Animal Crossing is such a great game. I have fond memories of the original Animal Crossing on the Game Cube. It was fresh, funny, and oddly addictive. Being able to see the game world change in time with real world seasons was impressive. I loved the depth of the game, and while in college I found a friend who also played the game. We could then visit each other’s villages and share silly (and sometimes verbally abusive) letters with the citizens of our respective towns. Now, 15 years later my same friend and I are playing Animal Crossing: New Leaf on the Nintendo 3DS.
2016 is a leap year, so February has 29 days this time around. As a special celebration, here are 29 life lessons from Animal Crossing: New Leaf.
29 Life Lessons From Animal Crossing: New Leaf
1. Pay off your debt – Debt can be a crippling weight, and nothing says freedom like being debit free. Don’t just grind to pay of your village mansion – do the same with your own finances (And use video games to help)!
2. Go to a museum – Visiting a museum can be a lot of fun. Don’t let the idea of a traditional museum scare you away, they are not all boring! Check out the Video Game Museum (http://www.vghmuseum.org/) or the Smithsonian Art of Video Games Exhibit (http://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/the-art-of-video-games-101131359/?no-ist)
3. Enjoy fishing – Whether you enjoy the excitement of deep sea fishing, or prefer the tranquility of freshwater from the shore, fishing is a great pastime. And depending on what you catch and where you catch it, you may get dinner out of the experience!
4. Take a vacation – In Animal Crossing, you can take a little getaway to a local island. This is a great way to relax and unwind. Explore locations that you might like to take a trip to. It does not need to be exotic, expensive, or distant. Look for a little get away within a short distance of where you live, and plan a weekend getaway. You’ll be glad you did.
5. Splurge on something you want – Every now and then, I’ll walk into the Animal Crossing store and see a piece of furniture that I really like and just buy it on the spot. It can be fun to splurge on a little something in real life too. Just don’t go crazy and buy a new car or something like that.
6. Save – It’s true that you can’t buy peace of mind, but having a savings account for emergencies sure does go a long way to taking the teeth out of those little unexpected expenses. Start out by setting just a tiny bit away that you might have spent on something else – you’ll be surprised at how fast your savings can grow if you are consistent.
7. Listen to comedy – After playing the game for awhile, you will meet Dr. Shrunk, host of the local club. He does pretty terrible comedy during the daytime if you give him some fruit. However, laughter is good medicine and checking out a funny comedian or some humorous videos on youtube can pick your spirits up!
8. Invite friends over – As you wonder around your village, you may be invited over to one of your neighbor’s places. You may even encounter a curious neighbor who wants to visit your home. There is something special about having friends over to your own home. Don’t neglect to “break bread” with others – its an important social activity that will deepen your relationships with others and make you a better person, all around.
9. Talk with your mom – In Animal Crossing, your mom regularly writes you a letter – often sending gifts, always sending encouragement. When is the last time you called or wrote your mom? Now is a good time.
10. Write a letter – In today’s age of email and texting, its easy to overlook the value of an old fashioned, hand-written letter. But I promise you this – if you write even a short note and send it to someone, they will remember it for years.
11. Help others – Part of the joy of Animal Crossing is being able to assist other villagers with needs they have. And their needs come in all forms: some want a bug or fish for their collection, while others want your opinion on how they speak or their new clothes. Some villagers want to you return or deliver an item to another villager. Whatever the task, there is much joy to be found in helping others. Look around at the people closest to you – how can you help someone else today?
12. Donate to a cause – In AC: New Leaf, the mayor can start public works projects. This is a way of beautifying the town and creating a communal decoration, rather than just selfishly buying more furniture for your sad, lonely, joyless own home. How can you do something for your community today? Maybe you won’t dig up a fossil for the local museum in your hometown, but you can always volunteer for community projects (and meet some great people along the way).
13. Garden – So maybe Animal Crossing does not have a garden per se, but you can plant flowers and trees, and water them as well. Real gardens can take a lot of work but are incredibly rewarding – probably best during Spring/Summer.
