Mine, Mine, Mine! Nintendo Neuters The Cool Ways People, Groups Are Using 'Animal Crossing'

from the nintendon't dept

To be honest, Animal Crossing was always going to be a hit. It's just the perfect distillation of the Nintendo experience: a cutesy social experience couched in harmless video game fun. Still, one unanticipated side effect of the global COVID-19 pandemic was how plenty of people and groups turned to the game for new and innovative ways of connecting with others. Examples abound, including players building a real-world economy around the game's resources, TV stars plying a version of their trade in the game, protests and social movements springing up in the game's world, and even the use of the game as part of the presidential election campaign. Mostly absent was any pushback from the gaming community. Instead, these few instances of crossover from real world to gaming world appeared to simply show the power of what Nintendo had created: an open and innovative gaming experience based on community and unbridled social interaction.

That description, of course, is about as historically un-Nintendo as it gets, so perhaps it's not entirely surprising that a recent update from Nintendo over its usage terms for the game seems to squarely aim to neuter much of this. In a post titled "Animal Crossing: New Horizons usage guidelines for businesses and organizations", which you can read for yourself in its entirety, Nintendo prohibits groups and organizations from doing the following:

However, please observe the following points when you engage in these activities.

Please be aware of the game rating and do not engage in activities that go beyond the rating.

Please refrain from using the Game inappropriately or creating any content within the Game that would be considered vulgar, discriminatory, or offensive. Please also refrain from bringing politics into the Game.

Please do not share false information about the Game with anyone, and do not deceive others while using the Game (e.g. falsely indicating you are separately licensed or otherwise approved by Nintendo).

Please do not leverage the Game as a marketing platform that directs people to activities or campaigns outside the game (including directing people to a sales page, distributing coupons, sweepstakes, giveaways, requiring consumers to follow social network services accounts, gathering customers’ information, or other invitational activities).

You are not allowed to obtain any financial benefit from using the Game (including selling your Custom Design or earning any advertising revenue with the Game content).

Now, some of these prohibitions are reasonable, albeit quite vague. No, you shouldn't falsely imply sanctioning by Nintendo; no, you shouldn't break the game's age rating through your actions.

But reading those guidelines pretty clearly also prohibits several of the cool interactions we detailed in the opening. Making any money from selling the game's resources to other gamers. Starting social movements within the game. And if all politics in the game are banned, there goes the innovative organizing use by Biden or other politicians as well.

And on that last bit about removing all politics from the game world: good fucking luck. This is a game built on social interaction and, since politics in 2020 has managed to invade every last crevice of our over-bloated society, it's going to come up. I imagine Nintendo mostly wants to limit official campaign actions within the game, which is stupid in and of itself. Still, building a social game and then telling customers how they can be social is simply not going to work.

Again, it's not surprising: this is as Nintendo as it gets. But it is certainly disappointing.

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Filed Under: animal crossing, culture, politics
Companies: nintendo


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  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Re-Un-Dis-Ambiguate, 24 Nov 2020 @ 8:32pm

    "Neuters"? Do you mean limits, restricts? Or NEUTRAL as should?

    Seems to be keeping "politics" out would be good!

    Why do you hoot the attempt? Should Nintendo NOT even try?


    By the way, "accounts" started showing up in the Parler piece just when Tiimmy would be placing this on-line. Coinkydink? I doubt it, since he clearly runs the astro-turfing here.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    GHB (profile), 24 Nov 2020 @ 8:45pm

    The same should go with Mario maker series too

    I mean, according to the wording:

    “Please refrain from using the Game inappropriately or creating any content within the Game that would be considered vulgar, discriminatory, or offensive. Please also refrain from bringing politics into the Game.”

    According to some youtube videos on one of the mariomaker levels that I couldn't remember the title that got removed shows an inappropriate gesture of a bullet bill cannon and two cement blocks on a track moving up and down showing, umm, yeah.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 25 Nov 2020 @ 5:18am

    Still, building a social game and then telling customers how they can be social is simply not going to work.

    What did people expect?

    This is the same company that still requires friend codes, A.K.A pre-authorized contact, before allowing people to interact with each other in it's games.

    This is also the company that tries desperately to force people into playing it's games the One True Way. For ACNH, see also the forced auto save feature that fires once every 45 - 60 seconds, AES hashing of the game's .text / .rodata program segments that get sent to their servers in singleplayer mode, the flat out missing holiday / seasonal event content at launch (inserted to the game via patch prior to first occurrence) to discourage time-traveling, the few events that require network time sync to Nintendo's servers to be enabled and sync'd to activate to further discourage time-traveling, threats of banning people for sharing too much of certain items regardless if they are obtained legally, etc.

