Animal Crossing: New Horizons






Social Simulation

Animal Crossing: New Horizons is a social simulation game published exclusively for the Nintendo Switch. The game is centred around a deserted island, upon which you can plan your town, socialise with islanders, and connect with friends.

Following day 1 in the game, you will begin the work constructing your island. You will be tasked with collecting resources to upgrade Resident Services and Nook’s Cranny (the Island shop), and you will also build further homes for new islanders to move in to. The more your Island develops, the more features you unlock, such as the ability to travel to distant deserted islands and discover Harv’s Island nearby. You will also obtain numerous apps for your Nook Phone to make island life easier.

Players can explore what the island has to offer by shaking trees, digging up unknown fossils, fishing, catching bugs, collecting items hidden deep in the sea, and travelling to nearby islands via Kapp’n and his boat service. By growing vegetables and catching fish, players can also learn new recipes, and by collecting building materials players can explore a vast range of furniture available to build via DIY cards. As you explore and develop your island, you will earn Nook Miles Tickets for different targets you manage to hit, whether this is catching a certain number of fish or bugs or demolishing a number of trees for example. Throughout the game play, you can collect clothes and furniture from a range of styles and cultures, celebrating certain festivities with your fellow islanders.

Animal Crossing trailer from E3 2019

What we think you can learn from Animal Crossing: New Horizons

Animal Crossing offers players the ability to learn about the world around them through a safe social simulation game. The game encourages you to catch a range of bugs and fish that exist in the real world, and donate them to the museum where Blathers, the Museum curator owl, will offer you a fact about your critter.

The game encourages social relationships with islanders – they will respond to you depending on how close you become, offering presents to you and playing games if you earn the higher levels of friendship. Social development can also be enhanced through the game’s inclusion of cultures and different festivities, as well as costumes and furniture pieces from around the glob. This will aid player’s cultural awareness and allow an exploration and intrigue towards things they may not have been previously aware of. Social development can also be explored through the multiplayer feature, whereby players can welcome visitors or visit other player’s islands. Players can interact with one another through the speech bubble feature or by visual expressions of emotion.

Decorating your island and planning the structure of your island through the allocation of lots for shops, houses and bridges, as well as allowing the ability to landscape and create cliffs and rivers once the ability has been unlocked, also encourages freedom in creativity. The more you add to your island, the more you develop it, the higher your island rating becomes.

National Curriculum links

Environmental issues

The museum feature teaches players about conservation of real world fish and insects. The fossils collected are also reflective of the real world and for each bug, fish or fossil donated to the Museum, Blathers (the Museum owl) gives the option of hearing a fact about it.

Players can create different landscapes within their Islands using items, furniture, flowers and trees. Gathering certain collections allows for many different decorative possibilities, from city environments with cars and urban decay, to rural farm environments with an emphasis on crop growing and natural decorations. It just depends on how creative you can be!

Litter items can be placed around the Island and demonstrate issues around pollution and the importance of maintaining a clean environment. Litter items such as tin cans or old boots can also be unwittingly fished out of the rivers. This could spart discussions around the impact of litter on marine life. Players must ensure litter is collected from the island in order to maintain a 5-Star Island rating.

Finance and money management

Outside of the game, the Animal Crossing community has developed a site called Nookazon, essentially functioning as an online store for players to trade Bells and Nook Miles for furniture, clothing, villagers, and DIY recipes.

The community has also developed the Stalk market – a site in which players can track the value of the turnips they have purchased, as they can be sold for higher or lower value depending on the rate that the Nook twins offer. This offers the chance for players to learn about product value and depreciation. If the Turnips are not sold in time, or the player skips ahead through settings to a different day in an attempt to receive higher turnip value, the turnips will go rotten and lose all value. The daily changes in turnip value allows players to connect with each other and offer for other players to sell turnips on their Island if experiencing a high turnip resale value.

The game also introduces players to the world of work, savings, and mortgages: Tom Nook loans the player increasing amounts of Bells – once one payment is increased, he will improve your house until you have unlocked all available rooms and storage spaces. In order to pay these mortgages, the player must work and sell items for Bells.

Resource management

Throughout game play, players will collect food recipes and DIY recipes for furniture and clothing items. Each recipe requires certain ingredients which can be collected from around the island, such as rock, wood, stone, and metal, as well as utilising previously build DIY items to create new products.

To create food recipes, players must also grow different foods as ingredients. These crops can be bought as seeds and grown on your island, or harvested from visiting uninhabited islands.

Creativity and design

Creativity, fashion, and home design lie at the core of Animal Crossing. Clothes and furniture items can be bought from the two Island shops. Players have the freedom to decorate the rooms in their homes in any way they see fit – sticking to a theme, or collecting random furniture along the way. The playable character is also completely customisable from their appearance to their outfits.

The game also offers the opportunity to design your own clothing items and clothing designs, as well as customising different furniture items using the work bench.

The whole island can be landscaped to include new cliffs, rivers, bridges and ramps. Players have the freedom to alter where different buildings are placed, as well as laying paths and other decorations around the Island.

Society and culture

The game features items and clothing from a range of real-world celebrations. This can introduce players to a range of new cultures and cultural practices.

The game also teaches the importance of investing in infrastructure. Through building houses, upgrading shops, and decorating and landscaping the island in order to boost the Island rating. Spending money, interacting with certain NCPs and achieving Nook Mile goals unlocks new features to explore such as Harv’s Island, and the ability to explore other uninhabited islands.

Building relationships with villagers is also a key aspect of Animal Crossing. Different NPC villagers have different personality types to interact with, some nicer than others. Villagers you form good connections with will offer you gifts and send you letters.

Throughout the year, your island will celebrate a number of real world celebrations including ‘Toy Day’, ‘Turkey Day’, and ‘Bunny Day’, as well as the fictional ‘Festivale’, which bring the villagers together and include exclusive items and decorations for your island.

• Meet all of your fellow islanders
• Decorate your house
• Complete your jobs allocated by Tom Nook
• Catch 5 fish and 5 bugs
• Catch 2 bugs and 2 fish in each season
• Complete the fossil collection for one whole dinosaur
• Ask for a fact from Blathers with every new critter or fossil you donate to the museum

Environmental issues:
• Pollution
o What is the importance of keeping a clean island free or rubbish?
o What are the impacts in-game? How does this compare to real life examples?
o What solutions does the game offer to deal with rubbish and unwanted items?

• Adapting to environments: Catch 3 fish or 3 bugs.
o Consider: are they fresh water or salt water?
o What season are they most commonly found?
o How are they adapted to their real life environments, and how accurate is this in-game?
o Note down the facts that Blather’s gives you

Society and culture:
• Different cultural celebrations are featured and represented throughout the game, through seasonal items and decorations. Identity one you are not familiar with, and identify:
o What country it originates in?
o What are the celebratory rituals associated with it?
o What time of year it occurs in?
o What is the history behind it?
o What group of people celebrates/observes it?

English – creative writing:
• Talk to an islander of your choice and try to learn more about them and about who they are, what sorts of things they like.
o Can you use your creative writing skills to develop their backstory? Why did they move to your island? What sort of life did they lead before?