For as long as I can remember, I’ve enjoyed playing games. And, moreover, playing them slowly.

From the countless Pokémon titles to Maplestory, and Spyro to Animal Crossing, just like in real life I’m a slow, unravel-the-yarn kinda gal when it comes to gaming. They’re not my entire life, but a fun little way to unwind when I’m done with everything else I like to do.

Animal Crossing is, at heart, a slow game. Taking its cue from the calendar, I’ve always loved experiencing a virtual world as it changes little by little each day. Not one to time travel, I played New Leaf for years and years before abandoning it a few years ago, and I recently picked it – and my Sword Art Online-themed town – again. And it doesn’t get boring. With the New Horizons title, Nintendo have introduced rolling updates and downloads, which is absolutely in line with how people play today. Newness keeps people coming.

Now that we’re over six months post-New Horizons launch, the initial hype and overplaying has sort of… ended. My gaming social media news feeds are much quieter and, overall, I feel like I’m back at that peaceful pace I’m used to. So, if you’re excited by the fall update and are about to dip a toe back in the waters, let me walk you through my little way of playing Animal Crossing for the long haul…

Little and often. In 2020, I feel like a lot of our mindsets gear towards an ‘all or nothing’ mentality. Right from the offset, ACNH players everywhere ploughed hours into the game in a bid to complete the museum, rack up Nook Miles and pay off all of their loans. But what’s always been at the forefront for me is playing a little each day. Sure I’m guilty of sitting on the sofa, six hours in to extreme terraforming, but for the most part I play 15-20 minutes in the morning and then a little more in the evening. (Tip: turnip prices, weather, and dialogue all change from morning to evening.)

No, or minimal, time travel. I personally really enjoy playing without ‘time travel’. No rushing to get seasonal DIYs or items – for they’ll arrive regardless – and enjoying being excited for what each day has to offer.

Taking care of dailies. If you also play Animal Crossing, you’ll know that there are daily tasks to take care of. From checking mail to seeing what Timmy and Tommy have for sale at Nook’s Cranny, and from mining rocks and trees for materials to gifting villagers with carefully picked-out gifts, there’s plenty to do even if it doesn’t feel big and grandiose. In New Horizons, we also have Nook Miles+ tasks to work towards, in return for those precious Nook Miles. I’ve really enjoyed using these as a guideline of what to do when I log in after work. Perhaps it’s fishing for five critters, or planting new fruit trees; either way, it feels rewarding to have something small to work towards even when I’m not in the midst of a big ol’ island renovation.

The ‘ever-evolving’ island concept. Perhaps this is the old-school villager mindset in me, but I haven’t quite fully subscribed to the –core aesthetics of this AC generation. My own is an ever-evolving island that changes a little, week to week, month to month, season to season. I like to switch up little corners, nooks and crannies here and there, rather than squish my villagers and I into an image. I think this has contributed hugely to not ‘burning out’ or feeling like I’ve ‘completed’ a game that’s not made to end.

Collecting slowly. Another thing that keeps me playing Animal Crossing is the collector side of it all. Whether it’s fish, bugs, art or somethin’ else, I try not to put much pressure on myself to tick everything off before the month is up. Of course certain critters are only available within certain hours or months, but I tend to see what I can catch on my daily fishing sessions and not stress myself out, safe in the knowledge that I can collect them later in the year.

Hosting fun, themed parties. Over on my Discord, we host weekly parties to visit NPCs, shop or run treasure hunts and dress-up games. I didn’t play online with New Leaf, because I didn’t have any friends that played Animal Crossing, but the online play for New Horizons has made the game even more fun!

All in all, I suppose I play Animal Crossing with no end goal. There’s no perfect island, dream villager line-up or rush to tick off all of the lists (for me), and it’s even more fun to jump in to the game and take something new from each day. Maybe you don’t want to mine your rocks every single day or dig up the four daily fossils – that’s fine too, save those for when you want to.

For more Animal Crossing content, follow my new Instagram and Twitter. And, join the Discord – you’ll never fall short of parties, Custom Designs and NPC visits.

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