utter horror, I was thrown into a world of debt. I now owed this conniving raccoon a ton of bells.

“Don’t worry, Mom,” and when you pay that off, you get a bigger house!”

“For free?”

“Nope, you have to pay that off, too.”

This sounded way too much like life. Why in the world would I play a game about debt and materialism where I had to weed????

So my kids had to deal with their eccentric mother’s empty house and take care of her yard so that the village didn’t go to trash. Now there’s a lesson to prepare them for the future.

Fast Forward to New Horizons

Okay, I’d possibly go into debt to live on a deserted island. Especially one with a rockin’ free museum and K.K. concerts.

Not like this one doesn’t hit you in the face, either. Tom Nook invited me to his deserted island and when I landed, he slapped me with debt in his own novel currency system — Nook Miles. Great…a rewards program.

But I had the last laugh. I pitched my tent on the beach and there I sit.

A story from Papua New Guinea

I was told a story that goes something like this:

A (PNG) man is sitting on the beach fishing. A white man comes up and tells him he should be working. The man asks him why, and the white man goes through a long list of things that he should do involving getting a job and building wealth… so that when he’s old, he can sit on the beach and fish.

This story flows through my New Horizons character arc.

My simple life

So I wake up and come out of my tent. I gather shells and catch fish. I go to the museum because it’s so dang cool. I sell things several times a day. If there’s fruit, I pick some of them. I shoot balloons out of the sky so that I can receive gifts from the sky gods. 9 times out of 10, I sell those, too, or give them to my neighbors. I go look at the sunset.

I’ve kept a few cool things. I gather round the campfire with my really cool family of giant stuffed bears.

At the end of the “day,” I go to the bank machine and deposit my money.

It’s funny because I hate camping

I should say “I hate camping as a vacation.” Whenever camping evangelists suggest it, my response is “Camping is doing housework outside…” And being cold, and focusing on getting your basic needs met… for fun. It’s the “for fun” part that gets me. I’ll live it if I need to, and have…but for the sake of just cooking and sleeping in the dirt?

And Animal Crossing makes tent life so much easier because the reality is…

  • My back doesn’t have to deal with that cot.
  • I’m not cold.
  • I don’t have to try to fall asleep to the sound of rain on canvas (which is only cool for like, 5 minutes).
  • I don’t need to shower or eat.

“But don’t you want to have the nice house and all the things???”

My daughter, my husband, and my son all laughed at me when I said I wasn’t getting a house. “You’ll need to get a house because, you’ll see… you’ll need the storage for your stuff.”

The last thing I was going to do was play a game where I was being overwhelmed by materialism. Again… too much like life. Why would I move to an island to get away from it all (if only digitally) to make that life like my own?

What about clothes, and furniture, and…

I can give my Animal Crossing neighbor a coconut juice, and they might give me a sweater dress. If there’s an outfit I like, I buy it, and then I sell my old one or give it to somebody. Why do I need a teapot (though I love tea) when my character can’t even interact with it? I’m totally Kondo-ing this.

I have my trusty tools, my tent, and a workbench. My daughter did set up an outside storage area surrounded by a pretty hedge where I pile up logs, stones, and weeds, so I can build new tools and fun stuff when I want to (mostly, I make bait) and not junk up my beach yard, bringing the whole island down in the process.

It’s not always easy

Getting rid of a nice outfit is probably the hardest part for me. There’s something about that. If I wanted to store a couple of outfits in my tent, I could, but I decided not to be bothered. However, some of my best outfits are designs, and those are stored differently.

That, and apparently I can’t go visit other islands until I redeem my Nook Miles. I conveniently ignore the fact that I’m in a really nice debtors prison of Tom Nook’s making.

My daughter is so disappointed in me…

Did I mention I’m totally loaded?

The American Millionaire

I can’t remember the name of the book and I’m too lazy to Google it, but the American millionaire, (and there are a lot of them), on average drives a 10 year old car that they bought used with cash, and owns your average middle class suburban home.

This is my American millionaire experiment. Now, I don’t have to buy food, and I’m not paying rent or utilities, but basically, I’m buying very little, enjoying an active lifestyle, and putting a minimum of 20,000 bells in the bank every day, leaving myself 5,000 bells to start off the next day with.

I’ve been playing for a month, and I have 500,000 bells in the bank and I’ve only begun to delve into the Stalk Market (Well, 400,000 now because I donated 100k toward a bridge…but I can do that!). And I have a ton of Nook miles, too, so when I do want to wander, I can turn those in and pay for my freedom.

My Life, My Rules

And it’s not like I don’t get it. I grew up on Barbie and I play The Sims. I’ll get a house sometime, I’m sure. But when I’m good and ready, and not for the storage. I like visiting my best buds, Timmy and Tommy, several times a day.

Maybe before the snow. It’d kill me to see my character come out of her tent into the snow. Or maybe I’ll pretend to be a snowbird and go do something else for the Winter. Who knows?

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