Best Of 2020: 6 Things My Three-Year-Old Taught Me About Video Games, Via Animal Crossing 1

Best Of 2020: 6 Things My Three-Year-Old Taught Me About Video Games, Via Animal Crossing

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Over the holiday season we’ll be republishing a series of Nintendo Life articles, interviews and other features from the previous twelve months that we consider to be our Best of 2020. Hopefully, this will give you a chance to catch up on pieces you missed, or simply enjoy looking back on a year which did have some highlights — honest!

This feature was originally published in April 2020.


When a cutie-bunny-hedgehog-kitty game comes out alongside Doom Eternal and Doom 64, it’s a test of self-confidence for a grown man to take it to the shop counter. Failing that test despicably, I invented the weak and unnecessary excuse that I could play Animal Crossing: New Horizons with my little boy. Working at home during the UK’s Coronavirus lockdown, I saw a great chance to make him collect weeds and sticks while I was in meetings, to take the edge off that early-game grind for me – oh, and to bond with him, I suppose.

The first part of that plan didn’t exactly come off: his stilted bumping around and forgetting controls was painful to watch and he couldn’t harvest for toffee. Sure, there were some cute moments in there – he called our character “Moo” and modelled him on his baby brother – but there was a lot of frustration, like when he named our island “Water”, condemning me to an eternity of being asked “What’s a water airport? What’s a water museum?” and so on.

But as I tried to teach him the grammar of gaming, his “Why? Why? Why?” forced me to challenge the dusty assumptions of a gamer who accidentally became a retro gamer. Here are the six lessons he ended up teaching me.