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Collect Bugs and Declare Yourself Mayor: How to Play Animal Crossing in Real Life

By Maya Satin


The fervor for Nintendo's latest chill-out simulator, Animal Crossing: New Horizons has reached a fever pitch online. Old fans and new fans can't get enough of the latest entry in the beloved franchise. But not everyone can get their hands on a Nintendo Switch right now. Here's how you can join in on the fun of Animal Crossing without having to spend $300 on a toy that won't ship until quarantine ends.


Collect bugs

Yes, you read that right: collect bugs! Bugs are a staple of the Animal Crossing economy, as well as its cultural scene. Scoop up every creepy-crawly you spot (you can use your bare hands for this, but all the pros use bug-catching nets). Then, pop that bad bug in a jar for safekeeping.


Protip: Be sure to poke holes in the lid of the jar so your bugs can breath, otherwise they won’t be worth much!

Once your bugs are jarred, you can cash out and sell them to a collector. Or, if you’re feeling generous, donate them to your local museum! Your local museum definitely wants more donors, including donors who show up with jars and jars full of bugs. Trust me on this.  


Pay off Your Loans

The primary antagonist of Animal Crossing isn’t any individual, but rather the terrible force of predatory lending. Players spend countless hours toiling at menial tasks like pulling weeds or building tables just to pay off the exorbitant debt with which they are continually saddled. Lucky for you, you can do this in real life, too!


Protip: Eat the rich.

The next time you start your day at work, whether you’re stocking shelves at the supermarket or staring at spreadsheets on a computer screen for 8 hours, remind yourself: “This is just like Animal Crossing.” The next time you send in rent or pay off a chunk of your student debt, remind yourself: “They do this in Animal Crossing, too.” The next time you fantasize about burning the banks down, remind yourself: “This would be easier to do in Animal Crossing, because the game only has one bank.”


Declare Yourself the Mayor

Animal Crossing puts you in charge of a whole town, because clearly you are the best and know how to get shit done. It’s time you stopped waiting on someone in real life to give you that mandate. Take charge! No one knows what’s going on except for you, and they’ll be grateful for a leader to turn to.


Protip: With great power comes great responsibility.

Be sure to hire someone good to handle all the responsibility for you so you can really go nuts with the power. Now that you’re the mayor, you can make the town in your own image. Put some furniture outside, make it look nice. Don’t like where your neighbor’s house is? Move it! Maybe you think the shopping district could use a moat around it. Well, grab a shovel and get digging, because you’re the goddamn mayor now.


Image: Animal Crossing/Essential Sports

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