Animal Crossing can be a competitive game, if you want it to be

Animal Crossing can be a competitive game, if you want it to be

Image: Nintendo EPD/Nintendo

Animal Crossing: New Horizons is an idyllic life simulator. I spend my mornings — before work, in case my boss is listening — with a routine: plucking fruit from trees, extracting ore from rocks, and digging up fossils for my ol’ pal Blathers. After work, I meet my friends to sell my fruit and check out their stores, inspecting what goods they’ve got that I can pick up for my own island.

It’s not a competitive game. It’s designed to be like a vacation, an escape from life as we know it — something that’s especially helpful right now.

But as with anything, Animal Crossing: New Horizons is what you make it. For some, that means the game now has horror elements. For others, Animal Crossing: New Horizons is now an esport. People have been inventing new ways to play, using anything available in the game to pit player against player. And there certainly is a lot to use. You’ve got nets, fishing poles, axes (!), and shovels, not to mention the countless items designed to decorate the islands.

One popular method is using nets to bop other players and score a point. Players have even created “maps” for these net bopping tournaments to go down. Bonus points for players who choose to commentate over these matches, like YouTube creator Jacob “AlphaRad” Rabon. Now this is Animal Crossing: New Horizons esports.

You can also use nets to play tag, as shown by Twitter user CorporateCutei. From the video, it looks like a variation on tag — typically, it should be one person with a net (the one that’s it) chasing around everyone else. But here, it seems like everyone is chasing around the person with the shovel, and the first one to nab them wins.

Another fun game? Musical stumps. One player, using an instrument, plays a tune while other players circle stumps. When the music ends, players rush to the stumps to sit. Anyone without a seat is out. After reach round, remove a stump until there’s one player left standing. Er, sitting.

Another, more subtle, way to compete with your friends is to steal their fish. Once a friend has plopped down their line, do yours next to it. Clearly, whoever nabs the fish wins. Twitter user KumaTeddi posted a clip of this on Twitter — and the original fisher must have been very bitter. KumaTeddi stole the fish and caught a super rare one: the Coelacanth.

If being a sneaky fish stealer isn’t your idea of a fun game, you can always hold a regular fishing tournament in Animal Crossing: New Horizons. Whoever catches the most (or most impressive) fish before their rod breaks, wins.

You can really make anything a game, as evidenced by Twitter user ac_elveira’s clip of two players battling for the clothing shop’s dressing room. Right in front of the red curtains, two players are jockeying for the next turn — and it’s tan hat that prevails, despite white hat’s optimal positioning.

It reminds me of the fun game I like to play when visiting busy islands. As soon as I feel like everyone’s going to leave, I rush to the airport first. No one wants to be the last player off the island — waiting for everyone else to leave and enduring all those airplane cutscenes is absolutely infuriating.