Animal Crossing: An Analysis from our Culture AI

Nintendo Switch showing Animal Crossing game

Quilt.AI functions as a tech-human hybrid — a team of data scientists and culture researchers seeking to understand human behaviour through dual lenses of semiotics and data. This week, the team set out to better understand the Animal Crossing craze that swept through the world over the last quarter. Specifically, we focused on studying who the Animal Crossing players are, and what makes this game so appealing.

We ran several hundred images from the Instagram hashtags #acnhcommunity and #animalcrossingnewhorizons through our Culture AI models to understand the dominant sentiments associated with the game.

Examining the Communicative Functions of Colours in Animal Crossing

Just as spoken language allows us to engage in ‘speech acts’ — linguistic utterances such as greetings, compliments, and complaints- colours are a visual language with colour acts, permitting us to convey interpersonal meaning. Strong colours, when worn in clothing, can intimidate, and when found in warning signs, caution.

What do the colours in Animal Crossing communicate to players?

Colour chart of top colours

From our colour detection model, top colours detected were rosy brown, pink, white smoke, light pink and misty rose. These colours convey softness and tranquility, promoting calmness.

Following those colours were cooler ones such as cadet blue, pale turquoise and aquamarine. In this time of great uncertainty and new normals — terms now familiar mainstays in the world’s vocabulary, Animal Crossing offers an escape back to simpler times and less complicated circumstances.

The easy-on-the-eyes, gentle colours of the Animal Crossing landscape express a comfortable emotive temperature that puts players at ease — not too warm or too cool, too foreign or too familiar.

A Study of Feelings in Animal Crossing

bar graph of emotion readings
Our Emotion AI analysis

Of the instagram posts studied, dominant emotions detected were positive ones, of the mellow sort: our Culture AI tagged approximately 91% of posts as exhibiting creativity, 73% as displaying happiness, 52% showing affiliation, and 50 % of them as being affectionate.

The Phenomena of the Unexciting Game

On the other hand, only 17% of images studied were tagged as excitement-containing. This was a particularly interesting tidbit to the Quilt team. Ordinarily, games’ appeal come from their nature as an avenue for seeking thrills and riding adrenaline rushes — think exciting racing games, multiplayer fantasy online games, or first person shooter games.

From our AI results, it seems Animal Crossing offers the opposite of that. The game’s unique offering is its uneventfulness, or blandness.

On the official site, Animal Crossing’s creator Nintendo described the game with spectacular simplicity: as a platform where players “Create a home, interact with cute animal villagers, and just enjoy life”.

Indeed, it offers just that. No more, no less. Players in this game spend their time building their home, socialising with other anthropomorphised animals, fishing,and gardening. On social media, players don’t celebrate a victory-streak or new record time in completing a mission. Instead, they flaunt dressing up their characters in unique outfits and showing off their home designs.

Demographic Insights: Who plays Animal Crossing?

Our dive into the demographics of Animal Crossing players revealed some curious things.

Across the United States, we see that across all age groups, more women than men play the game. The game is most popular among millennials, followed by Gen Zers.

Interestingly, older women demonstrate an interest in the game as well.

Bar graph of age demographic

Simulating Serenity with Games

In an age where tending to house plants and baking sourdough are the hobbies du jour, it is perhaps fitting that the game world follows suit.

Through our short study on Animal Crossing, we see this emerging theme in the virtual experience world: The Desire for Everyday-ness.

In these times, the virtual entertainment sphere has been repurposed by people as a medium for escapism, but specifically a calm, measured one. People are immersing themselves in surreal fantasy worlds not for building extraordinary, exhilarating make-believe, but for composing up a virtual Normal.

Related reads for you: Making Machines Human: How Quilt.AI is Indexing Humanity at Scale

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