Confessions of an Animal Crossing time traveler

As an avid player of Harvest Moon and the Sims, I’m used to day-based games happening a lot faster than normal. After all, if I’m going to sit down and dedicate hours to a game, I want to be able to see some progress!

When it came time for Animal Crossing, I didn’t know until I’d started the game that it runs on a real-world clock. And that in itself wasn’t a problem; I figured like Pokémon, I could just do my thing all day, and it wouldn’t affect gameplay too much.

That is, until Tom Nook told me I’d have to wait for the next day for my house to be built.

I realized that if I wanted to accomplish anything in the game, I’d have to be patient, which isn’t exactly my strong suit and led to a lot of grumbling at poor Shane. His first reaction was one very simple question:

“Why don’t you try changing the time on your Switch?”

Huh. It hadn’t occurred to me, but I immediately tried it out—and lo and behold, my house was suddenly ready.

That was the start of a dangerous game.

That first time travel incident happened Friday night (yes, launch day)—and by Sunday, I had already built the first version of Nook’s Cranny and had almost filled my island with neighbours. By Wednesday I’d triggered the Nook’s Cranny upgrade.

You know, the one that happens when you’ve been playing for 30 days?

I had mastered the art of changing the time on my Switch so the game thought I was progressing. And though I set a strict rule for myself never to get further ahead of real time than a week, I’d convinced the game I was over a month into it already.

From there, it turned into a game of turnips.

By the time Daisy Mae showed up on my island the first time, I was already on my fourth home loan. I had about 100,000 Bells saved up in the bank, and I was very curious about this little piggy and her turnips.

I did some research and though I wouldn’t be able to time travel backward with my turnips, it quickly became clear to me that there would be absolutely no harm in time traveling forward with them. That was soon my favourite way to game the economy; I could buy as many turnips as I wanted and then skip forward through the week to find the best price.

Two weeks of playing in the few hours before work later, I’d managed to pay off my last home loan and then some.

It was an exhilarating power.

But as I traveled, I learned it wasn’t such a great thing.

As I was researching and learning the game, my phone started forwarding me all kinds of stories to help—and a few of them were rather opinionated pieces on the topic of time travel.

As it turns out, it’s a very controversial topic among the player base, and I felt a little self-conscious of it after that.

Was I doing something wrong? Was I inadvertently ruining my game experience by forcing it to go faster? Was I creating a dizzying number of parallel universes where stories continued when I chose to travel back?

In the end, I decided that no, I was not doing any of those things—and just because I wanted to play my game a little faster didn’t make me any less of a true Animal Crossing player. It was just how I wanted to play, and what makes the game that much more fun for me.

And there’s nothing wrong with that!

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