Animal Crossing and Sharing Heritage

For many players of Animal Crossing: New Horizons, the only museum they have seen the inside of for a while has been its in-game museum. Some have been entertained by donating countless items to the museum’s director, Blathers. However, a range of players have also been using the game in new, unexpected creative ways to connect to their heritage and one another.

Left: NoahQuimsy. Right: Shivani Reddy – Picture.

Museums and cultural organisations have played along. The Museum of English Rural Life launched a digital smock challenge encouraging users to design smocks inspired by its collection. The Met made its open-access collection available to add to the game with an Animal Crossing QR code generator. And some festivals have entirely adapted to an in-game format – such as Melbourne Fringe’s ACNH Fringe island!

Submissions to our Animal Crossing Diaries open call documenting the way players interact with the game during the pandemic have shown players outside of museums and heritage creating their own personal connections to heritage and cultural events. Some have looked towards recreating places they could not visit:

As a professor of medieval history, I used to typically travel across the Atlantic at least once a year for my research. Losing this freedom was a major blow – but I found solace in my ability to craft my island after the historical sites that I love to visit.

MATT KING
Shivani Reddy – Picture.

Others have reimagined their island as a space that could express their culture in new unique ways:

After seeing multiple people create islands based off of their Asian heritage (Japan, Thailand, Philippines, etc) I was inspired to pay homage to my cultural upbringing and that’s how Bollywood was born. Every nook & cranny of Bollywood is jam packed with cultural significance and rich history about India and its monuments, people, food, art, and daily life. (…) This process has not only been therapeutic but has allowed me to connect with people who have visited India and hear their stories.

Shivani Reddy
@NoahQuinnsy – Picture.

Last Summer, physical Pride events were cancelled across the world. As a consequence, many digital alternatives flourished so that this long standing protest and its history could be shared. The need to celebrate this shared LGBTQIA+ heritage and feel connected to a wider community led many players, such as NoahQuinnsy, to create their own personal Pride celebration in Animal Crossing.

Now we want to hear your stories around sharing heritage in Animal Crossing as a response to the pandemic as well, big or small!

Follow this link here to access the open call: animalcrossing.thenvm.org

The first round of submissions will close on 30th March 2021.

Want to read more about our Animal Crossing Diaries project? Check out some of our responses relating to love and friendship and lockdown wellbeing here.