14. Enjoy the seasons – I love that the world of Animal Crossing changes seasons along with the internal clock. Especially since in Florida, we really only have 2 seasons: Hurricane Season, and Summer.
15. Return things that are lost – Have you ever lost something, maybe something really important? Car keys, a wallet, maybe your favorite game (Still missing my 1st copy of Castlevania: SOTN…)? Well, if you find something that is lost do your best to find the owner or take it to a lost and found. “Finders keepers” is a jerk move.
16. Welcome new people – As mayor, your assistant Isabelle will remind you when a new person is moving to town, encouraging you to greet them. You are probably not a mayor of a town, but chances are you are part of a group, school, or job where new people join – be the first to welcome them and make them feel at home.
17. 80/20 rule – Animal Crossing is such a huge game, there is no way that you can do everything you want to, all at once. So you need to prioritize. The 80/20 rule basically says that 80% of your results come from 20% of what you do – so focus on those things and do them well.
18. Be yourself – Animal Crossing lets you customize your home inside and out, your clothing, and even your hair. The beauty of the game is that it lets you be yourself. What is a way that you can be more “yourself” today?
19. Go to a concert – K.K. Slider offers musical performances each Saturday evening in Animal Crossing – its fun to listen and enjoy the music, especially if others are joining you. There is nothing quite like the live energy of attending a concert of a performer that you love.
20. Be generous – In the world of Animal Crossing, being generous is often rewarded. If you write letters and send gifts to others, they will often reciprocate. Now just to be clear, I do not recommend giving with the intent to get, but I can tell you that generous people attract other generous individuals. Just don’t expect to receive a new dresser from Bob in apartment 42 because you mailed him an apple you shook out of a tree.
21. Involve others – There is no shortage of opportunity to have others participate in shared activities. Some of the most fun can be had when you invite other players to visit your town. Even the best things are sad when they are kept to oneself.
22. Be a good listener – In Animal Crossing, you don’t have much of an option: you have to listen. Imagine if you had to spend an entire day, only listening to what others had to say, rather than just talking about yourself.
23. Make the other person feel important – Just like being a good listener, when the focus is on the other person, incredible things start to happen. Seek out ways to compliment others today, and watch their face light up.
24. Serve others – Animal Crossing is about your villagers & its economy – not you. “The world is full of people who are grabbing and self-seeking. So the rare individual who unselfishly tries to serve others has an enormous advantage. He has little competition.” – Dale Carnegie
25. Don’t argue – Sometimes villagers get into arguments with each other – you will see them walking around with angry expressions. It’s best just to avoid them at this point. As Dale Carnegie said “The only way to get the best of an argument is to avoid it”
26. Work hard – Zig Ziglar is known for saying “You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help enough other people get what they want.” There is no substitute for hard work, whether you are looking to buy a new set of furniture in Animal Crossing or if you are looking to buy your next car in real life.
27. Shake things up – It’s astounding what can fall out of a tree when you shake it. Money, Fruit, even furniture may be nestled between the leaves. There’s also a chance that a bee hive is there, leading to a painful sting. But if you don’t shake things up, you’ll never know! Don’t go around shaking trees in real life, but do ask yourself: “What ‘tree’ in my life does need shaking?”
28. Travel – It’s great to be a host, but visiting other towns in Animal Crossing is a rewarding and enjoyable experience that should not be missed. It’s exciting to see how others arrange their own town, who lives there, and find out what you take for granted in your own village. Ultimately, there is no place like home.
29. Celebrate accomplishment – Upon completion of a public works project, you can gather with other villagers and Isabelle to celebrate the accomplishment, complete with party poppers! When is the last time you celebrated an accomplishment in life? Think about a recent event that is a reason to celebrate, and invite a friend or two to join you! Perhaps you could even celebrate that you get an extra day this month?
Whew. That’s quite a list – but leap year only comes around every four years, so we all have plenty of time to get to work.