“My pockets are full”: The Emotional and Mechanical Function of Goodbyes in Animal Crossing
The Importance of Goodbyes in Animal Crossing through the Affordance of Inventory Space and Collecting
Keywords:Animal Crossing; affordances; inventory space; collecting; goodbyes; parasocial relationships
This article focuses on goodbyes within the Animal Crossing series, describing them as an important but often overlooked mechanic afforded by the player’s inventory space. Beginning with defining the general mechanics within the series, this article highlights the value of inventory space and argues that it affords the central mechanic of collecting to emerge. As inventory space is not infinite, collecting is accompanied by the necessary mechanic of goodbyes. In order to make more room to collect players will be faced with choices of departing from both items and villagers, the game’s NPCs (Non-Playable Characters), emphasizing goodbyes’ mechanical and emotional function within this virtual world. While the goodbyes associated with NPC villagers function as emotionally affective examples of goodbyes, they often overshadow the smaller and more frequent goodbyes that emerge in the moment to moment interactions with inanimate objects. These smaller goodbyes which generate minor affections may go unnoticed but propel the game forward and allow for the collecting gameplay to take shape. Goodbyes exist on a scale of affective and mechanical functionality that showcases their diverse structure. It is the goodbyes that we do not notice that most significantly propel Animal Crossing forward and that are always in conversation with the spatial affordances and collecting mechanics of the game.