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The terror of sharing an Animal Crossing village

This adventure will have to make room for two

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Multiple villagers hang out on a beach in a screenshot from Animal Crossing: New Horizons. Image: Nintendo EPD/Nintendo
Cass Marshall is a news writer focusing on gaming and culture coverage, taking a particular interest in the human stories of the wild world of online games.

I still remember my first Animal Crossing village vividly. But the happy memories of trading with Tom Nook and making friends with cute animal people are forever tainted by the fact that I had to share that village.

I had two older brothers who both played the game, and I would often log in to find my flowers trampled, or my roof repainted. I’d have to scrounge up the Bells to paint over the damage, or replant those flowers — and the entire time, I’d grind my teeth.

My brothers had systematically worked their way through the entire cast of villagers, and slowly ensured that all of their greetings and catchphrases were now absolutely foul. It was just the most degenerate stuff you could imagine. I’d settle down to play some Animal Crossing, I’d greet my cute little mouse neighbor, and she’d call me a “dickbag.”

It was awful.

The only joy I got out of that experience was when my mother noticed we were all playing Animal Crossing, and that there was an empty spot in our village square. She was eager to join her children and participate in the fun. So my brothers spent a desperate weekend chasing down every villager, trying to trigger the prompt that would allow them to change their greetings and catchphrases.

Of course, if you talk to a villager too often, they get mad and storm off. So my brothers were howling in despair, trying to ensure my mom wouldn’t catch them polluting this friendly game with terrible swears.

Now I have Animal Crossing: New Horizons downloaded on my Nintendo Switch. I no longer live at home. This should, in theory, be a joyous time that allows me to take control over my life. I can establish my own village, and no one will sabotage my efforts.

There’s just one problem: I’m married.

Recently, a post went viral on the Am I the Asshole subreddit. On the subreddit, posters pose questions to the community, where they explain a point of conflict in their life. This poster asked: “AITA for telling my girlfriend to get her own copy of Animal Crossing?

The post reads, in part:

My girlfriend (23F) lives with me and she has never been a gamer. I’ve tried to play games with her but she just isn’t good. She has no concept of defense in Rocket League, she can’t hold a candle to me in Smash and the only time she ever wins Mario Party is if she gets bullshit bonus stars. [...] I don’t want somebody who has zero concept of how the game should actually be played making decisions that negatively affect the town.

I don’t want her stealing exotic fruits from my orchard that I plan to sell, I don’t want her buying furniture from Tom Nook’s that I might want to adorn my living room with and I certainly don’t want her placing her house next to mine because she thinks it’s cute, thus spoiling what I plan to develop into a lavish estate.

The answer is obviously: Yes, he’s the asshole. The way that this guy talks about his girlfriend is awful, and he should be ashamed.

But, on the other hand: I do kind of understand the desire to control an Animal Crossing village. I get that this guy wants his lavish estate. Honestly, big mood: I, too, would like my very own lavish estate with a wonderful orchard of fruit. And I fear that my husband setting up his house in the wrong spot would spoil the plan I had in my head.

But on the other, other hand, I love my husband. I also love not spending a few extra hundred dollars on my very own Switch. Now that New Horizons is here, I’m realizing that I have to confront this terror I have of sharing my village. Perhaps this will be the game that finally teaches me how to share. Perhaps I just need to put my faith in Tom Nook, and all will be answered.

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