clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

We’ve reached Animal Crossing: New Horizons’ guilt trip phase

I could come back to my island, but can I handle that right now?

An Animal Crossing character doing a shocked face at two raccoon boys Image: Nintendo EPD/Nintendo via Polygon
Nicole Carpenter is a senior reporter specializing in investigative features about labor issues in the game industry, as well as the business and culture of games.

On Monday, I got an email from Nintendo. I only had to read the subject line to know what it was for. It just sat there, taunting me: “Welcome back! Your island misses you.” A normal person might have just deleted it and moved on. Clearly, I am not a normal person. Since then, I’ve been thinking about the villagers I’ve left behind on my now-abandoned Animal Crossing: New Horizons island.

As I’m sure you know, New Horizons was all-encompassing when it was first released earlier this year. Players latched onto it for various reasons, and we played it non-stop, racking up hundreds of hours in the game. Some players have moved onto playing the game at the correct speed, savoring the game and its slow drip of updates. But some of us burned out and haven’t visited since.

Image: Polygon

This is something I feel guilty about. I got attached to those little critters that populated my island. I spent a lot of time making my home and its surroundings just right. And then ... I left.

I went back just once since then, when the summer update added swimming. All of my villagers absolutely roasted me. Honestly, Nintendo, I just don’t know if I can take that kind of berating again.

Of course, I say all of this jokingly — or, at least, I think it’s that way. I’m not sitting here stewing over whether or not I should boot up New Horizons, but there is a real tinge of guilt somewhere in there. I spent so much time with the game, and now I’ve abandoned it. Digital creatures aren’t actually crying over my disappearance from the island; I don’t feel bad about that. But I do feel some kind of way about how easily I can move on from a game that once, honestly, anchored my life.

And who do I have to thank for taking me down this philosophical rabbit hole? Nintendo, for sending me that goddamn email. Now I’m thinking about loss! Great!

The worst part is, Nintendo is out here sending these emails willy-nilly, without a care in the world. They just want me to play their game again! I’m not the only one who has received The Email. We’re all entering the phase of New Horizons that I’m calling The Guilt Trip.

Honestly, it’s a phase that we all should be used to by now. Nintendo has a real gift for it. It’s something I’ve experienced for many of the past Animal Crossing games, whether or not the company sent me an email.

New Horizons, however, is the first Animal Crossing game that I got sincerely, deeply attached to. And so that guilt trip? It hits a little harder this time. The thing is, I will be back. I am not going to abandon Sears (that’s my New Horizons island, not the nostalgic department store).

I just need some space. That’s all.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for Patch Notes

A weekly roundup of the best things from Polygon