Money Stalks

I don’t think I’m playing Animal Crossing right.

For those who don’t play, there is this character named Daisy. Every Sunday she shows up and offers to sell you turnips at a certain rate. This rate can fluctuate by a wide margin, according to the community.

You buy the turnips, and then you offer to sell them to Timmy and Tommy at Nook’s Cranny. Each day, they offer a different price for how much they’ll pay. If it is just you on an island, you run into some real risks. Should you sell? What if tomorrow is better? Should I hold until a future day? You only have a week, and each morning and evening the prices are prone to changing. It’s a real hassle.

BUT! If you happen to have a couple friends who each have their own separate prices for buying and selling on any given day on their own islands, suddenly Animal Crossing turns into one of the most cut and dry cases of insider trading ever devised in video game history.

The numbers are glorious. My friends and I make multiple trips to each other’s islands for turnips. We run out of room in storage and begin to lay turnips down in our house. We fill our pockets up and forego any other tools or accessories. It is mercenary down here! We have a discord channel solely dedicated to the stalk market, where we list prices and make arrangements.

But something has happened as a result of all this buying and selling.

By the middle of the game, once you upgrade town hall and once Isabelle shows up, you come to understand that everything you want to do in Animal Crossing, much like real life, costs money. Building bridges, laying down pavement, expanding your house, remodeling your house, decorating your house, paying off loans, buying weird fake paintings from a fox, etc.

But each time I spend money, it takes away from the possible turnips I could buy from Daisy each week. That money is not available as a liquid asset, it is embedded in the island.

This is a real problem, because now (and also because I am an adult with things to do in my life) I have left the island to squalor. Weeds and rocks are cropping up everywhere. Citizens are like, “Where is Colton at?” There are fossils dotting the landscape, begging to be assessed by Blathers, balloons with presents are floating by, and the rivers and coastlines are overly crowded with fish and seashells. Bunny Day went by, Earth day went by. I could care less. Those are not valued as high as the turnips.

I was just thinking through all this, that my island and its key resident and investor having abandoned his home is no different than our American system, which is keen on companies using even their research and development budgets to reinvest money in the stock market (Microsoft is just one of a handful who do this), while our infrastructure faces decades old problems.

Is it too much of a stretch to see the similarities between my behavior in a game, and the incentives given to companies to avoid taxation for the public welfare at all costs?

In Animal Crossing, there is no progressive tax system, yet the game also assumes that I plan on building the island up and working with the residents to “beautify” the island in a way that is self-actualizing. But what if I simply expanded my house and filled it with stuff? There is no reason why I couldn’t.

That’s how the game is played out here anyway.

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