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November 19, 2007 1:17 AM   Subscribe

A sad story about Animal Crossing and a dying mother.

Single link YTMND, via Digg, I know. You're going to cry anyway. I apologize in advance. Call your Mom and tell her you love her.
posted by empath (69 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

 
I just came here to post this. That made me cry.
posted by graventy at 1:20 AM on November 19, 2007


Here it is as a regular comic.
posted by interrobang at 1:25 AM on November 19, 2007 [4 favorites]


Damn near posted this myself. Touching, and I can't help but be moved by the cross-generational game playing.

I've a friend/ex that fell deep into that damnable game - but I still do fondly remember curling up next to her with a book whilst she whiled away at it.

I think I enjoyed being around her playing that game more than most of the others. It seemed to elicit the least amount of cursing and frustration.
posted by loquacious at 1:29 AM on November 19, 2007


This story is actually quite old. I remember reading it at least three years ago. Hadn't seen it done in comic form though.

And it always brings tears to my eyes since my mom has MS and loves video games.
posted by cmgonzalez at 1:35 AM on November 19, 2007


Thing is, the game itself sends you those presents that say "Love, Mom". It's just a little random thing that's thrown in there. If you just leave the game sitting for months you'll wind up with a bunch of those presents--I don't think it had anything to do with the real-life Mom.

Not to ruin the touching moment or anything... (and maybe I should be embarrassed that I know this).
posted by dixie flatline at 1:37 AM on November 19, 2007 [6 favorites]


If what dixie says is true, does that make this story even more sad, or ever-so-slightly funny?
posted by Reggie Digest at 1:53 AM on November 19, 2007


Wow, it's true, it is cheesy.
posted by mattoxic at 1:53 AM on November 19, 2007


Yeah, so, of course you had to post this right when my mother has decided to be unbelieveably, incredibly, mind-numbingly selfish, rude and nasty to me and for the first time in a decade I am momentarily trying to pretend she doesn't exist, right? Daaaang. Like I'm not already wearing a fancy invisible suit made entirely of maternal guilt trips...

Sigh.
posted by miss lynnster at 1:54 AM on November 19, 2007 [3 favorites]


I'm going to just pretend that I didn't even read what dixie said.
posted by empath at 2:00 AM on November 19, 2007 [11 favorites]


http://www.hot-hot-hot-catlove.com/ac/mail.html

Those are the letters from in-game 'Mom'. I think you'd be able to tell the difference.
posted by empath at 2:02 AM on November 19, 2007


And what, you are too busy commenting on Metafilter, you couldn't maybe call once in a while. I understand if it's too much trouble to spend five minutes to call your Mother, even after she spent 96 hours in labor with you, and then worked her fingers to the bone, the bone I tell you putting food on your table, and the parent teacher conferences, and donating the organs after you selfishly drank your way to organ damage...

There you go Miss Lynnster, I thought you could use a stole to go with your coat.
posted by BrotherCaine at 2:03 AM on November 19, 2007 [2 favorites]


Oh honey, that's AMATEUR stuff. My mom poops guilt trips bigger than that.
posted by miss lynnster at 2:10 AM on November 19, 2007 [6 favorites]


what dixie says is true. And I wanna call my mom this minute, anyhow.
posted by EatTheWeak at 2:12 AM on November 19, 2007


I agree with empath. I spent many an hour playing that damn game and the letters that the in-game mom sends are cheesy and the presents are always lame, like a piece of fruit or something. I'm almost certain the author of this story would be able to tell the difference between the real life mother and the in-game one. Also, if the mom did spend so much time playing the game, I think there's a great possibility that she spent some of that time sending her child gifts to his/her mailbox.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 2:20 AM on November 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


totally hetero.
posted by Addiction at 3:06 AM on November 19, 2007


My mom, who has severe and horrifying Parkinson's and is busy dying in slow motion over the course of decades, would NEVER send me gifts, assuming she could remember how to use a video game, let alone a TV remote control. However, this sweet and cheesy story made me sniffle a little bit for other people's mothers, which is always pleasant.
posted by Peach at 3:14 AM on November 19, 2007



If what dixie says is true, does that make this story even more sad, or ever-so-slightly funny?


