Don’t be fooled: ‘Animal Crossing’ is actually a deeply disturbing video game

It's all fun and bells, until you start asking the real questions
Image: nintendo, kotaku’s luke plunkett

We’ve long suspected that a dark underbelly lay hidden beneath the cute veneer of Animal Crossing, a Nintendo game about friendship, cute critters, and paying off mortgages (allegedly). Now, new evidence from the recently released Pocket Camp mobile edition is finally revealing the truth.

You’re actually the director of a labor cult on par with Scientology’s Sea Org, you sick bastard. Well, some of us are, anyway.

Most players probably thought the “camp” the game put them in charge of was the fun kind — you know, with summer activities. But they were wrong. Kotaku reporter Gita Jackson compiled several accounts documenting a much harsher reality involving cult-like forced labor and even animal imprisonment.

At first, it seemed that these strange cults were exclusively lamp-based:

Then other power-hungry camp directors started taking this past season of American Horror Story: Cult way too literally, too. These players can be seen abusing the programming embedded in their animal friends in order to torture, humiliate, and indoctrinate them: 

Quite a few have even gone as far as to turn imprisonment into a spectator sport, the condemned put on display for public enjoyment like a plot straight out of a Black Mirror episode:

Some players, on the other hand, are experiencing the transactional nature of friendship in Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp as dehumanizing toward them rather than the animals. A user by the name of midwestcryptid was coerced and intimidated by another player into buying cargo shorts that, he said, “Robbed me of my humanity.” 

All the way back in 2008, Games Radar‘s Brett Elston had already sounded the alarm, raising questions about whether or not the entire premise of the series was predicated on a child-abduction cult. Even super model and renowned game critic Chrissy Teigen raged against the complicity of the “animal people things.” 

It’s hard to say what Nintendo’s true intentions were for Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp. But it’s safe to say that, in this case, the usual entrapment of free-to-play games’ business model is now backfiring.

We will continue to report on the abhorrent living conditions of these camps as the story develops.

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