Have you been playing Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp on your phone a little bit each day? Were you enjoying helping out your friendly neighbors with frivolous tasks, crafting your favorite style of coffee table and generally just vibing along to it all? Well the director of NieR: Automata is here to tell you just how messed up Pocket Camp actually is.
In a recent Gamasutra post, Yoko Taro calls Tom Nook the Lehman Brothers (famously the only big Wall Street financial firm not to get a government bailout for investing in junk mortgages) of Animal Crossing: New Leaf and explains that he started the new mobile game in the hopes of turning the tables on the landlord. “I wanted to get revenge on him in the mobile version,” says Taro. In a blog post back in 2012 which a fan translated, the designer called Nook a loan shark and complained about being coerced into buying. He’s been holding a grudge ever since. (Who wouldn’t? That dude’s the fucking worst).
Taro was disappointed with the lack of freedom in Pocket Camp though. What’s more, he found the whole trading animal meat with other animals weird and morbid.
“Let’s take, for example, what the ‘monsters’ eat. The rabbit seems to be of the normal herbivorous variety, but can be seen, in this game, grilling and eating fish. Also, in this game, pigs and cows enjoy barbecue (but you can’t see what they’re grilling). What is going on in this ecosystem? When you run out of things to eat, do you resort to cannibalism? Is there so much difference in the intelligence of birds and fish? If you walk on two legs and talk, does that mean you won’t be hunted? Is the value of your life determined by your intelligence? There are so many interesting themes hidden in this game.”
Last month, model Chrissy Teigen knocked Pocket Camp for having all the tedium of a regular Animal Crossing game without any of the heart and soul. “What kind of crap is this teaching us?” she tweeted. “I need a hammock to have friends? Fruit will grow faster if I throw money at it? I’m deleting this.”
Taro’s on a similar but somehow darker wavelength. At one point he likens playing the game to a Marxist critique of economic relations. “Why do you have to collect things that are right next to the monsters to make them happy, like a slave?” he asks. “I guess this represents the divisions between people in class society.”
Of course, it’s a someone ironic observation coming from Taro, the game designer who joked he’d do just about anything if he got money for it during an interview with Famitsu. Taro also recently sent out reminders about voting for NieR for Game of the Year to fans, saying it was kind of pointless. “If we’re going to send the fans something, it really should be a much more thoughtful gift, like cold, hard cash or something,” he concluded.
Perhaps as the person who helped create a game about killer robots who can only be humanized through prolonged tragedy, Taro knows that even if Pocket Camp’s quid pro quo economy and quasicanibalism is messed up, so taking down one loan shark won’t change anything. “I’ll enjoy playing this game until I burn that dark forest down,” he concludes his post, noting that he’s refused to put any furniture in his camp besides a kerosene tank.