Fond memories of Animal Crossing and encouraging social skills

Posted by dkidwell on May 31st, 2012 — Posted in parenting

Recently I had a conversation about Animal Crossing, and while it’s been years, reflecting back, it’s a really wonderful social game.

Animal Crossing puts players in a patently adorable city (the sort that Nintendo absolutely excels in) and encourages you to explore the city, meet it’s citizens and engage in activities in the little community.

My oldest (who just graduated high school!) played with me for years – tending our homes and the little city. As he heads off to college, there are a few things that struck me as particularly educational in animal crossing.

1) Responsibility

As my son heads off to college, responsibility is one of those key skills he needs, and if there’s one thing Animal Crossing teaches, it’s this. He’ll be met with many responsibilities on campus (ok, not quite the real world while he’s still in a dorm) that harken back to those Animal Crossing moments. We spent hours working to pay off the Animal Crossing mortgage and taking care of the house and grounds. Pulling weeds in both the real and virtual yards! There’s something about a quite game of Animal Crossing after a day of work or a Foxy Bingo game – Nintendo’s music and world is both relaxing and reinforcing!

2) Timekeeping

Turn up at someone’s house too late? They’ve gone to bed. Leave talking to someone and catching up for too long? They get upset. Animal Crossing’s social structure is similar to ours in that you do have to try and ensure you’re not attempting to engage with people at antisocial hours. While you could tamper with the time settings on your Wii or Gamecube, doing so takes such a deliberate effort that you are at least aware that you are tinkering with time!

3) Being a good citizen

Being a good citizen is an amazing opportunity you have in Animal Crossing that just doesn’t come into play in most games. Make friends, and they will give you gifts – but you have to be genuine (no sending nonsense letters without content, you have to mean it)! Do them favours, and they’ll always talk to you. Uproot some weeds, and you’ll soon find that your town starts getting a higher rating. Dig up holes – a museum full of fossils. Animal Crossing is all about making the effort, although it’s best to think of it this way, rather than simply as a mechanic to get people to give you cool stuff!

Animal Crossing is one of the most inventive, fun, sweet games that’s ever been released, and whether it teaches you to have a better world approach or not, you’ll have a great time. If AC is one of those games you meant to play and didn’t – go back to it! If you are looking for a summer game, you’ll likely find a great price on a used version at your local game store. Highly worth it – it’s a beautifully designed game.