Leaving ‘Animal Crossing’ Wasn’t a Hard Decision, But Painful Nonetheless

For some odd reason, I love interacting with people online, especially in virtual realities. I find it fascinating that someone manages to fully represent themselves (or whoever they aspire to be) through an avatar. As such, Animal Crossing is a franchise with a coveted spot in my heart. The NPC interactions and customization options sure keep me entertained, but it’s the community that keeps me coming back. Or rather, kept.

The Animal Crossing community is way bigger than hardcore gamers think and is known mostly for its kindness. It’s difficult to interact with someone and not be overwhelmed by kind words and actions. Sometimes players may seem too silent, inexperienced, or maybe they’re in a rush, but it takes a lot for someone to be rude. However, there is one person, in particular — one vital asset of the community — who goes against everything we mayors are all about.

OK, let’s get this out of the way. It’s a Reddit moderator. And I know what you’re thinking. “But Gabriel, Reddit is a shit show. You can’t expect not to be harassed there. You asked for it by having an account in the first place.” However, remember that we’re talking about the Animal Crossing community, filled with friendly people who just want to catch bugs, fish, and trade items with one another. Despite all of our differences, we’re not interested in disrespecting others — we just want to water the flowers and have a good time.

What is this all about, then? How come a Reddit moderator of one of the most friendly communities on the internet is being called out by a nobody? Forward back to March when I got my first 3DS and a copy of Animal Crossing: New Leaf (the reason I got a 3DS in the first place). I’m just getting started on the whole mayoral thing. I’m excited, playing every day, and interacting with the community. /r/AnimalCrossing is filled with nice posts that make me want to be a part of this big family for as long as I live. However, moving to /r/ACTrade — the subreddit the majority of the community uses to trade — and things change quite drastically. While people are nice still, there is one particular mod who deliberately bullies users, myself included. My first interaction with her was far from friendly. She was passive aggressive and after I made clear she was being unreasonable, aggressiveness was all over the place. It escalated so quickly that she suggested, and I quote, “I am getting the feeling this community is probably not a good fit for you.” Surprisingly enough this interaction, based on the use of a question mark (I kid you not, that’s all it took for my post to be removed), didn’t result in a ban.

There’s something in me that wants to make the world a better place even if it’s a losing game. I just want people to live peacefully even though I can’t quite stand people — save a handful of friends and acquaintances. Seeing how I was mistreated for no good reason triggered this side of me. I was bent on writing an article exposing how amazing the Animal Crossing community is but how it’s ruined by one specific person. It was subtle and yet my hurt feelings were distinguishable. Nothing like this one. No, I’m actually going all out here. Either way, what I ended up writing is a fine read, so go check it out!

There was another misunderstanding with the same moderator over my Rate My Mayor page. The Rate My Mayor (RMM for short) is a subreddit that serves as a system to rate users across a multitude of trade-centered subreddits such as /r/ACTurnips and the gigantic /r/ACTrade, which sees a flux of activity every day. Long story short, I didn’t check in with the moderators for a flair update when I had about 10 or 15 reviews left to upgrade. Instead, I waited until I had a total of 50 reviews (all 5/5, mind you). I sent the following modmail, concerned with how much work I would put them through.

And in response, I got this:

Nothing to it. I already knew she was a piece of work, so I just put it behind me. I resumed my tradings as if nothing happened since RMM isn’t a requirement to trade. If anyone asked for it, I would just say it was locked.

Recently I decided to hold a special summer sale with discounted goods. I really had to clean up my storage and I had just made 4mn bells for holding someone else’s items while they moved to another town. I could’ve given those items away but since I would want it to be fair, it would require a level of organization I just don’t have. For that reason, I sold the items dirty cheap instead (and trust me, 10k bells for unorderable items is almost the same as giving them away).

