Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp and the feud that keeps on running

Valentine's Day massacre.

My former best friend is standing right next to me. We haven't spoken in more than eight months. Well over a decade of friendship was destroyed by one careless letter. He's here now because he wants something. He always wants something. This time he's demanding a single coconut.

If this were an older Animal Crossing game I would equip my butterfly net and accidentally-on-purpose bonk him on the head until he lost his temper. Perhaps if I could engage in some antisocial activity to convey my shock and sadness, or at least get it out of my system, we would have made up by now. But Pocket Camp, with its laser focus on furniture collection, leaf tickets, and making Gulliver go wrong, is bereft of the usual Animal Crossing expressions of vengeance.

I mean, as well as being unable to "accidentally" bonk Octavian on his irritating head, I am not able to plant hundreds of trees outside his home, hoping to trap him in an impromptu forest. I cannot shun him until he leaves town. There are no custom floor tiles which I can redesign to say "GO AWAY" and then use them to pave a pathway to his front door. And, without a letter-writing facility, I can't even send rude-but-perfectly-spelled missives. The latter is a particular sore point given Octavian's own letter - a VALENTINE if you can believe it - is what started this argument in the first place.

Here's what happened:

1_Every_word

In February Animal Crossing Pocket Camp gave each player one piece of best friend candy with the instruction to give it to our favourite villager. I picked my bestie Octavian. Of course I did! I love Octavian and his frowny pink face! Octavian responded with a letter.

"To Pip," wrote Octavian.

To? Why not "Dear Pip", Octavian?

"My... friend," he continued.

Oh wow. That's a brutal ellipsis. All these years and you can barely choke out the word "friend"?

"I'm still not sure why you've decided to force your friendship on me," he said.

YOU LITERALLY MOVED INTO MY TOWN AND GOT ME TO DO THINGS FOR YOU!

"But..." he continued.

...But? ...But! He's going to remember the good times! Maybe all the midnight chats we've had, or the fish I've caught for him, or the flying saucer I built him which actually hovers!

"It hasn't been all bad."

You're kidding. Is this negging? Am I being negged by a cartoon octopus?

"Thanks for a few good memories."

That's it? After everything we've been through? Well, you know what, Octavian? You're a toxic friend.

Do you know what other people got told by their best friends on Animal Crossing Valentine's? They got "You are the sun to my darkness, the rain to my drought, the coming of spring to my winter". They got "Here's to spending many more wonderful days together". They got "Every day we spend together is more fun than the last!" And this is why I have spent the best part of a year finding little ways to circumvent Pocket Camp's aggressive niceness and express my outrage towards this toxic former bestie.

The most obvious outlet for this grudge is refusing to invite Octavian to my campsite (the game's main hub of activity). He is also not allowed in the cabin (the smaller gathering point). Well. His body isn't allowed. Sometimes I display his little portrait. I was considering trying to dump the portrait by giving it to the scatterbrained seagull, Gulliver for him to sell on one of his voyages but a) Gulliver's rework means Gulliver is not able to trade objects sensibly for the time being, and b) it felt too final. I mean, I'm ANGRY but I like to entertain the possibility of a reunion (after a suitable amount of grovelling on bended tentacle from him). Oh. Also c) having the portrait means I can surround it with flowers and sombre decor and pretend to hold an Octavian memorial service in the hopes that he will hear about it and get sad.

But the act of pettiness I am most entertained by plays out in the item requests menu. Octavian is hanging out in the tropical island area. I can't stop him. The game won't let me. I can see that he wants a coconut. I can't stop him from doing that either. The coconuts grow on a tree in the tropical island area, mere feet from where he and I are standing. I could, in theory, go and pick one up and pass it along to him, being the bigger person and gaining a smattering of craft resources for my trouble.

DEAD_TO_ME

I am not the bigger person.

What I do is grab a coconut and stand with my back to Octavian. I open up the game map and call on Pete the pelican postal worker. Pete is available to deliver requested items to villagers so you don't have to trudge to their actual location if you want to fulfill their whims. I stand as close to Octavian as the game will allow and then summon the pelican to go out of his way to deliver this coconut to Octavian instead of handing it over.

Every time I do this I am DELIGHTED by how passive aggressive it is. It's the Pocket Camp equivalent of sitting at the table with a sibling you're currently not speaking to and saying loudly to the other diners "CAN YOU ASK OCTAVIAN IF HE WANTS THIS COCONUT?"

I've wondered about ending the feud just to make life a bit simpler but, in a game built around routine, this drip drip drip of vengeance has become part of the fabric of Pocket Camp for me. Just as I collect daily login bonuses I look for ways to mildly inconvenience Octavian. And so it must continue for the rest of time. Or until Pocket Camp introduces a special "Octopus Grovelling to Those Who Have Been Wronged By Said Octopus" event.

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Philippa Warr

Philippa Warr

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