Is time travelling cheating, or a necessity for some players?

12:00, 27 May 2020

Time travelling in Animal Crossing: New Horizons (or TT in ACNH) is a hot topic. Whether you’re for or against time travelling (and some think its akin to cheating) it’s most definitely frowned upon in the community.

For a game meant to be all about relaxing, some players competitive nature takes over this wholesome pursuit, and they time travel (changing the clock on their Nintendo Switch) to speed up building projects, get season-specific items, or quickly chop and change their villager roster. ACNH has no clear “goal”, although it does have “missions” to complete to earn Nook Miles, really, a player could trot around their island endlessly with no pressure to complete anything at all, if that was their choice.

Let’s rewind (but not time travel...) ok, having a 5-star rated island is technically a “goal” of the game, as is unlocking certain types of island customisation such as terraforming (this happens when you reach a 3-star rating) but again this doesn’t mean you are “losing” if you don’t complete it.

ACNH is a stress-reducing game, a deserted island getaway (where fair enough, it is technically your job to do everything… ) but some players just don’t have the time to commit to waiting around, whether that is due to a crazy work schedule or hectic home life, and time travelling is the perfect tool to use.

ACNH operates in real-time, and the date and time you set on your Nintendo Switch device is the date and time the game will use to plan building projects etc, so speeding up your progress using this system can be invaluable to some players.

As well as the “progression isn’t the point of the game” argument we see online a lot, time travelling can actually severely mess up your island, and your game. Skipping ahead more than a few days will leave you with an infestation of weeds, and unhappy villagers who think you have ignored them and may have moved out without your knowledge.

The longevity of a game where this exploit can be used is also at risk. Seasonal events and items are meant to be enjoyed at specific times, so fast-forwarding to those times is only taking away that joy.

However, there is no room for hate in Animal Crossing, Isabelle simply wouldn’t allow it. But hate from both sides is common, with players being guilt-tripped or trolled for saying they are for or against time travelling.

r/AnimalCrossing has several ongoing discussions about why their fellow players have the desire to TT, with one post saying that waiting for things to happen on your island is more “fulfilling”.

Why do/don’t you time travel? from r/AnimalCrossing

The comments go on to suggest that the game “teaches you patience”, but another states “life is too busy for me not to time travel fairly often”.

There is an argument that all games are inherently “competitive”, therefore advancing or progressing at an accelerated rate are tools that can and should be utilised to get ahead. On the flip side, the developer’s creative vision itself is at risk of being disrespected by these player decisions, but then again, they knowingly made TT possible.

 The main takeaway in discussing time travelling in ACNH is this; the game is yours to play how you wish. Whether or not you TT, or you wait patiently, or if you simply don’t have the time to wait 24 hours for a bridge to be built, hate has no place in the ACNH community, and Isabelle would be very disappointed in those who spread it.


Images via Nintendo

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