Lo and behold, a user asks for my RMM to leave me a kind review since our trade went on smoothly. In fact, other users asked the same and I gave them all the same answer: it’s been locked. I only gave the reason why to one user, however, and that caught the attention of the subject of this piece. This is what happened:

Which, in turn, resulted in my account being temporarily banned. I couldn’t care less if it was any other community; however, this is Animal Crossing we’re talking about. I once got hundreds of thumbs up on one of my posts down at /r/AnimalCrossing despite it being a silly joke about me not being fond of a villager. Other users get thousands of thumbs up just for being ingeniously funny. If you see a negative comment in any such post, let me know because that’s an event. At most, users will give constructive criticism, being careful not to be too harsh.

Of course, I was enraged. I do my best to be nice to everyone, to be respectful and kind, and to make sure our interactions go as smoothly as possible — all for what, to be bullied? Bullied by a person who’s supposed to oversee the community and make sure no one’s causing trouble? That doesn’t sound fair, now does it?

“Suck it up, Gabriel.” You’re thinking whilst shaking your head in disgust. “The world’s unfair. Why don’t you keep this to yourself or take it to the Animal Crossing community instead of wasting my precious time?”

That’s the thing. The only other subreddit this moderator isn’t associated with is /r/AnimalCrossing. It’s also the only one where making any such post would make sense. I posted the screenshots above and some users even came forward to mention they’ve been bullied time and time again by the very same moderator. However, there’s nothing any of us can do besides ignoring and downvoting her. Beyond that, there’s nothing the /r/AnimalCrossing moderators can do, so my post was removed. The little bug within me, the one that shouts for change, said it was a good idea to make yet another post exposing the bully. This time I knew I was silently asking to be banned, so I did the least noble thing I could and said to the moderation team on a public comment that there would be no hard feelings if they decided to ban me for that. I just couldn’t sit around and do nothing while this person, who’s supposed to represent the community to some extent, goes unpunished. Moments later, I was permanently banned from /r/AnimalCrossing.

In a way, it pains me to leave the community at all. And yes, yes. I know what you’re thinking. “Gabriel, you’re such an idiot, you stupid fuck!” Alright, no need to scream, buddy. “Why not just leave it be, you retarded? Move on or just move out!” Supposing you’re American, why are you angry at your president? Why do you want someone else to take over the White House? Isn’t is because Donald Trump is a bully? A man with too big an ego who can’t even understand when he’s being disrespectful? And I know the importance of these two things is largely different, but why should I and everyone else be bullied by someone who’s supposed to guarantee that everything runs smoothly? I can’t change America, mostly because I’m a Brazilian residing in Brazil, but I can at least try and make the lives of Animal Crossing mayors less of a living hell — even if all that means is showing them that they’re not alone. Or could if those in charge didn’t censor my attempts.

I am fully aware that this whole piece comes off as a butt hurt whitchhunt, which it is somehwat. But contacting other users who were or are still active on /r/ACTrade made me realize this is much bigger than me. This is not about one guy mad that the internet is full of baddies, but that a lovely community is being hurt by one petty individual. After my ban and attempts to have my voice heard, a fellow mayor started a subreddit dedicated to us victims of the abusive moderator. And while it sounds like we’re going to harass her, we just want to let off some steam. OK, let me shield myself here: I just want to let off some steam. Ideally we would like to see a change, but that’s a long shot considering this woman oversees other subreddits dedicated to Animal Crossing trading. I would suggest to anyone remotely interested in the subject of bullying and abuse of power to have a look at the moderator’s comments, many of which were catalogued in this thread.

I probably won’t stop playing Animal Crossing and I’m still rooting for the next game, but it will never be the same thing without the community. These people were the reason why I spent more than 200 hours with New Leaf and why sometimes I would have my 3DS on for a whole afternoon, which is saying a lot since I’m a battery freak. I can’t stand being part of a community managed by bullies and people who censor their bullied users, so I’m calling it quits. Farewell, Animal Crossing. And good luck to those who decide to stick around even though there’s nothing they can do about this situation.