Personal Posts, What Gaming Taught Me, Writing

What I learned about writing from Animal Crossing: New Leaf


It’s been a long time since I wrote a post about what I’ve learned from video games and how that can be applied to writing.

I’ve actually written two others, one about Minecraft another about Ico and Shadow of the Colossus.

As it has happened with so many other gamers, life has snuck up and taken away my lovely game time. Work, internships, and writing have all had their fun with my gaming time, especially console gaming. To make up for it, I purchased Animal Crossing: New Leaf (ACNL) for my 2DS, a clunky throwback to old school handhelds, which I actually prefer over the new 3DS systems.

But anyway…

And did I fall in love?

I fell. I fell straight into a pitfall seed.

I love this game. It’s mind-numbing. Just how I like them, and with a wide array of NPCs, there’s hardly a dull moment.

Granted, this game isn’t for everyone. If you don’t like the following, steer clear:

  • Paying off your mortgage only to expand your home and pay that off, etc. etc.
  • Watering flowers
  • Running errands
  • Purchasing furniture and decorating
  • Taking part in town festivals
  • Being mayor
  • Fishing, catching bugs, etc.
  • Selling said fish and bugs
  • Working at a coffee shop
  • Drinking coffee
  • BALLOONS
  • Fossils
  • Museums / Donating to museums
  • Dance clubs
  • Buying clothes and trying on new clothes
  • Talking animals

Yep. That’s the game in a nutshell. It’s wonderful, and there are some pretty great communities to take part in, too.  Now, what can we learn about writing from this? Well, onward to the list!

  • Separating your voice from your characters.
    Everyone has their own voice when writing. There will always be a certain part of yourself in every bit of writing you do. Whether it’s things you love, things you hate, a character based off a person or kind of person you hate, there will always be a little bit of you in there. The key is to make their voices different. If you give them all your voice, then you’ve basically made clones of yourself. How did I learn this from ACNL? With 33 different villager characters and set villager personalities, I found that even having two lazy villagers in the same town, didn’t mean I would hear the same things from them. For whatever reason, they just felt different to me. They each had their own voice. You can have similar personalities, but you really shouldn’t have the same voice.
  • Rules are rules.
    Just because you’re mayor in a town of talking animals, doesn’t mean you can do just anything. There are rules, time periods that need to be followed. You have a mortgage to pay, work to be done in the town to keep it nice and to further develop it. And who pays for those developments? You. So you have to make money by catching fish, which come at different times of the day, then wait until you pay it off, plus a day, for it to be done before you begin working on the next project. It’s important to give your characters rules. If they can do anything they want at any time, what would be the point? Where is the conflict? What is your story? You don’t have to make them your everyday Joe’s, but give them rules.
  • Men don’t have to wear suits and ties/Women don’t have to wear dresses (Click the link to read more on gender in writing!).
    I’m not going to lie, this is one of the many problems I have when writing up characters. It’s so easy to fall into the stereotypes of women just being women, and men just being men, when I myself have been made fun of my entire life for being the opposite. I was, and still very much am, a tomboy. I hate makeup, I dislike most dresses, and I’d much rather play video games than go shopping. Shopping literally makes me ill. I’ve been called a dike and a lesbian more times than I can recount. At a certain point in the game, I was able to buy men’s clothing and get male hair cuts. It was then I realized, you don’t have to be feminine to be a woman. I am a woman, and I am not feminine. I have a boyfriend, I have friends, I am woman without subjecting myself to all things stereo-typically woman. A woman can be masculine without being a lesbian, and the same is true for a man being a bit more feminine. This pic says it best:
Well, it’s 2014… but you get the idea.

Well, those are my top three. If I think of any more, I may add to this post. The game is still being updated, and I’m still learning as I go along. What have you learned? Have you played Animal Crossing? Any of them? How do you feel about my post? Let me know, and comment below!

Thanks for reading!

-Lissy

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