Earlier this year, while working full time but paying off debts with no spare spending money, I desperately, desperately wanted a 3DS.
I didn’t even really know what Animal Crossing: New Leaf was, but it suddenly seemed all of my online friends were trading friend codes, visiting towns (huh?) and selling turnips (wha???).
A little bit behind on the bandwagon, but not upset about it at all, a Very Nice Boy gifted me a copy of the game and my own shiny pink Nintendo 3DS for my birthday in May.
I had so much fun that I have only JUST stopped playing the game on a daily basis and swapped it out for something else.
Animal Crossing is a game like The Sims where you can sit down and sink an hour or so into tasks around your town, to unwind from the day or kill some time before going out on the weekend. It doesn’t require any expert knowledge, it doesn’t require yelling at kids on multiplayer who are letting the team down. It suited my life which has little time to spare, and my interests in role playing games.
I did mention in the title this was going to be about casual gaming, and right now you’re probably thinking that playing Animal Crossing daily hardly seems like a “casual” sort of arrangement.
When I was 19, I started playing World of Warcraft. For most people, they have one of two kinds of relationships with Massively Multiplayer Online (MMO) games: you’re totally and completely absorbed in the game and its community, or you’re a super casual player that logs on for an hour or so every couple of days, mucks around a bit, and goes off to do whatever other real life quests that await.. I mean tasks. I was the former of these. I sunk SO much time into World of Warcraft, but finally after so many years playing the game, was able to participate with friends in the Dragon Soul raid (which was so fun)!
MMO games will always have a place in the market, and new ones are released all the time. But they won’t always all have the same pull as some once did, so it thins out the population across games. World of Warcraft has been out for ten years, with over 100 million accounts created, and new expansions released every one to two eyars. Elder Scrolls Online was released in 2014, and EverQuest Next is being released soon. Does the creation of all of these new MMO’s mean there is still a demand for them?
I spent time over the next 5 years in and out of the game, renewing my subscription every time I got bored with everything else in my life, and turning it off again when all the friends I had in the game got busy with other things offline. I also started working full time, so it cut into all of my enjoyment time.
After a couple of years, I have come back to playing games with the help of kids who are immersed in that culture right now. My brother and sister, who are eight, got me interested in Minecraft. With my 3DS, I’ve rediscovered my joy for games like Pokemon and the Mario franchise. I’ve since discovered many of my friends who have a 3DS as well. I can come home, sit down and play a game for a couple of hours without having to worry about levelling up, letting my team down or not being good enough.
At the end of the day, I turn the game off, and I can come back tomorrow and escape the daily grind for a little while picking oranges in Animal Crossing… Always picking oranges…