Biden’s Animal Crossing Island Is Lovely But Meaningless

Biden’s Animal Crossing Island Is Lovely But Meaningless
Animal Crossing Biden was very hard to corral for this photo, which I assume can be said of the real Biden too. (Screenshot: Nintendo / Kotaku)
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Joe Biden’s presidential campaign built a propaganda island in Animal Crossing: New Horizons. It’s really lovely except when it’s not.

I’ve been dreading November ever since it became clear that Biden was going to be the Democratic nominee for this year’s presidential election. The party largely coalesced around the former vice president in March, banking on a heavy dose of Barack Obama nostalgia and oblique centrist politics meant to pull undecided voters and the mythical never-Trump Republicans leftward. This Animal Crossing stunt is the perfect encapsulation of an ephemeral campaign banking entirely on “not being the other guy” to win one of the most important elections in American history.

Animal Crossing players can visit Biden’s island by going to sleep in-game and dreaming up a world — now depicted, thanks to the wonders of technology, as an island in New Horizons — where his brand of aw-shucks political theatre is enough to defeat fascism. Apple trees line the avenues. Everyone is happy instead of being stuck in a constant cycle of uncertainty and fear. Neighbours can hold conversations without spending the next two weeks worrying about every cough. Biden himself can even be found strolling through the neighbourhood. If you talk to him, he screams, “No malarkey!” in your face before wandering off. Thanks to the restrictions of the game, that’s all he has to say, but it’s not too far off from Biden’s actual campaign style.

He said the thing! (Screenshot: Nintendo / Kotaku) He said the thing! (Screenshot: Nintendo / Kotaku)

Much like Biden’s presidential platform, there’s very little substance here. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a beautiful island, even by the high standards of the creative Animal Crossing community. The main draw is a complex, multi-room headquarters, but the island is full of neat little nooks and crannies to explore, some of which have nothing to do with Biden at all. The unpaid intern the campaign tapped to spend hours getting this ready obviously has some experience. I especially enjoy the way they dedicated a large chunk of the island to miniature houses and roadways, which make the explorable area seem as if it sits above a bustling metropolis.

But it’s all so hollow.

It’s difficult to get complicated concepts like planks of a political platform across with the relatively limited tools present in Animal Crossing, so Biden’s island is built around voting as the ultimate goal. There’s even a little area made up to look like a polling station, though obviously bereft of the jackboots Trump is enlisting to intimidate voters. A large graphic links to a website dedicated to helping folks with voter registration and finding locations to drop off ballots. It’s all very standardised and sanitised in a way that’s meant to be inoffensive but still irks me as someone who has to live in the real world, where the government does everything it can to make voting a horrendous, time-consuming experience, the antithesis of what’s depicted on this video-game tropical island.

I’m tired most days. Exhausted, really. The ostensible opposition party constantly drills into our heads that the government is on the verge of a fascist takedown with no plan to stop it other than cajoling us into voting. A leading voice in Trump’s impeachment ended hearings for his latest Supreme Court pick by praising and hugging one of his most loyal lapdogs. It’s a tug-of-war of instilling in us terrifying visions of the future, while still cozying up to the supposed cause of the coming apocalypse. In the event that Biden loses, the Democrats are setting up regular people to be the fall guys — usually those who demand more of their politicians than dancing with Ellen and holding a milkshake upside-down — rather than Biden himself, or the corrupt, failing party infrastructure that all but bought his nomination.

This is the Biden campaign’s “Pokémon Go to the polls” moment, an effort at engendering a parasocial relationship between Biden and the people he’s supposed to serve. No one is going to see that Biden has an island in Animal Crossing and think, “Gee whiz, I should really vote for this guy!” It’s built for folks who are already in the bag for Biden, a product of the stan culture that elevates him and his running mate Kamala Harris to celebrity status simply for having a D by their names. But it will still be applauded as a monumental attempt at reaching out to younger voters instead of being recognised for what it is: Another cynical way for those in power to ignore overwhelmingly popular demands for universal healthcare, cancelling student loans, and establishing environmental policies that could actually ensure there will be a livable planet for future generations.

