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Think Animal Crossing is just a cutesy 'capitalist dystopia'? Think again


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Oct 27, 2021
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Animal Crossing: New Horizons’ simulated paradise is said to have a dark capitalist underbelly. But a popular subreddit where players can donate items reveals the kindness – and generosity – of strangers

In our current era of global capitalism, we’ve come to accept you can’t get owt for nowt. Imagine my surprise, then, when on 6 May, a stranger from Leeds handed me four solid lumps of gold. Though I tried to offer money in return, the generous 20-year-old refused. Within minutes, she had disappeared.

Yes, it’s probably relevant that this exchange took place in the simulated paradise of Animal Crossing: New Horizons, a game that has been purchased more than 13m times since its March launch. The encounter would have been only marginally more spectacular in real life because gold is valuable in Animal Crossing, too; it can take hours of hitting digital rocks to procure a single lump – and a stranger I met over Facebook gave me four for free.

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