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SYFY WIRE Nintendo

Animal Crossing, stop reminding me I'll never pay off my mortgage

By Laura Dale
Animal Crossing new Horizons

In reality, outside of playing video games, a lot of my life is spent earning money to pay for a place to live. I'm in my late 20s, renting a flat, and the largest chunk of my income goes to keeping a functional roof above my head, with water and heat and power. I came into adulthood after the 2008 recession, but during a time when wages are not increasing at the same rate as inflation — so the eternal chase to own a stable place to live is a big part of what drives my life.

Video games are often where I turn for a sense of escapism from difficult things. Maybe I'll go out and become an all-powerful hero, or catch imaginary monsters, or shred on a plastic guitar and pretend I'm a rock god. However, there's one game I'm looking forward to playing next year which is in no way an escape from reality, and I kind of wish it was.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons doesn't release until late March 2020, which means there's technically still time for me to petition Nintendo to add my most wanted new feature to that series — A Mode Where I Don't Have a Mortgage to Manage.

Animal Crossing Tom Nook

For anyone who has never played an Animal Crossing game, the premise is always pretty much the same. You move into a new town, and a raccoon named Tom Nook offers you somewhere to stay. You take him up on his generous offer, and he suddenly informs you you've entered into quite an elaborate mortgage agreement. You owe him the cost of a house, and you're probably going to need to work for him to pay it off. He's not only a landlord, but also the owner of one of the only two businesses in town. He basically makes his living skimming money off the top from people just trying to get by.

Once you've moved into town, you get to do a bunch of nice activities on a real-world daily basis. From meeting villagers and making friends to decorating your home and undertaking projects to improve the town's appeal, you basically get to live a gentle relaxing pleasant life out in the countryside. Make friends, be a part of your local community, and live in a world where there's very little strife.

The problem is, there's always the specter of your mortgage hanging over you. If you manage to pay off your house, without asking your permission Nook will make your house larger, and tell you that you've got a new larger bill to pay off. I'm a millennial who will probably never pay off a mortgage on a home. I don't need my video games reinforcing that I'll be stuck in a financially escalating housing market for the rest of my life where some stranger makes money off my need not to live on the street.

I'll still do the weeds, make friends, build things, and sort out the town. Just don't remind me that I am more likely to own a digital home than a physical home in old age. Let me escape to a world where accommodation is free as a part of the hierarchy of needs. Or, at least, get rid of that wealth-hoarding landlord Tom Nook. Just put my housing costs into community projects or something.

Animal Crossing Fishing

Every penny I give to Tom Nook in game could be money put into community development projects, or social housing for those in need, or healthcare for the citizens of my tiny little town. My villager could work less and spend more time volunteering and helping those in need. But no, that landlord raccoon wants to sit around accumulating wealth purely by the act of already having capital to start with. He has money, so he can afford to monopolize our needs, and profit as a result of being the person who can afford to do things.

Career landlords are leeches on society, and I want Nintendo to let me oust this raccoon from his role in Animal Crossing society. Or let me get rich enough to basically outdo him by giving away free housing. Let me be the billionaire who abolishes the system from the inside. Let me dream, Nintendo.