Animal Crossing: New Horizons is a rather silly game. Hitting trees three times magically produces woodblocks; fruit on the island grows on a rigid three-day growth structure and money will grow-on-trees if you plant bells in the correct spots. All of these things aside you can pull at the strings of the game and start revealing interesting discussions points. The games colonisation themes, for example, is one topic I don’t feel I could speak about but have been reading about ever since I listened to this podcast from Uppercut. What I do want to talk about is how the games turning mild-mannered island residents into capitalist monsters.
Tom Nook is obviously where everyone likes to point their fingers. How dare he ask for such high prices to renovate my home? How dare he charge me 50,000 bells just to relocate an island resident home. This was the internet’s narrative for the games first couple weeks: damn you Tom Nook – plain and simple, a common enemy.
However, as more players sunk hours into the game and others, time-travelled their way quickly through certain objectives, we all reached a point in the last couple of week’s where EVERYONE is ‘playing the stalk market’ and it’s turning them into monsters.
The stalk market in Animal Crossing: New Horizons involves players purchasing turnips every Sunday before noon and then having until the following Saturday evening to sell them for a profit. If you don’t sell them by then, they’ll rot.
Your local island store offers two prices a day. Once in the morning and then again in the evening. If you could only access your island then the market would involve players simply having to watch the prices and pick a point where they think its time to sell. However, in Animal Crossing: New Horizons you can travel via sea-plane to visit any other island around the world that’s opening their gates for visitors and handing out the coordinates (a Dodo Code) online. Once you arrive you’re free to sell your turnips inside their stores.
Amongst friends, this means Facebook group chats for solely keeping each other updated on your islands price and heading to a friends island who gets the highest price. Online amongst randoms this has lead to something else.
This has spawned an online black market in Animal Crossing: New Horizons that seemed to start with good intentions and has now been overshadowed with greed as players seek more and more rising admission prices before allowing players to come to sell their turnips on their island.
At first players on the website seemed to be offering, for the most part, free entry and asked for donations of bells if people felt like it. Other players would simply open their island, build a fence between the airport and their shop (so players couldn’t run-a-muck) and leave their game on for hours as visitors came and went in a hopefully orderly fashion.
This is what the turnip black market looks like now on the website turnip.exchange.
There are still the odd ques that simply state they’d like a tip if possible, or simply ask for nothing but for everyone to be quick about their business. But these greedy ques are usually all you’ll find in anything for an island selling turnips for 300+ per turnip.
I’ve done one trip to an island via the website. The player wasn’t asking for anything but simply said tips would be nice. I dropped 10% of what I made selling my turnips in their shop because I felt like that was a good-enough tip.
There’s no downside to offering others your shop either. There’s an infinite amount of bells to be given (again, this is a silly game.) All it requires is you leaving your game on for a certain amount of time and this is what players are holding onto as they excuse their ridiculous entry costs.
In a real-world where people are driving to their local stores and buying up all medical supplies, face masks, hand sanitiser and food in the face of the COVID-19 epidemic, the Animal Crossing stalk market doesn’t offer a glimpse of hope for people’s willingness to help their fellow person. Greed is a corrupting element in and outside of the many islands of the Animal Crossing world.
It’s a free market when it’s come to how you choose to play Animal Crossing: New Horizons stalk market. Just remember that the economy is driven by each other. If you support those asking for high entry costs and ridiculous and hard to find items you’re saying it’s a market you’re okay with. As such, is our real world.