    Honestly they'd probably remove the texture designer function from AC if too many cartoon penises started popping up. (That's pretty much what happened to SwapNote on the 3DS.)

    Nintendo is just a shady company. Built by a legacy it no longer honors (Seal of Quality). Running on the inertia of nostalgia. Pissing off it's fans. Destroying everything that it touches.

    Not much left to do but wait for Nintendo to either fail, or find some management that actually cares about not becoming the next Sega, Konami, or worse, Atari.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 25 Nov 2020 @ 5:20am

    I agree with Ninty on this one. Keep the politics on Twitter, Facebook, etc., or else Animal Crossing will soon be Hater Crossing. Opinions are like butt holes, we all have one, but there's a time and a place for everything.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 25 Nov 2020 @ 6:44am

      Here’s a fun question to consider: Does showing flags related to gay/trans/queer pride count as “politics”? Imagine for a moment than Nintendo said “yes” and told people not to display any kind of queer pride flag on their islands. Then imagine the size, speed, and strength of the backlash that would occur as a result of that dictate.

      Saying “keep politics out of [x]” is fine in theory. But you will inevitably run into situations where trying to keep out politics means you’ll be met with swift and unmerciful backlash for deciding a certain thing (e.g., queer pride) is “political”. I mean, do you want to be the one to tell Black gamers that their Animal Crossing islands can’t have “Black Lives Matter” signs?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 25 Nov 2020 @ 7:25am

        Re:

        Excuse me, Sir. You're stepping on my fragile sensibilities.
        But really, this whole argument reminds me of the Epic vs. Apple case. My view is that if I own/make/maintain the store, then I get to dictate and regulate how stuff is sold in the store; especially if we're (store owner & content creator) in legal contract. Similarly, if I develop/publish/maintain Animal Crossing, then I get to say what's allowable. Especially given that this is a game that Children play, YES, Ninty has every right to determine what's allowable therein.
        Based on your Laissez Faire view, why not allow absolutely all political views to be expressed in Animal Crossing: Nazis, Pedophiles, KKK, Terrorists, Militant Vegetarians, etc.?
        To answer your question, Nope: there should be no Black Lives Matter signs, nor queer pride signs in the game. If you want a game filled with the aggregation of various political/social groups, make that game yourself. Keep your peanut butter out of my chocolate.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Stephen T. Stone (profile), 25 Nov 2020 @ 7:36am

          [Nintendo] has every right to determine what's allowable therein.

          I can’t believe I have to keep saying this: Having the right to do a thing doesn’t make it the right thing to do.

          Nintendo could keep such signage/iconography out of Animal Crossing. It has that right; no one here with any sense would say otherwise. But Nintendo saying “take down your trans flag signs” to queer players, even in the nicest way possible, would absolutely alienate those people. Those people, in turn, would do their level best to paint Nintendo as an anti-queer company (a charge that wouldn’t be wholly inaccurate). The company might not lose a lot of business in the long run, but it would certainly lose a lot of respect — as well as customers that could end up never buying another Nintendo product ever again.

          And all that besides: The existence of queer people is not politics, and queer people celebrating their existence is not (inherently) political. Anyone who says otherwise is selling you something that won’t do you any good but will most certainly help them spread anti-queer propaganda.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 25 Nov 2020 @ 8:14am

            Re:

            "Having the right to do a thing doesn’t make it the right thing to do."

            You're helping my argument. Just because I have the right to put up "God hates fags", "Satan hates christians", "Itchy hates Scratchy", etc. signage doesn't mean that it's the right thing to do. The rightness or wrongness of such signage is based on 2 facts:

            1. (again) this is a game for Children - rated as such
            2. Ninty's game that Ninty maintains: Ninty's rules
              If a group of alienated people are that upset at their lack of representation (or misrepresentation), they should either develop their own game, or church up and pay some devs to make and publish a game for them - then lobby to get said game in the hand of the people on various platforms.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • icon
              Stephen T. Stone (profile), 25 Nov 2020 @ 8:47am

              this is a game for Children - rated as such

              Tell me: What makes the mere existence of queer people inherently “out of bounds” for a game aimed at children? Because it sounds like you might believe the existence of queer people is either inherently political or inherently sexual, and neither belief does you any favors.

              [Nintendo]'s game that [it] maintains

              Again: Having the right to do a thing doesn’t make it the right thing to do. Nintendo could alienate/piss off a sizeable portion of its userbase by forcing the removal of queer pride iconography such as trans pride flags. But why would they risk a backlash so severe that said backlash might affect a financial bottom line?