...so much more sad.

[mental note] make Mom pay for future passive/aggressive guilt trips with the 'Geez-Mom-it's-not-like-you're-in-a-wheelchair-with-MS-playing-video-games' retort

I love you Mom.
posted by greenskpr at 3:20 AM on November 19, 2007


This doesn't move me at all. In fact it makes me resentful that someone would try to manipulate my emotions.

Fluffy bunnies, different story.
posted by Henry C. Mabuse at 4:01 AM on November 19, 2007


Did you know that British people don't even have moms? They have mummies, which are basically over-bandaged long-dead Egyptians. Every year they have a Mummy's Day and all go to the British Museum to rub their snotty little faces against the display glass and weep. God, they're such fucking babies! If I kept my Mom's internal organs in four canopic jars dedicated to the sons of Horus I wouldn't whine about it all the time while drinking weak tea and jerking off to Benny Hill re-runs - but, that's the limeys for you.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 4:31 AM on November 19, 2007 [3 favorites]


Another story: Traces of Past Crossings.

Animal Crossing is a strangely engrossing game. The version for the DS is awesome. I'm scared to play it again though, having ignored my town and animals for so many years.
posted by chunking express at 4:46 AM on November 19, 2007


I wouldn't whine about it all the time while drinking weak tea

Reminds me of the hymn we used to sing at chapel when I was at the behavior modification centre:

Weak tea are we new brewed,
But stirring makes us strong,
We eat no angel's food,
Our times of trial are long.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 5:10 AM on November 19, 2007


Your mom poops guilt trips? Eww.
posted by waraw at 5:25 AM on November 19, 2007


Call your Mom and tell her you love her.

good advice
posted by caddis at 5:43 AM on November 19, 2007


And that you need to borrow some money.
posted by Eideteker at 5:54 AM on November 19, 2007 [2 favorites]


Animal Crossing sounds like something my own homebound mom would like to play, but now I'm too scared that she'll leave presents for me too and I'll find them later.
That would push me over the edge if that ever happened.
posted by czechmate at 6:22 AM on November 19, 2007


I'm glad no one else has showed up at work yet, because sitting and crying at my desk is not quite the professional image I'm looking for.
posted by Billegible at 6:31 AM on November 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


Ditto, Billegible.
posted by bassjump at 7:28 AM on November 19, 2007


Aw, heck. Normally a single-link YTMND would have my flagdar pinging like crazy, but I think this might just be that Unless It's Something Really Great exception.
posted by cortex at 8:03 AM on November 19, 2007


Thanks for posting this.
posted by drezdn at 8:07 AM on November 19, 2007


RUINITWITHTECHNICALDATAFILTER:

Animal Crossing is a strange game, but interesting in this way. It was originally envisioned as a "communication" game, where multiple players could interact on the same village and communicate with each other, in various ways, using it. The metaphor the developers went for was a kind of house message board. Some of the same ideas (and people, I think) were responsible for the Wii Message Board, which seems like kind of a weird thing to put into a game console at first.

That said, there is indeed a "Mom" character in the game, although it's never seen in person by the player. It exists solely in messages sent by the game from a huge stock of possible sends. They're somewhat indexed according to time of year so they tend to be moment-appropriate in a vaguely seasonal way.

Most of the messages are actually pretty funny (outside of a tragic context, of course), and the attached gifts range from the very common to the semi-rare. The messages tend to be somewhat silly, and outside of context paint an upbeat picture of a slightly dotty old girl who has generic familial adventures (occaisionally along with a Dad character, who the player never hears from). Nintendo's writers are among the best in the game industry, and their English localization team is just as great, so it's rarely a negative point.

I had always wondered what effect these messages would have on someone who had recently lost their own mother. Well actually, my own mother died a couple of years before I started on Animal Crossing, but the Mom-notes never had this kind of effect on me since she was largely game-hostile and would never have played.

