Villagers in Animal Crossing: New Horizons are beginning to question their idyllic surroundings. The game offers players the chance to create and perfect their own private island, with up to 10 animal neighbors at a time. Fruit spawns on trees every few days, flowers bloom, there’s always music playing and Tom Nook and his kids buy garbage for Bells so players can acquire furniture, clothing and customization for their homes.
It’s a dream sim — but several players are reporting that their villagers have figured out they’re all just living inside the game.
When players talk to their villagers, conversations range from small talk about the weather to questions about what kinds of comics, books or movies players prefer. Sometimes, they offer gifts or ask for advice. However, according to social media, a new conversation that starts in a surprising way has cropped up for several players. The villager says, “They say the island is just a game. And everything we say? Or do? It’s just to amuse somebody else!”
This comment is already a disturbing break from the usual banter, especially since it’s so meta. The idea that villagers know they are in a game harkens back to the age-old idea that someone is always watching and everyone is a puppet on a string, but it’s still a bizarre break from usual, everyday gameplay in New Horizons.
As the conversation continues, it gets increasingly specific. When players click through the chat boxes, the villager goes on, “Have ya ever thought fruit grows way too fast? And ain’t it weird that trees all have three kinds of wood? And have ya ever noticed there’s pretty music everywhere? It’s great, but it’s weird…”
Then, they get to the real heart of the matter: “And does Tom Nook make ANY kind of sense to you?! ‘Yeah, I’ll buy your seashells so you can give me back my own money to pay off a house I’m selling to you!’ It’s all so obvious! Our lives are fake! We all shoulda saw it a loooong time ago! A long old time ago…”
Clearly, Animal Crossing: New Horizons villagers are becoming self-aware — or perhaps they’ve always been that way. After they make their observations about how the game functions, they insist they’re just joking, then blame the thoughts on having “real weird dreams” after eating too many bags of chips before bed. The deliberate, casual tone of the redirect suggests a gentle nudge from Nintendo for players to remember not to take the game so seriously.
Perhaps it’s also a reminder that the villagers are smarter than players may realize — not to mention incredibly observant. They see players get stung by wasps, know when they’ve buried bags of Bells and even know when players are racking up Nook Miles or visiting lots of mystery islands. Plus, it’s already been reported that when players hit villagers with their nets, annoy them or otherwise treat them poorly in an effort to make them leave an island, these actions can sometimes backfire and lead to a different villager asking to leave.
Players may have ultimate decision-making power on their private islands, but their villagers have awareness, too. Basically: Play nice.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons villagers are having meta conversations with players about the nature of the game.