Dad vs. Kid: Animal Crossing New Horizons
When family bonding in a video game turns into a competition.
Hi, I’m Darren, and I’m a gamer. I also have a problem – my kid. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I love him. To. Death. But, he recently destroyed me in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. Which he later celebrated by putting together another killer track set on Dropmix (see DJ PJs). I always thought that him topping me in games would be an eventual rite of manhood where I pass the torch to him when he’s older. Y’know, when he beats me in Street Fighter or something. I figured I at least had until he was in middle school. Man, was I ever wrong.
Welcome to my life. I’m a dad. Born in 19xx. Raised on Ataris and Apples, Neo Geos and Nintendos, Dreamcasts, 3DOs, PlayStations…you get the idea. Now I’m doing my darndest to be a good dad – and to teach my kid the ancient art of the circle strafe. Lego. Nerf dueling. Board gaming - all sorts of nerdly pursuits.
Here’s the deal. I share my trials of cooperative play and 1v1 combat alike, give you some ideas for getting the most out of gaming experiences with your kids, and we’ll keep score. For this first round…
Dad vs. Kid, ROUND 1 - Animal Crossing: New Horizons
It was another beautiful, sunny day on LonGuyLand. The palm trees gently sway in the breeze while I’m fishing. That’s when the notification comes in: My kid was flying in to visit with his ol’ man for a bit. He wants to come on over and catch up -- and maybe trade some goods. Me, playing Animal Crossing: New Horizons on my “work” Nintendo Switch, him on the “house” Switch.
Let me start by saying that neither of us have any experience with Animal Crossing. It’s just not my type of game. It’s cutesy, you’re just goofing around, exploring a space, doing chores, building places, meeting fictional characters (and, potentially, friends online). In short, it’s the game that people really need at a time like this. With the world being so bonkers, this is a welcome reality break. A video game vacation to a deserted island you can make your own.
So, the chief export of my island is oranges. His: Apples. We start every visit with an agricultural swap. It’s a fairly effective NHFTA (New Horizons Free Trade Agreement) we have in place. I set up a little “Garage sale / Welcome” area on my island where I leave everything from fossils and furniture to fruits and fashion that people are welcome to grab. And, if they're nice, they leave a little something behind for me.
Now that we are both seasoned investors in the game’s Stalk Market, we are actively trading Turnips. We check each other’s purchase prices and we match those up against some community-sourced tracking tools to estimate the best time to sell. Seriously, check out the Turnip Calculator, here. (And you can visit strangers who are opening up their islands to visitors on Turnip Exchange.) After all, Bells Rule Everything Around Me (B.R.E.A.M.) and I take my Stalk Investments very seriously.
Anyhow, we’re now becoming captains of industry, pooling resources, information, and even getting predictive data on the marketplace.
When I’m not doing that, I’m tending to my virtual garden. Watering plants. Sprucing up the interior with….hey, maybe it’s time to build that new fence around the house. Let me be clear: I DON’T DO ANY OF THIS IN REAL LIFE. I regularly kill plants by mistake. The drill holes in my house are a testament to my vaunted repair skills. I don’t bother with stocks (thank God these days).
But I’m doing all this in a game. And enjoying it. A LOT.
All that fun came to a screeching halt this one fateful, breezy day. My kid came by to say hello, sure. Then he casually walked over to some stuff by my house...and stole it! This is what I get for making him a “Best Friend” in the game. The little thief broke out his shovel and stole some bamboo. He took an axe and chopped down my one peach tree because he could. Then he helped himself to a couple of things in my yard that I hadn’t properly installed yet.
I didn’t notice his shenanigans at first -- until he started high-tailing it back to the airport, giggling the whole time. While the game prohibits violence of any kind, there’s also no island jail I can toss the delinquent into for his crime. And, really, I can’t stop him. That said, I’ve since built up a customs checkpoint at the airport. Complete with totally welcoming barbed wire fencing and prison bars. So he doesn’t get any funny ideas.
(….Of course, that also didn’t stop me from donning an Assassin’s Creed costume and sneaking over to my kid’s island after I put him to bed. I swiped back my missing lawn ornaments.)
Kid: 2 (For his gutsy daylight robbery)
Dad: 1 (For the midnight raid recovery)