Friday, July 20, 2007

When video games run your life!

I think every gamer has been in that place where they have this one game that they are just absolutely addicted. A game that can be played for hours on end, and just can’t seem to be put down. A game that just completely sucks you in to the point that the real world now revolves around your game. You have to make scheduling changes just to make sure you don’t miss a certain item in your game. You cancel plans because you don’t want to give up yet. Yep, all gamers have been there. In fact, I’m willing to bet that most gamers have been there on more than one occasion. I know I have. And I’m there right now.

Yes my fellow VGLosers, I am currently entwined in the universe known as Animal Crossing: Wild World for the Nintendo DS. It’s a world where you are a human trying to make a living in a town full of cutesy animal residents. Don’t look at me like that. I know that a lot of you gamers have picked up this game and got lost in it as well. And for those of you who haven’t, you probably just haven’t given it a proper chance.

Yep, even I have friends who give me crap and like to roll their eyes at me when I tell them what I’m playing. Animal Crossing is a sim game, basically. And although it looks cute and cuddly, it is very in-depth and highly addicting. Don’t believe me? Yeah, I know. You can’t get over the way the game looks, can you? You’d rather be blowing the heads off zombies, or “pwning sum noobs” at Halo 2, right? Well, truth is this kind of a game isn’t for every body. But even if you’re not too big into sim games, I bet that if given the proper chance, Animal Crossing could wrap you up just as it did me.

There is so much to do in this game, it’s ridiculous. So many goals and so little time. The reason there is little time, you ask? Well, that’s because this game is in “real time,” meaning that if it’s 5:00 pm in real life, its 5:00 pm in your Animal Crossing town. And certain things happen at certain times of the day. Certain events take place on certain dates. And certain hard-to-find items may only appear at those late hours of the night, or early hours of the morning. And, unless you’re a dirty cheater and like to change the time on your DS to make things easier for you, accomplishing all of your goals can be quite a challenge.

Some of the goals in this game include paying off your mortgage to get bigger, better house, furnishing your house and finding and buying new and rare types of furniture, planting flowers and trees to get a perfect town, catching bugs and fish to donate to your museum, make friends with the townsfolk, the list can go on and on.

It may not sound like much, but you really find yourself trying to accomplish your goals. You get rewarded for accomplishing certain tasks. For example, catching every fish there is to catch in the game will yield a prize called the golden fishing rod. The problem is that certain fish are only available at certain times of the day, and even still, only certain times of the year! Yep, the seasons change, and so do the fish and insects that can be caught. It makes it hard to reach your goals, but that much more rewarding when you do.

Buying furniture is a lot of fun as well. There is such a huge catalog you can accumulate filled with wallpapers, carpets, shirts, accessories, and different types of furniture. Some items are far rarer than others. For you Nintendo fans out there, you might be happy to know you can even obtain cool little items like the Triforce or a Metroid. I know I love that! Its cool little things like that that keeps me constantly searching, buying, and trading for new pieces of furniture to fill my catalog with.

So, as you can see, there is a lot to do in this game. Meaning, my life revolves around it. I have a daily routine now, it seems. I check the game every morning. I start by watering all of the flowers in my town to make sure they don’t die. I talk to all of my town’s folk, to maintain friendships and keep them from moving. I check the stores to see if there is anything new that I haven’t bought yet. I pull all the weeds that grew over night. If there is a special visitor, I talk to them and try to earn whatever goodie they are offering. I mail any letters that need to be mailed. I check the recycling bin for items I may want to take. I shake trees to look for stashed bells (money), I sell some fruit to earn money, and I look for buried fossils to take to the museum. After that, I do anything else that may come up. If there’s a special event at a certain time, I try to get on at that time. If I need to fish or bug hunt for something I need, I’ll do that. If I want to go wi-fi with some people I meet online and trade items, I may do that. It’s crazy. This game has me planning my whole day around it just to make sure my town stays at its perfect status!

This is not the first time a game has done this to me, and I’m sure it won’t be the last. And, in my opinion, if a game can manage to get a gamer like me this wrapped up, then they did something right. If you’ve never given Animal Crossing a try, I’d recommend it. Maybe you won’t care for it at all, or maybe you’ll get sucked in just as much as I did. You’d be surprised. You can pick up either version of the game, for the Gamecube or the DS. Plus, they’ve announced a Wii version of the game coming next year. I can already see my schedule becoming full.

I’m going to end this one off by asking all of you VGLosers out there what games have done this to you? Share your experiences! Tell me what game has got you so sucked in that you didn’t care about the real world!

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