I’m more than willing to concede that Trump is an existential danger; I only wish the Democrats had a real plan to deal with the system that put him in power before the next fascist arrives. A candidate that mocked a generation of impoverished millennials and told rich donors that nothing would fundamentally change for them if he’s president isn’t going to cut it, no matter how nice his Animal Crossing island is.

I’m really just so fucking tired.


  • Hah yeah, same. An interesting, yes I get the greater point being made but the fact that the dems have enough of a sense of humour to create something mundane like this immediately shows why they are thankfully not Trump and his cult, whose message is one of hate and diversion and division, thats it. They dont want the quiet life sadly while thankfully animal crossing is all about that.

    • “if you’re about to post something that’s going to drag people down, isn’t fostering a more civil, smarter conversation, or you’re just filling the thread up with crap, we’re not having it.

      You’re smart enough to know where the lines are. Make things better, not worse.”

      Should probably take this down also then, hey

  • If the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result then America is a political crazy house.

  • To all involved: fucking knock it off.

    We had a discussion a while back about everyone taking conversations forward and contributing to a good, thoughtful environment we can all be proud of. The sewage I just went through is the opposite of that.

    I’m supposed to be on leave, dammit. So I’ll repeat the rule that will be enforced much more strictly: if you’re about to post something that’s going to drag people down, isn’t fostering a more civil, smarter conversation, or you’re just filling the thread up with crap, we’re not having it.

    You’re smart enough to know where the lines are. Make things better, not worse.

  • Dems have done nothing but pander to minorities, especially POC, while actively doing nothing for them. Have a look at the cities with the largest disparities in wealth between whites and blacks, have a look at the most dangerous states to live in, while being black, homelessness, poverty, etc etc. All Democrat run cities, and have been for decades.

    Democrats created the KKK, created Jim Crowe, opposed integration (Joe Biden was a big proponent of that, if you recall), yet have somehow, with the help of dominating all forms of media, blamed those things on Republicans. They had a black president for 8 years, with at the very least, 4 of those years with a majority senate… And did absolutely nothing for the black community.

    As for your second last paragraph. You do realise that Trump has zero power over telling states how to run? If a state didn’t lockdown, that’s on the governor, not Trump for him to do that, he’d have to institute martial law. Did you forget that governor Cuoma released a whole bunch of infected elderly BACK into aged care, which lead to the very significant increases in infection and deaths? That’s on him, not Trump. “Actively too stupid to heed the medical advice and purposely risking thousands of lives in mass gatherings”. Interesting how mass gatherings are perfectly fine when they are tearing down statues and burning buildings… But if you want to protest the lockdowns… All of a sudden they are bad? Does covid not spread at BLM riots? How stupid are you?

    “Direct violence linked to it” just like with BLM, just like Antifa, etc.

    You’d happily support the Brown coats also, I’d suspect.

    • “Democrats created the KKK, created Jim Crowe”
      Please, please, and with all respect, please stop repeating this wholly misleading statement. It’s true in terms of name ONLY. It utterly ignores the fact that in the early 1900s, the Democratic and Republican parties effectively switched ideologies, and that it is the Republican party of today that more closely represents the Democratic party of that era, and vice versa.

      I’ve seen this statement repeated many times, but it simply doesn’t hold water as an argument. It’s like saying all Germans are warmongers today because they started WWII, or that all Japanese today are barbarians because of their treatment of POWs in the same war. If you think those are ridiculous statements, then I would ask that you consider blaming Democrats (or even Republicans) today for KKK or Jim Crow laws as equally ridiculous.

      Please, consider history and context before making blanket statements.

      • “The Democratic and Republican parties effectively switched ideologies.”

        Sorry.. where does it say Democrats became “not racist”. Even in the article you link, which I assume you didn’t even bother to actually read (which I have read multiple times, and used to debunk your very own claim), it states that the “ideological switch” was purely a big government/small government switch. The Dems started moving towards big government, which was a Republican platform, in the hopes of gaining the Western voters (which began in the early 1900’s). Republicans didn’t “switch” to a small government platform until the 1930’s when they, largely, opposed the New Deal. That’s it.. that’s the party switch.