Anyway, you guys understand that there is a negative side to this meme, right? If this spreads out too far there's a great chance that Nintendo'll remove the feature from later versions of the game. It sounds exactly like the kind of thing they'd do....
posted by JHarris at 8:31 AM on November 19, 2007


I see your dying mom playing video games and raise you a Last Thanksgiving with Mom, which caused me to be late to work in order to compose myself.
posted by odinsdream at 8:31 AM on November 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


So, is the video game that periodically sends us "letters from Mom" after Mom passes away analogous to the baby porcupine who believed a toilet brush was his mother, only adjusted for language and technical proficiency?

mindless data or not, the YTMND had me choked up a bit, and while I was there, I had to watch this a few times to level off.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 8:47 AM on November 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


My mom has been fighting ovarian cancer for three years, and frequently sends little messages to my cel phone, the things she needs to say but can't say out loud.

"I love you." "I just want to live long enough to see you settled and happy." "I pray for you every day."

I should not have read this first thing in the morning.
posted by astruc at 8:49 AM on November 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


As long as her mom's character on Animal Crossing wasn't named "Mom," it would be completely clear if the messages were from her real mom or the game mom. Animal Crossing tells you who your message is from independently of how they sign it. One from her real mom would say "From: Pippa" (or whatever), and then be signed at the bottom "Love, Mom."

Also, if the daughter had previously spent time playing the game, she would know that the game mom sometimes sends you messages. It's not like she had never seen the game before.

I choose to believe that the messages were from the real mom, not the game mom.
posted by arcticwoman at 8:56 AM on November 19, 2007


Due to some teenage so called ownage the op link is now NSFW (and loud). Maybe we can change it to interrobang's link
posted by clarkie666 at 9:04 AM on November 19, 2007


Why did your link take me to a page with a bright flashing background and naked young men with words written on their bodies in black marker? It _did_ make me cry, but it wasn't what I was expecting.
posted by not that girl at 9:06 AM on November 19, 2007


VERY NSFW.
posted by phyrewerx at 9:15 AM on November 19, 2007


Yeah... um, someone might want to change the fpp link to the comic version.

Looks like that little dead mom tale probably exceeded the sincerity bandwidth available for YTMND. It was only time until it would have to be replaced with some leveling agent that would return things to the proper standards of retardation.
posted by miss lynnster at 9:37 AM on November 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


*Still ticked off at my mom*
posted by miss lynnster at 9:37 AM on November 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


man, people fucking suck.
posted by empath at 9:53 AM on November 19, 2007


Empath, I thought it was sweet! Thanks for sharing.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 10:54 AM on November 19, 2007


They must have unhacked it.
posted by empath at 10:57 AM on November 19, 2007


My mother routinely packed my school lunches all through high school. She added little notes to the lunches periodically, notes about having a good day, how much she loved me, good luck on the test I know you'll do great. It didn't matter what grade I was in, third or 11th, I loved getting those little notes.

After I helped my mother set up her new printer/scanner/fax over the phone, she started regularly sending me faxes at work, little I love you notes, and have a good day. I would hang them up on my bulletin board.

When she saw my office for the first time, she laughed seeing the faxes on my wall. She said she never thought I liked the notes because I never said anything about them, even when I was in school.

I'm going to call her right now.
posted by rhapsodie at 11:07 AM on November 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


you all are lucky. no cute little cyber gifties or cel phone messages here.

no, my mom used to tell me that she wished i'd never been born.

i'm not kidding
posted by CitizenD at 11:44 AM on November 19, 2007


After my father died from a long illness, my step mother gave me my last birthday card that he had gotten for me but was never well enough to send. It was still sealed with my name on the front in his shaky hand and everything.

I still have it, unopened. I've moved with it, always taking great care to pack it carefully. I don't think I'll will ever be able to open it, but it damn near makes me cry whenever I have to touch it.

I suppose it's the last 'new' bit of communication I'll ever get from my Dad and I just. don't. want. it. to. end.

...

On a lighter note, I played AC for a couple of months and got bored with it. I had to give it away unplayed after letting it sit for six months because I knew those little bastards would be pissed that I hadn't been around in a long time.
posted by unixrat at 11:44 AM on November 19, 2007 [9 favorites]


Anyway, you guys understand that there is a negative side to this meme, right? If this spreads out too far there's a great chance that Nintendo'll remove the feature from later versions of the game. It sounds exactly like the kind of thing they'd do....

