“When [the campaign] approached me, ‘Hey, we’re doing this Animal Crossing thing, would you like to debut it,’ I thought, 'Aw man I hope this island isn’t terrible,” said KindaFunny host and former IGN journalist Greg Miller. “This island is way better than my island.”
Even though “Animal Crossing” released during the early days of the pandemic, the game has remained one of the year’s best sellers. Taking lessons from the last several months of “Animal Crossing” creators, Biden’s island architect makes expert use of custom decals with unique street markings, lawn signs and even a photo of young Biden in his “office,” which he shares alongside vice president nominee Kamala D. Harris.
The stream is a departure for Miller, who has admittedly not been politically active until this year, when he decided to just come out and support Biden and Harris. Gary Whitta, the “Star Wars” screenwriter who’s achieved viral fame for his “Animal Crossing” and “Fall Guys” talk shows on Twitch, is also outspoken against President Trump, and joined Miller for the Biden island tour.
“This will be the first promotional island I’ve ever been to,” said Whitta, who doesn’t accept sponsorships for his own show, “Animal Talking.” Whitta invited The Washington Post on a tour of his own island, which serves as the show’s set, earlier this year. “A lot of them come off as cynical or money grabby.”
A few surprisingly pro features of Biden’s “Animal Crossing” island:
- The most striking aspect to any longtime “Animal Crossing” player was the train set room in the basement, which featured different colored versions of several different train models. This meant the designer likely utilized the “time travel” exploit to force the game to sell them multiple versions of the same train. This kind of work could last hours, if not days. (Time travel is frowned upon by some members of the game’s community as a type of exploit, though the developers have told The Post that they don’t view the practice as cheating). “Sorry, I can’t vote for an Animal Crossing time traveler,” said one chat message in KindaFunny’s Twitch stream. “Legalize time traveling,” said another user, snarkypuppers. About 3,600 people watched the stream, which ended with a “Dream” code for other players to access Biden’s island.
- They also made clever use of depth-of-field perspective to recreate the White House and its Rose Garden, using the Museum and some clever architecture in the distance to make it appear like the real thing.
- “Oh my God they have Raymond,” exclaimed Whitta. “He goes for real money on the ‘Animal Crossing’ dark web.” Indeed, the island had unique villagers, including Raymond, a smug cat who is a sought-after neighbor for players. The campaign also made sure to crowd the island with dog villagers, as well as the game’s bald eagle, Apollo. Curating your villagers to be exactly who you want them to be can take some players days or weeks.
An avatar representing Biden, complete with aviator shades, greets players by simply demanding “No malarkey.” The island also featured voting booths with a big promotional sign leading players to the Democratic National Committee’s voting registration site. Other neat touches included Harris’s sneaker collection (she’s a huge Converse fan) and a racing car bed for Biden, who often tinkers with classic cars.
KindaFunny’s chat may have seemed open to Miller’s pivot to talking more politics, and most were very supportive of Biden. A number of users said they had already voted. But the chat moderators also seemed to be pretty strict during the island tour. Even sarcastic, innocuous statements were being removed, including one message that simply stated, “Jeb Bush 2020.”
After the tour, Miller and Whitta chatted about why they’re supporting Biden. This moment does crystallize how many influencers in the gaming space are being more outspoken about electoral politics than ever before, even since 2016. Miller, who’s pivoted his career from journalism to influencer entertainment, pleaded with his fans to vote for Biden as a personal favor to him.
“It’s literally night and day,” Miller said, speaking about the Trump and Biden televised town halls that aired Thursday night. “I just want to be able to respect the president again. I just want to look to the office and understand that there’s an actual adult in there.”