Hong Kong activists are using Animal Crossing to continue protesting in lockdown
In response, China has cracked down on sales of the game. Just wait until Tom Nook hears about this.
Looking beyond the collections of rare bugs and painstaking recreations of their favourite clothes and magazine covers, it’s clear that the players of Animal Crossing: New Horizons are not using the game solely for blind escapism. Wearing face masks and broadcasting vital political messages, they are keeping a close eye on the implications of our present socio-political moment too.
The Nintendo Switch game has proved to be therapeutic for many, simulating life on an idyllic island, and (unsurprisingly) rocketing in popularity as the world went into isolation. (Now it just hits different, okay?) But many users are living vicariously through their AC:NH villagers for activities that are no longer accessible to them: in Hong Kong, the game’s pattern-making tool is being used to draw up and spread symbols and messages of pro-democracy.
“For lots of people around the world who play this game, they have to put their ideal life into the game,” activist Joshua Wong told The Guardian. “And for Hong Kongers, we have to put our protest movement and our protest sites inside the game.” Legends only.
Unfortunately, these actions have drawn the attention of regulation authorities. The game was never officially for sale in China, but available via many online marketplaces like Taobao. Now, AC:NH has been removed from the sites of all Chinese sellers. Though there has been no official government announcement of the ban, it seems pretty clear that there’s been a crack-down. Tom Nook’s tyrannical power only stretches so far. :(