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In 2005, the New York Times investigated Animal Crossing promoting piracy

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Animal Crossing: New Horizons has nothing on the drama of Wild World

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K.K. Slider, a white dog, performs a song in Animal Crossing: New Horizons
A scene from Animal Crossing: New Horizons.
Image: Nintendo EPD/Nintendo

Over the past couple of years, we’ve seen leaders from some the biggest studios in the video game industry make suspect claims that their stories of war, human rights, and social progressivism aren’t political and have no agenda. As Detroit: Become Human director David Cage so bluntly put it, “I didn’t want to deliver a message to mankind with this game. I just want to ask questions.” Though this PR damage control tactic has become commonplace, it’s hardly new. Just ask K.K. Slider.

In 2005, New York Times reporter Tom Zeller Jr. investigated the provocative dialogue of the canine raconteur in Animal Crossing: Wild World. In one scene, Slider distributes free copies of his music and says, “Those industry fat cats try to put a price on my music, but it wants to be free.” Screenshots of the moment were shared broadly on popular music blogs, presenting K.K. Slider as an advocate of music piracy.

Zeller contacted Nintendo for comment, and the response doesn’t disappoint.

In an e-mail message, Nintendo’s vice president for marketing and corporate affairs, Perrin Kaplan, said that “no real social commentary was intended.”

“People can read a lot into a little,” Ms. Kaplan said, “but musician K.K. Slider — a guitar-playing cartoon dog — is saying only that he’s a free spirit who cannot be bought and sold for any amount of money.”

Ms. Kaplan also said that K.K. wanted his music to be free in the sense of being “freed from his guitar, free from any constraints.” She added, “as a dog, it’s understandable that he would not want to deal with any ‘fat cats.’ ”

The story also quotes reactions from a site called Cheesegod.com, because apparently that was a boomtown for Animal Crossing chatter in 2005. Here’s one of my favorite nuggets from later in the report:

“I’m going to buy ‘Animal Crossing’ just for this,” added an anonymous poster. And someone calling herself “Spooky Girl who like ice cream” volunteered: “Ah, ah excellent. A good point for the Big N,” presumably referring to Nintendo.

A user called Yams also added “Yams yams yams yams yams.”

The full story is worth reading, a hilarious time capsule from a time when music blogs were a dominant culture force and MP3 piracy was a major concern.

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