A Gold Rush

Animal Crossing has a feature called the Stalk Market. You buy turnips once a week then hedge your bets on making a return. The buy price changes every day and you have seven days to sell your turnips to try and make a profit. It's the least Animal Crossing feature of Animal Crossing. It is literally gambling, and there's no time that's more apparent than when you win big.

I am fortunate to be a part of Hi-Score Club, which is a group of people playing games together; competing and working together where appropriate. Loads of us are playing New Horizons. We coordinated a 90 Bell buy on Sunday and I bought 5,900 turnips. I'd planned to sell 50% at a break-even price then hold out for something big for my remaining balance. I even built a calculator to help when we share our turnip prices every day.

Then lunchtime hit today. I've been tangled in something that's twisting my brain all day, and I was looking forward to a break to check my turnip prices and see if anyone's shops were open. There's a dearth of tables in this game, and I'm looking for a shower cubicle.

I checked my prices and they were 450 Bells each. That is a 5x return on investment for roughly 2,600,000 Bells, and over 2,000,000 Bells profit. I'm starting to see why people do this as their job.

This afternoon, my island—The Moon—received over 40 visitors, selling turnips to the presumably-bewildered Nook children. The biggest winner walked away with over 4,000,000 Bells. It was chaos, but we got through it. People brought gifts. I have many new hats.

For many, the Stalk Market is not in the spirit of the game. Animal Crossing is many things to many people, and shortening the financial gain grind detracts from the purpose of the game, but for me it represents something different; the notion that luck has nothing to do with success. Stay with me here.

In the world (the real one, not the good one), you can work as hard as you want, and you should. You can plan and save and invest and work and you can get chewed up and spit out by every system you come into contact with, through sheer bad luck.

In Animal Crossing, the systems are all defeatable. Everything has an exploitable vulnerability. Tarantulas aren't the most expensive creature to sell, but they spawn predictably so they're easy to farm. The Stalk Market is clearly intended to be a single player experience, but the game lets you buy and sell on any island. If you don't club together with friends and share your prices, you aren't going to have success as frequently as if you do.

And this is what I mean. The real world doesn't reward you for noticing flaws; it makes a villain of you. What better escapism than working with your friends to make huge profits for yourselves, and succeeding? I have had a lovely day watching people rush into my island to get rich whilst I bang my head against a problem in the real world.

Is this one of those times where I've read too much into this?

Wishing on a star last night
Fishing from my new bridge
Celebrating opening a new staircase
Pockets weighed down with newfound riches
Paying off my mortgage
Waiting for planes with visitors. Arriving at, and leaving islands, could be improved.
Singing with my islanders when the hype dies down. Our economy is thriving.