Animal Crossing Diaries
From September 2, 2021
Castle House, Angel Street
Sheffield, S3 8LN United Kingdom
Animal Crossing Diaries is a new online exhibition curated by the National Videogame Museum, "The UK’s national cultural centre for videogames", which examines the social, cultural, and artistic impact of Nintendo's Animal Crossing: New Horizons through the lenses of people who played incessantly in the last two years. In fact, Animal Crossing: New Horizons became the de facto destination of millions of individuals who found themselves "locked down" in their homes during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The exhibition presents a selection from the material the curators received after launching an open call for entries last December. Specifically, it focuses on players’ experience of the game in the span of a year (from March 2020 to April 2021). Unlike artistic projects like Brent Watanabe's Animal Crossing: All Mine (2020), this exhibition focuses on less political and critical uses of the video game, emphasizing instead the emotional impact of game-based social interactions by players. Divided into several sections - e.g., "Sharing Creativity" - it celebrates what Stuart Hall would call a hegemonic-dominant reading of the game, that is, "the interpretation of a mass-media text by a decoder who fully shares its ideological code and accepts and reproduces the preferred reading — a reading which may not have been the result of any conscious intention on the part of those who produced it. In such a stance the dominant code seems natural and transparent." (Oxford Reference), hence the insistent use of terms like "community" and "sharing" in regard to user practices within the game.
Here's an example of a player's story, titled "Keeping Busy":
A useful timeline tracks the overlap between virtual and IRL events.
Animal Crossing Diaries is complemented by an oral history featuring interviews with players and YouTube content creators such as Kang Gaming and Creatrix Tiara, a glossary and several articles that provide contextual information (all the material is journalistic, not academic).
LINK: Animal Crossing Diaries