Nintendo’s new “social simulator”, out in June, makes you mayor of a small virtual town. It’s a nicer and easier place to live than “New York City”. Here are some things that are totally within reach in the game that you will never accomplish in New York.
1. Put a down payment on a house.
In New Leaf, a down payment on a house is 10,000 bells. After this, you are required to pay back a 40,000 bell, interest free loan. That makes 50,000 bells for a house.
The average price for a home sale in Manhattan in 2012 was 1.37 million dollars. To afford this without Saudi oil money, you would have to navigate the gauntlet of predatory lending that girds the American real estate market.
2. Go to the beach.
The beach in New Leaf is literally steps from your front door. It’s a beautiful place to go fishing or collect shells.
Hurricane Sandy basically swept away Fort Tilden, everyone’s favorite public city beach. Better-off New Yorkers flee to the Hamptons and points north, but you can barely affford your 1.37 million dollar apartment, remember?
3. Enjoy nature.
Greenery is everywhere in New Leaf. Lush trees rain plump fruit. The rich earth, teeming with pristine fossils, sends up flowers from its loamy embrace.
Let me describe the nearest “park” to me in New York. The home of countless winos and bag people, this “park” contains approximately 2 trees, 0 grass, and a floor of sheet concrete. In its single fountain, parents permit the urination of their toddlers.
New Leaf is basically a vintage lovers’ dream. Just by collecting the bric a brac you find around town in five minutes, you can make thousands of bells at the resale shop.
Have you ever tried to resell anything in New York? You might get five bucks in store credit. More likely: Unsmiling saleswomen treat your treasures as garbage and refuse to even touch them, leaving you emotionally and financially devastated.
5. See adorable animals every day.
Everyone in your village, except for you, is an adorable anthropomorphic animal. They will waddle adorably up to you, speak in adorable jibberish to you, and leave you adorably.
Here are the animals you run into New York on a daily basis: pigeons, festering with disease; squirrels, brimming with rabies; bed bugs, dripping with blood; silverfish, crawling with dread; cockroaches, gleaming with filth.
6. Contribute to cultural life.
The curator of the museum in your town actively encourages you to donate your precious findings, and if you choose to do so, will prominently display them.
World-class artists in New York labor in penury for decades, selling their art on the street to philistines, while their least talented and most self-promoting “peers” make millions. If they receive any recognition at all, it is long after their death.
7. Form lasting personal connections.
The residents of your town in New Leaf actively want to be your friend. They will invite you into their homes, send you gifts and letters, ask for advice about their problems, even let you take a nap in their beds. You will feel loved.
The life of the average New Yorker is crushingly lonely and devoid of meaning. Our most popular way of meeting people is through an online dating portal that rewards rampant narcissism and deceit. We eat alone; we sleep alone; we are alone.
Joe Bernstein is a senior tech reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York. Bernstein reports on and writes about the gaming industry and web culture.
Contact Joseph Bernstein at firstname.lastname@example.org