Animal Crossing as stealth edutainment

I got Silverlotus Animal Crossing: Wild World* for her new Nintendo DS. While it’s a whimsical game accessible to both your young’uns and your pretty spouse, I suspect that many of the gameplay decisions were made very deliberately and with purpose. It’s not just a happy-sappy Barney land: when Lucy the Cat quizzed Silverlotus’s avatar on her personality and found her to be “sweet and noble”, she immediately warned her to be wary of those who may take advantage of her disposition. And what kid’s game you know that features mortgages and museums? Fat-Cats2.jpg

Things that AC:WW is attempting to teach your kids:

  • *Money management*. You start off the game with a house and a mortgage, which you pay off with a variety of odd jobs. If you pay off your debt, you can obtain a second mortgage to perform home renovations, and the cycle starts anew. You can place your savings in the town bank, and your account accrues interest.
  • *Economic development*. Spend money at the general store, and the store will renovate itself into a succession of larger stores with a wider variety of merchandise and services. The store also implements a membership discount plan, with your discount growing along with the store itself.
  • *Social interaction*. The NPCs range in temperament from friendly to rambunctious to curt. To advance your social status, you must converse and write letters to everyone. If you make friends, they will send letters and gifts in kind. If not, they may ostracize you or even leave town.
  • *Biology and philanthropy*. Blathers the curator will give a brief summary of each fossil, fish or insect you donate to the museum. More encyclopedic facts on each artifact are available in your menu screens.
  • *Indemnification*. Sooner or later, you are presented with the option to purchase an insurance policy. Insurance guarantees you compensation if you are stung by bees while bug hunting, or if you have purchased counterfeit artwork from the flea market.
  • *Proper care of computer hardware*. If you shut your Nintendo DS off without saving your game, the next time you load the game your character will be berated by a mole named Mr. Resetti. If you continue to prematurely abort the game, Mr. Resetti will become more and more flustered and make you perform mnemonic-like activities before you can resume play.

*The game is pretty interesting. Everything happens in real time. There is no urgent objective except to live in this small, idyllic town and interact with the wacky anthromorphic townsfolk.

One thought on “Animal Crossing as stealth edutainment”

  1. One of the most interesting and addictive things for me when I played World of Warcraft was the game economy. Simply observing supply and demand and figuring out what people were interested in buying was a great way to earn gold fast.

    I’m not sure if AC:WW has wi-fi multiplayer but I think that should be the next step.

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