When Animal Crossing: New Leaf released for the Nintendo 3DS back in June, I was intrigued. The game seemed to have quite the following and I had never played an Animal Crossing title before. I really wanted to know what the hype was all about. So when Amazon.com took a decent amount off of the title, I sprung for it. After it arrived I slid the cartridge into my 3DS and settled-in for a deep, hours-long experience. I liked what I saw at first: catching bugs, fishing, discovering fossils and new gear for my character and my house. It was all scratching my very completionist itch.
Not long into my AC: NL experience however, the game began to become repetitive. The first fifteen hours of gameplay seemed to introduce newness at a steady pace, but after that I got into a rhythm. I began to wake up in the morning, flip on the system and proceed to do the “necessities.” I would start by canvassing the town for fossils to dig up (which there was only ever 4-5), I watered the flowers, and pulled the weeds. Then, because I was too cheap to spend 20,000 bells on an ordinance to force my shops to open earlier, I would close my system until lunch. During lunch I would donate the fossils, sell the extra crap that I had collected, and check the new shop inventories. Rinse and repeat.
It didn’t take long before I needed to put down AC: NL because, well, life happens. I returned after a few days to find my town rife with weeds, dead flowers, and citizens informing me that they were leaving. Whereas I was an avid fossil collector before, I had missed so many opportunities to collect them (the fossils replant every day, whether you collect them or not) that I couldn’t get over the gap in my progress that I felt was present. I had also missed several shop days. This meant that I had missed some opportunities to be more American and collect more crap. One shop, in particular, pissed me off for an entirely different reason. The Able Sisters clothing shop had only changed 3 items in the course of 30+ hours. I know that the more you buy from the shop, the more the inventory changes. Also, the more you buy, the quicker the shop “upgrades.” The problem here was that every item in the store was geared for a female character and I was a male character. It didn’t interest me to spend the necessary bells just to cycle the stock a little. This was a disappointment.
It was short after my return to AC: NL that I realized I was only carrying a shovel and a watering can in my inventory on a daily basis. The only gameplay that I was participating in was digging up fossils (and money rocks), pulling weeds, and watering flowers. My morning routine was moving from a fun and enjoyable experience to accomplishing something that needed to be done in my real front yard (fossils excluded). At this point I realized that I had a decision to make: waste the 15 minutes that I had to play games on some days or put the game down for a later date. I made the decision to put the game down.
At the end of the day I realized that AC: NL had betrayed me. I thought that the cutesy characters and the cheery attitudes meant hours of carefree fun. It was all just a charade to sucker me into doing work. I had branched out from my normal game “type” and, in turn, I had ostracized myself from some other quality content that had built up. No longer. I’m going to get back into games that I enjoy to play because they aren’t work. I’m going to get back to gaming.