What?
posted by cortex at 11:47 AM on November 19, 2007


Wow. That was sad. Nice post though.
posted by BostonJake at 11:54 AM on November 19, 2007


Can someone change the FPP link to this:

http://duggmirror.com/nintendo_wii/The_Saddest_YTMND_ever/
posted by empath at 12:24 PM on November 19, 2007


Aww unixrat :( That made me choke up more than the comic.
posted by czechmate at 12:41 PM on November 19, 2007


Unicorn on the cob: I think empath was saying that people sucked because someone had hacked the site and replaced the sweet little story with an animation of Jesus with a boner.
posted by arcticwoman at 1:20 PM on November 19, 2007


Reading that (great) Game Girl Advance article, I have to ask: why in the world would you ever play this game? The knowledge that, long after you've grown tired of the game, your little animal neighbors are still there waiting for your return so it can be like the old days again. Their village falls to ruin around them, but they tell themselves you're coming back even as the weeds grow higher around them.

I'm totally not being sarcastic here; there's no way I could have something like that in my life.
posted by Ian A.T. at 2:34 PM on November 19, 2007 [2 favorites]


thanks Korea. jerks.
posted by KokuRyu at 2:38 PM on November 19, 2007 [2 favorites]


Ian A.T., the game is so engrossing you don't think about it at first. Now, I'm afraid to put my AC:WW game into my gameboy for fear of being berated by my Animals.
posted by chunking express at 3:21 PM on November 19, 2007


re: Ian A.T.'s post

it reminds me of that futurama episode where fry's dog waits for him to return outside that pizza shop. saddest cartoon moment ever.
posted by blendor at 3:24 PM on November 19, 2007


I weeded my town out just last week, actually. You don't really get berated. You get one conversation per neighbor about 'Gosh, has it been X months?' and then all is forgotten. And the animals running the stores and stuff don't even do that!

But yeah, Ian A.T., that's why I deliberately never picked up Nintendogs.
posted by jinjo at 3:34 PM on November 19, 2007


no, my mom used to tell me that she wished i'd never been born.

Yeah, I know how you feel. Lately, my mother has turned into Livia Soprano.

There may be a hit on me. I'm not sure.
posted by miss lynnster at 3:37 PM on November 19, 2007


Just to reply to dixie; despite the fact that there is an invisible computer "mom" in the game, I myself sincerely believe the narrator's mom actually sent some (if not most) of the letters/presents in the story.

I played that game for about a year with a number of housemates including my girlfriend, and she and I exchanged presents by mail all of the time. I find it quite natural to assume the narrator, having played the game a lot him/herself, knew the difference.
posted by churl at 3:56 PM on November 19, 2007


"it reminds me of that futurama episode where fry's dog waits for him to return outside that pizza shop. saddest cartoon moment ever."

Yeah...this episode gets me every time. The first time I saw it I was stunned that a cartoon could deliver that kind of emotional blow.
posted by UseyurBrain at 4:01 PM on November 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


sigh....

Since it was a YTMND link, I was expecting a variation of Secret Nazi Forest with Animal Crossing or something involving that pink haired child from Lazy Town.

This was actually sad.

:(
posted by inqb8tr at 4:30 PM on November 19, 2007


I too was worried about the YTMND link - thinking it probably wasn't actually going to be sad. Boy was I wrong.

My mother's battle with cancer is soon to run out, so the docs say, and I've cancelled all holiday plans for both Turkey Day and Xmas just to spend time with her instead. I keep trying to think of ways that I can keep her around, in memory/keepsakes/whatever and seeing this kinda makes getting through the workday this evening a little bit more difficult.

But, hey, thanks for posting it. While it's sad - it's also heartening to see someone look past the cold digital realm and see the metaphors locked inside.
posted by revmitcz at 5:06 PM on November 19, 2007


This is pretty hilarious. My mom just brought me some dinner ("Don't get excited, it's just leftover Kung Pao chicken without chicken or peanuts") and I was telling her about Animal Crossing, specifically the depressing issues I raised up above.

Her comment: "It's like having a stuffed animal that knows you're taking him to Goodwill."
posted by Ian A.T. at 5:55 PM on November 19, 2007


To play or not to play...

