Animal Crossing | The Game That Defines Nikki

<< Previous | Adventure Map | Next >>

TGTDU Logo - Copy


From the artist that accompanied Hyrule: See the Sights! Hear the Sounds!, Vapidbobcat has also made an atmospheric Animal Crossing piece. Soak in this amazing piece of music. 


The Games That Define Us features carefully chosen music and remixes from the franchise of the game represented. Music is a key component of sharing the emotions one feels about a game, so we hope you will press the play button if you’re in a position to do so. 


Just a brief summary if this is your first time here: This collaboration is a 34-day long adventure through video games. Each piece is its own unique audiovisual experience, complete with artwork, designs, music, and (most importantly) amazing works of prose by brilliant bloggers around the world. This adventure will take you through nostalgia, joy, ambition, self-discovery, regret, anxiety, frustration, mourning, and every human experience in between. Video games exist as fragments on the timeline of our lives, and each one of us have chosen the adventure we feel most defines us.

It took work, but I managed to drag Nikki away from writing her thesis long enough to compose this wonderfully nostalgic piece. How could I be so lucky? Not only is my wife an amazing person, but she’s also an incredible writer. She really is brilliant — she can use brevity and free-flowing language to convey feelings in ways I rarely can.

Once you finish up here, please be sure to check out her other incredible pieces here on Normal Happenings:

We hope you enjoy this special chapter of The Games That Define Us!

– Matthew, Normal Happenings



Dqw2UQeWoAA2QIo (1).jpg

Nikki @ Normal Happenings

Twitter: @NormalNikki

For friendship…

Game: Animal Crossing
System: Gamecube
Release Date: April 14, 2001

1P Start

Throughout my life, I have always made time for my friends. I am a big believer in keeping your friends close, even when life changes happen. This is why I liked doing things for the characters in Animal Crossing.

Throughout my life I have always had amazing friends, but I want to take it back to the days before I could drive. Back to when I depended on my bicycle to get me around the two neighborhoods that I grew up in. In those two neighborhoods — one being my father’s house in Eclectic, Alabama, U.S., and the other being my grandmother’s house in Montgomery, Alabama — I played outside with my childhood friends until the sun went down. Then I would go in and everyone would go to bed. I, being the night owl that I was (and still am), would stay up. I would often read, journal, or watch a movie well into the night. I was also plagued with horrible nightmares throughout my life, so sleep would usually come in waves for me.


One day an old friend of mine told me about a game called Animal Crossing and the rest is history. Time would pass ever so slowly in the game, but I would literally play all day. I wanted to pay off my house, I wanted to explore the land, and I wanted to most importantly be there for my friends. My family and real friends would have to tear me away from my town sometimes, but I have a secret.

I am no stranger to hardship, and at times the harshness of my life circumstances made me retreat into my own brain. I think these hardships are why I am so responsible now. Paying off the house in the game taught me that nothing worth doing  in this life is free. Everything requires hard work and time. Being a good friend has always been something that I strive for. Throughout my life, I have always made time for my friends. I am a big believer in keeping your friends close, even when life changes happen. This is why I liked doing things for the characters in Animal Crossing.

I loved the feeling of being able to decorate my house with wallpaper from Sable and Mable’s store because I felt like I was being a good friend to them by supporting their business. I loved delivering packages for the characters, not because it was fun, but because sometimes life is tedious and it is in those moments you can find real beauty in life. When I would see one of those cute animals dance around for helping them out, I couldn’t help but smile.

The monotonous patterns in the game mirror those same cycles in life. If my dad needed me to go with him on an errand I might’ve preferred to stay at home doing anything else back then, but looking back, it was in those small moments that we shared some of the best conversations. I hate to repeat myself, but beauty is found in moments like that.

Exploring the land reminded me that imaginations are vital in life. For example, I would often just run around and explore the game, and I would find the most random things —  old shirts, bouncy balls, and even wallpaper. This is similar to my life because I played outside often. My old neighbor and I used to pretend that we had a treehouse in the middle of the woods. We pretended to chop down wood, look at building plans, and figure out how to put up our pretend “No Boys Allowed” sign. All of these things were made up, but they felt real to me, just like the things in the game were to my character.

Whenever my friends weren’t home, or if they couldn’t hang out with me (we never called it “playing” because we were cooler than that), I would immerse myself into a different kind of world with friends that taught me all about life. Not only did the game itself have moments that taught me about life, but also many of the characters reminded me of people and how to treat and read them.

Tortimer made me realize that respecting my elders is essential to living a good life. If I as a human being can’t admire a person for living out their life well into old age then am I really doing things correctly? Yes, the elderly can be slow, forgetful, and even grumpy, but I like to look for the diamond in the rough. I listen to their stories and think about who they were when they were young. This respect also reminds me of where I will end up if I am lucky enough to live that long.

Rover taught me to listen carefully even when a person can be long-winded. At the beginning of the game you would talk to Rover and he would literally talk forever. I was always rude to him as a kid, but looking back has kind of taught me to be opposite of that towards people that talk a lot. Yes, they can be annoying, but they can sometimes be some of the most helpful people ever. It is also good to know another person’s story. Rover made me get out of my head and listen to him.

Mr. Resetti would often appear on the screen when I forgot to save. He would angrily tell me to always save before turning off the system. He taught me that following the rules and taking the time to think about each day is important because life is something to cherish. If I were to just go to bed and get up every single day without considering how the day went then I would feel like my days were running together.

Finally, Tom Nook taught me that evil can come in a deceptively cute package. It’s no coincidence that he is a raccoon with eyes resembling a mask. Nook wanted all of my money from the moment I met him, and as my debt to him grew, his store grew larger and larger. He seemed to have my best interest in mind when he was selling to me, but in reality he knew that he could make a hefty prophet off of me. In my life, some of the worst people started out as people that I thought were trustworthy. Be wary of the Tom Nooks in your life!

My real friends taught me about life in a very real and sometimes jarring way. Growing up is sticky for any human being, and I appreciate and love everything they have done for me. However, when I needed it most, Animal Crossing taught me life lessons in a much more beautiful way.


adventure map

WordPress Reader viewers, please consider enjoying this post again on the site. While we designed with you in mind, you miss some of the nuances of the piece by not enjoying it in its original form. 


This collaboration took an overwhelming amount of time and dedication from 34 exceptionally creative, incredible makers! Help us with the resources to make more, even better, collaborations in the future! We also have aspirations of developing a podcast called Normal Talks about optimistically appreciating everyday life! Please consider becoming a patron of Normal Happenings and help us try to make the world a better, more positive place!

<< Previous | Adventure Map | Next >>

5 thoughts on “Animal Crossing | The Game That Defines Nikki

  1. This is such a unique story. I like how you were able to identify the key areas in life that you were able to grow based on the connections you made in the game. Animal Crossing is such a cute game and I love the mobile app.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s