Blog Response: MDA & 8 Kinds of Fun

(Posting late, so sorry about that!!)

A game I love is Animal Crossing New Horizons. Through the MDA lens, I classify its core aesthetic as expression, with undertones of fantasy, submission, and even fellowship.

Mechanics – decorating, collecting/hoarding, grinding,

Dynamics –  schedule, time based, create sense of reality, slow and hard work, integration with lifestyle (if you don’t time skip!)

Alone the Mechanics and Dynamics don’t sound that interesting or unique, but the package/costume it comes in adds so much to the experience of Animal Crossing. Combined with Animal Crossing’s overall aesthetic, the game becomes an escape to a your own cute world, a synchronous, separate life.

In my opinion it’s the overall aesthetic of ACNH that distinguishes it from other decorating, grinding games. It is full of personality and cuteness, and is immersive: it reduces menus by using metaphors like your personal cellphone, the NookMiles machine, and you interface with mechanics through cute talking characters. Items do not show up in expansive menus but physically in limited supply at a shop, and plants take days to grow.

In this way it’s different than Sims 4 where you can open a menu and select from any furniture at all, where you can buy and sell on the go. Animal Crossing’s slow burn creates a bond between me and my game world and game possessions, and does an impressive and charming job at keeping the fourth wall up. In most simulation games I feel a sense of depression knowing I have explored all options and that my work is contained to the game, and I have spent hours playing (alone) with an elaborate toy. But the overall happy escapist feeling created by Animal Crossing is the reason I keep on coming back to my island and always look forward to a chance to play again.

About the author

Soph, love art, probably doing graphics track :)

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