              Nintendo telling political campaigns to stay out of Animal Crossing is one thing. Nintendo essentially telling queer people to stay in the closet while they play Animal Crossing is a whole other situation with actual income-affecting consequences. You have a lot of thinking to do if you think those situations really do amount to the same thing.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 25 Nov 2020 @ 8:34am

            Re:

            People disagree all the time. That's a good thing because none of us is perfect, and if we actually listen to each other, we might actually learn something sometimes; however, there is a right and a wrong place for us to discuss/argue our opinions.
            We could choose to get our lawn chairs and sit in the middle of the highway/interstate to debate our disagreement, but that's the wrong place for that discussion. Similarly, Animal Crossing is the wrong place to throw up our political/social gang signs - especially after the dev/publisher of the game has told us not to do so. That's why God made talk shows.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • icon
              Stephen T. Stone (profile), 25 Nov 2020 @ 8:48am

              political/gang signs

              Wow. And here I thought you couldn’t get any worse on this subject. Now you’re comparing queer people to street gangs?

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
                identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 25 Nov 2020 @ 12:09pm

                Re:

                Oh I get. This is trolling. Stephen is trolling.

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • identicon
                Sharur, 27 Nov 2020 @ 1:26am

                Re:

                Sure. While arguably a false equivalence in most contexts, they both share the relevant trait that some (probably very loud) idiots morons groups of people believe they are things that children "should not be exposed to under any circumstances, WHY WONT YOU THINK OF THE CHILDREN, YOU MONSTER".

                Thankfully, this seems to be changing, but arguably in this case, what is true is not as relevant as what decision makers believe is true (especially when it comes to changing a long standing policy, rather than instituting a new one). The old adage about "no one has gotten fired for buying IBM/Microsoft" comes to mind.

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 27 Nov 2020 @ 1:47am

            Re:

            "But Nintendo saying “take down your trans flag signs” to queer players, even in the nicest way possible, would absolutely alienate those people."

            In this specific instance I'd have to insist the first reasonable question should be "Does Nintendo similarly request all flag signs implying or tangenting sexuality, or is it just about LGBTQ?"

            If the answer is "Yes" then Nintendo is simply moderating the game by staid american-style morality where informing children about biological facts is somehow bad.
            If the answer is "No" then that does send a message all its own.

            "The existence of queer people is not politics, and queer people celebrating their existence is not (inherently) political."

            False conclusion. The existence of queer people or people celebrating their gender identity or sexual orientation should not be political. But as long as there are people willing to cast their vote on politicians who are openly anti-queer, it will be.
            And probably will remain so for a long time given that the existence of sex, in general, is still a political issue, for the same reason.

            It's pretty much given that any game marketed to children, launched in markets likely to contain puritans, will be moderated in such a way that any reference to gender biology will be flattened by the banhammer.

            "Anyone who says otherwise is selling you something that won’t do you any good but will most certainly help them spread anti-queer propaganda."

            In this, the best of all possible worlds, my dear Tartúffe...

            Seriously, Stephen, I think every halfway enlightened individual gets where you're coming from, but realpolitik isn't founded on sane rationality or tolerance. An issue becomes political the very second some intolerant asshat from some small-town burgh in podunk country, ass-end Kentucky decides to cast their ballot for a bigot.

            "Being black" shouldn't be political either. I refer to you every damn year between 1968 and 2020 for evidence overturning that hypothesis.
            Generally speaking? If you have to say "My life matters too" and fight in courts and on the senate floor for the same rights extended to everyone who isn't a minority...then don't kid yourself. Your very existence is a political issue because assholes exist who make it so.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 28 Nov 2020 @ 4:51am

        Re:

        I would not be the least surprised if Nintendo started banning people for rainbows and other combinations of colors that trigger conservatives.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 25 Nov 2020 @ 5:47am

    PSA: Neuter Scalpers

    Don't buy from scalpers, kids.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 25 Nov 2020 @ 6:35am

    Not cool

    There are many words I might use to describe the trade of game resources for real money, but "cool" would most certainly never be one. This is a business steeped in fraud and abuse, from bot farming and chat spam all the way to hacked accounts and stolen credit cards.

    It's expressly forbidden by practically every online game in existence for a very good reason, and I would call Nintendo incredibly naive if they are just now getting around to following the standard.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 25 Nov 2020 @ 8:30am

      Re: Not cool

      Definitely. While I sympathize with the people who got laid off due to the pandemic, them selling Bells (the ingame currency) that they acquire for real money is very much the same thing as gold-farming in WoW or any other MMO. And if I recall, there are people who also sell much-sought-after characters, as well. That kind of stuff doesn't fly in other online games, and shouldn't fly here.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous, 25 Nov 2020 @ 10:54am

    Be honest Timmy

    You play Animal crossing.

    AM I RIGHT?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Nov 2020 @ 4:43am

    I hate hearing "don't bring politics into this" in any context. It is literally impossible, and just a request not to talk about the politics that are already there, inherent in every social setting.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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