        Just because you decide to change to a “big government” platform, it doesn’t magically change you into a “non-racist”. And, even according to the article you linked, it wasn’t because the actually cared about the people… They wanted the votes and power.

        Hell, even in the 60’s more Republicans voted in favour than Democrats in favour for the Civil Rights act (~80% opposed to ~60%) and the Voting Rights act (which the Southern Democrats tried to filibuster).

        But then, if you want to follow along the lines of a lot modern lefties and go with the “between the 40’s and 60’s the Democrats that opposed civil rights left and joined the Republicans blah blah blah”.

        “The transition into today’s Democratic Party was cemented in 1948, when Truman introduced a pro-civil rights platform and many Democrats walked out, forming the Dixie-crats. Fast forward to the 1960’s when Johnson passes the Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act. Anti civil rights followers left the Democratic Party in droves, joined the Dixiecrats and most re-joined the Democrats but one joined the Republican Party Senator Storm Thurmond”

        All this information is easy to find and readily available for you to read. I cbb linking articles and such, because quite frankly, you’ve shown that you don’t even read the ones you, yourself, link.

        Hell… You don’t even read comments properly… Alex said to stop. I didn’t see it as I was typing my comment at the time and asked him to delete it and apologised. And here you are.

          • My initial post was requesting that you stop ignoring context and actually pay attention to the bigger picture. Instead, you’re quote-mining Biden.

            Please, just use some common sense and pay attention to the actions of the people and parties involved, and look at their policies and policy actions. That’s all I’m asking. That’s all I ask of people for ANY political discussion. Yet slogans and falsehoods dominate the landscape, and as this article says “I’m really just so fucking tired” of it.

        • I’m sorry, but If you read the article properly, you would have noted that it WASN’T just big government vs small government, it was socially progressive vs conservative. And an examination of the two party’s policies and individuals today demonstrates that this is truly the case, and trying to still blame Democrats for the KKK is a spurious claim.

          You’ll also note Alex asked people to be polite and constructive. Which *I* was, politely asking you to stop pushing an incorrect and ridiculous argument, and to which you responded with nothing but vitriol. But by all means, continue to tell me how *I* can’t read properly. It only proves my point.

          Please, for your own sake, try to be civil in the future. I’ll even accept your apology in advance. Have a good day.

          • Lol.

            Sure thing Bucko *snaps finger*

            That’s why a Democrat Presidential nominee can say things such as “you ain’t black if you don’t vote for me” or, “Unlike the African American community, with notable exceptions, the Latino community is an incredibly diverse community with incredibly diverse attitudes about different things” and still be seen as “anti-racist” and “pro-black”. And that was just this year

            That’s why a lot of the most segregated cities to live in are Democrat run cities (some for decades). For instance. And yet they still somehow manage to get re-elected, by the black community. Almost seems like a trauma bond to those looking on from the outside….

            But hey.

  • As an Australian, when I see my friends talk about coronavirus being the collapse of our civilisation etc, I groan at how melodramatic they are being. Which is the same response I have to articles like this, but I have to remember that I’m lucky enough to live in an area that has only ever had a handful of active cases. I’m sure if I lived in America the existential crisis might seem more appropriate. Very thankful that I do not.

  • This is one of those examples where simply turning comments off would have been a better outcome for literally everyone.

  • I mean no offense here, but what is the actual point of this article? It seems like a meandering vaguely political rant, taking potshots at Biden and bemoaning the process that got him the nomination as being corrupt, taking less vehement potshots at Trump. The animal crossing tie-in seems more like a vehicle to get a jaded, political editorial as an article than anything else.

    To demand the comments be constructive and not drag people down. The entire article felt like it was dragging me down. Sorry to be a downer, but I just don’t feel like the article itself contributed anything interesting or engaging except for being a jaded complaint about politics.

    • Its not even a very well informed opinion.

      If you genuinely care to learn something – watch the Biden Townhall and listen to Obama interview on Pod Save America. Biden has plenty to offer, he’s just not going to be a popstar about it, its not his style. The young audience want fireworks and revolution. Don’t let the great get in the way of the good.

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