Games | June 3, 2020 8:00 am

Animal Crossing Community Grapples With Political Protests

It's not the first time the game has ventured into real-world political debates

Animal Crossing
What happens when real-world politics enter the Animal Crossing world?

When people began quarantining due to COVID-19, an unlikely all-ages phenomenon developed, with countless people embracing the idyllic landscape of the video game Animal Crossing: New Horizons. It’s not hard to see why a relaxing game set on a peaceful island would grow in popularity during this time — especially one where you could interact with friends via online play.

While Animal Crossing is a source of escapist fun for many, it wouldn’t be accurate to say that that’s all that it is — or can be. Earlier this year, protestors in Hong Kong who were unable to protest outdoors due to the pandemic created protest signs and graphics within the game — an action that sparked a heated political response from the Chinese government.

Now, Animal Crossing has become the home of a politically-charged debate related to the ongoing protests in the United States. As Patricia Hernandez reports at Polygon, one of the most prominent Animal Crossing communities — the online marketplace Nookazon — is facing criticism for a recent decision to not permit discussion of Black Lives Matter on its Discord. As Hernandez notes, that’s a community with 430,000 members. Many of them were not exactly thrilled by this decision.

Nookazon eventually changed their stance, but the damage was done. Other communities such as Nook.Market saw an increase in popularity as a result, in part due to their own position on the issue:

When you load the website, the top Nook.Market banner encourages people supporting various BLM organizations, in addition to being vocal about their stance on Discord.

It might not be the first place one might expect to see a political debate play out, but there’s certainly precedent for what’s happening on Animal Crossing right now. Video games can be therapeutic in more ways than one.

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