Did you know that Animal Crossing is beloved by shit tons of queer people? Yep! It has gotten really chill about gender, your neighbors will refer to you and other villagers using neutral pronouns, and, of course, you will find the scruffy sneaker-beanie outfit of your dreams along with the most femme looks you’ve ever dreamed up (that is, if you have enough Nook Miles to land the extra hairstyles).
I’ve been playing Animal Crossing since I discovered it in a Blockbuster when I was a pre-teen. I’ve gone through the original Gamecube game, transitioned on over to the Nintendo DS, hopped onto the Wii for Animal Crossing: City Folk, and made my way over to the Nintendo Switch (yes, I bought it just to play AC) for New Horizons in March. Like lots of other quarantined folks, I’m beginning to feel a little antsy for the outdoors. I typically don’t go many places, but feeling like I can’t, or shouldn’t, has me craving sand and grass and sunshine. One little, seemingly insignificant thing I’m missing? Dates.
Sweetly enough, it’s possible to have a shocking number of cute ass dates on Animal Crossing. I’m lucky to be quarantined with my girlfriend, but we’re running low on date opportunities. How many times can we sit in this room, or that one, and look at this wall, or this one, before it feels stagnant? A pillow fort or dinner in bed is only cute and fun a few times before you’re like, wow, remember when we could go to art museums and flirt at the plant store? So, date idea: I’ve been playing ACNH for almost twenty years, my girlfriend is new at it, and we’ve started playing together. It’s become something that makes me feel both deeply seen and heard and adored to have someone take me seriously when I’m like, “Hey, I mailed you a gift!” on a video game and she’s actually excited to open her mail and see what I bought her with my bells that I should, for sure, be giving to Tom Nook to pay off this home loan. Beyond precious letters, New Horizons has so many opportunities to explore (indoors, and outdoors! Remember that?) and I’m here for the queers making it the ~hottest date spot~ around.
Where to go on dates on your ACNH island
We’ve got a museum. And have you been in that museum? We’re talking levels, people. Nothing says first love like sitting next to each other, sweet and nervous, on a bench by a tank full of cute little fish. And if you’re feeling bold, you can turn your characters little bodies together and put their little toes together. And they move! In tandem! Tandem toes! Much smoother than anything many of us can finagle in real life.
We’ve got a beach. Do you not miss the beach? Change that clock to sunset (or don’t if you think time jumping is “cheating,” but like… come on. If you were ever going to cheat, it would be now, right?) and meet someone cute at the sand. Throw down a lighthouse with those Nook miles. Plop on some matching beach towels.
All of the opportunities for fires! We all look cuter in the light of a fire. Turn up your volume and listen to that little crackle. Ooh. Steamy. Maybe set up a campfire. Look in each other’s eyes. It’s on.
How to ask someone on a ACNH date
Established partners can definitely find new ways to find love on ACNH. It offers a new space to connect, and to build new ways to communicate. “We call it “frolicking,’” explains Miranda Manier, 22, a queer student studying television in Chicago who goes on ACNH dates with her transmasc partner; they’re separated by quarantine. “One of us will ask if the other wants to ‘frolic’ and then I’ll usually go to his island, because he time skips so his is much prettier haha.”
She continues, saying, “When we first see each other, and whenever we get excited, we run in circles around each other, and if it’s raining we’ll stop every so often to twirl our umbrellas at each other as a little flourish, like our own private ‘I love you” reaction.”
In case you doubted the magic of the New Horizons museum, Manier agrees that it’s highkey the best date spot the game offers. “We go to the museum a lot,” Manier says, “because there’s always new stuff and fun places to sit. We like to sit on benches and face each other so we can watch little us play footsie. We also recently started playing ‘tag,’ where we’ll hit each other with our nets and then go run off and try to outrun each other.”
Raven, 29, a queer person based in Virginia, also plays games with their girlfriend on ACNH. “Since my girlfriend and I share an island, we don’t do very much in-game flirting,” she said. “If we do, we usually fish together and hit each other with our nets lol.” So how do you initiate such a thing? “There’s no need to be anxious about it! If ACNH is your thing,” Raven says. “Even your noob partner will be able to appreciate the cuteness even if they don’t understand the game.”
How to flirt with a stranger on ACNH, because yes, it’s a thing
If you’re single or looking for a new person to flirt with, you might also find ACNH to be a really good dating opp??? I know in my heart that Isabelle, resident (lowkey, unofficial, but definite) cottagecore lesbian, would be proud. Aubrey Casazza, 26, a lesbian illustrator based in Ohio, has been playing since the Gamecube era in 2002. Casazza has found New Horizons surprisingly helpful for something typically reserved for gay coffee shops and our IG DMs: flirting. “Okay, so this girl slid in my DMs” she told me. “I wasn’t expecting it to turn flirty, so I told her for now that I wanted to be friends, but in general, I can still be a little bit of a flirt, especially in quarantine.”
They visited each other’s islands, and it was time. “Her island was in golden hour. She had so many flowers… the definition of lesbian cottage core. We were just chatting in the field and she used the ‘shy’ emote, which is essentially blushing. I used the ‘bashful’ emote. Honestly? It felt nice. When I complimented the flowers, she offered to give me her extra roses.”
Dating on ACNH might seem silly, especially with everything going on, but people are finding it to be a really great way to avoid that feeling of isolation and loneliness. “It really really helps this distance,” Manier told me. “Even if it’s not the same as actually being in the same room as each other, it’s so nice to dress up for each other and give each other presents and feel some kind of real time connection. The other night I actually started crying, because it made me really emotional to see ‘us’ together, being close and spending quality time, even if we can’t actually do that face to face.”
And trust me, there’s interest in random virtual dates. When I tweeted out the call for sources for this piece, Katie Speller, a friend and editor, responded, “can i reply to this so a cute girl will ask me on an animal crossing date?? bc i’d love to show off my house full of bugs.” So, make moves, people. There’s interest.
Where are you going on ACNH dates? Did you make a little farmer’s market on your island so you can invite over your crushes and impress them with your DIY abilities? Help us flirt from home.