1) I'm borrowing New Super Mario Bros (have been for over a year now) from a friend. Last year, my nephew wanted to get a DS when he saw me playing it at x-mas, and my sister told him to save his money. Well in February, they got it, and she sent me an e-mail asking me about a level. I pointed her to gamefaqs.

I got to level 8 sometime in the first half of the year, and stopped, not really digging that level. Then the accident happened. My sister was killed by a drunk driver (she was 8 months pregnant as well)...

Every time I think about starting that game again, I hesitate, because it makes me think of that e-mail she sent. I know it's stupid... I'm sure some of it is not really liking that level anyways, but I know that the issue is definitely deeper than just not liking that level.

2) On a lighter note: We had a friend move in a few years back, who (we sadly found out later) had borderline personality disorder. She ended up taking over my Animal Crossing town, essentially turning what was a fun game of exploration to me, into a competition. She didn't have a dayjob, so all day she played that, while I was working, then when I got home, I didn't feel like "keeping up with the joneses"...

So, there I was, a game I purchased on my own, desecrated beyond belief, with the giant statue of HER in my town. I picked it up a year or so later, and the weeds were in full bloom, and I really just didn't feel like weeding and doing the whole thing all over again, so it's never been played again. Thanks a lot!
posted by symbioid at 6:33 PM on November 19, 2007


Can I say "not liking that level" one more time?
posted by symbioid at 6:35 PM on November 19, 2007


I thought for sure it was going to end with a joke like "Ha ha FAGS!".

I didn't know YTMND could have something so tender.
posted by dr_dank at 7:03 PM on November 19, 2007


Responding to cortex's "What?"....

Nintendo tries to make games that are safe, and safety takes many forms. It's the same reasoning that caused the DVD of classic Sesame Street moments to carry a warning saying it was unsuitable for children.

I was always surprised they'd name a character Mom without thinking about players who may have lost their mother, or have strongly negative relations with theirs. Or, for that matter, referring to "Dad" when the player may well not have one, or another woman in that role. It always seemed like a very Fifties assumption for them to make. While I disagree that Nintendo games are "for" kids, they are marketed to children.
posted by JHarris at 9:12 AM on November 20, 2007


Okay, I can follow you there, JHarris, but I think you're tilting at windmills in this instance, and I say that as a conflicted long-time Nintendo fanboy. I can't see any plausible path along which Nintendo would travel that would lead them to proscribe letters/gifts from an archetypal "Mom" NPC as a reaction to potential mom-related trauma in a real player's life.

The idea that it's a "Fifties assumption" seems like giving them far too little credit, to me; it strikes me that the designers—and even younger players—can and do fully understand the idea that this is intended as Charater's Mom as a figurative device in the game, no less and no more.

Besides which, the degree to which there's a dedication among Nintendo's A-list designer/producers to make games that feel comfortable and which have a sort of quiet (if generally very lighthearted) emotional resonance runs kind of at odds with the idea that they'd try and avoid any specter of parental affection in a setting.

So, yeah. That's where my "what?" is coming from. Thanks for explicating it a bit.
posted by cortex at 9:51 AM on November 20, 2007


I have something in my eye.
posted by infinitywaltz at 1:26 PM on November 20, 2007


Okay, I can follow you there, JHarris, but I think you're tilting at windmills in this instance,

It's not a case of tilting at anything (like I could do Thing One to modify whatever course of action they take anyway). I can just picture them doing it, and I just hate it, that's all. The designers aren't the people I'm worried about, it's Nintendo of America, who basically rewrites all the text we see in these games, and who must, of necessity, play a far greater role in the production of the Animal Crossing series, which are half-recreated for each market anyway.

Let's just say that I will be quite pleased if they don't do what I expect, okay? I suppose it is encouraging that the Mom character has been in two consecutive games by now.
posted by JHarris at 6:56 PM on November 20, 2007


I'm happy to leave it and wait and see, but I'm not entirely comfortable staking the argument on the unprovable notion that if for whatever reason Mom is left out of a future title, it's a reaction to this. I think this specific concern is far-fetched, even if I hear where you're coming form.
posted by cortex at 7:00 PM on November 20, 2007


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