I decided I wanted to remember what it felt like to feel happy rather than psychotic when playing video games, and therefore blew the dust off of my 3DS and smiled when the cute little music started up. Subsequently, I took a trip to my town in Animal Crossing, but seeing as all the anthropomorphic cuddle bags there were being such whiny bastards about my absence, I decided to abandon that guilt trip and head straight on over to Tomodachi Life instead. The Miis there had no concept of time. What could possibly go wrong?
Upon arriving in this fresh hell, I was greeted with music so cheerful I almost wanted to throw money at the screen a second time. Now, I don’t buy 3DS games very often, on account of Nintendo having not got the memo about a game costing less than £40 if it’s over a month old. Or a year old. But Tomodachi Life, at the time, was on sale for a whopping £10 off, and I’d been watching some playthrough of the game on Youtube and decided it would be a delightful idea to own a digital copy that was on my 3DS at all times.
If only I’d known what I would become.
To begin with, it was great. I’d already decided not to put any family members into the game due to the fact that there’s no “related” option and I didn’t want things to get weird, as I’ve heard can be the case in this game. (Update: I just found the option. Oh well.) But I did start putting people from the world around me into the game, and although it felt slightly weird being able to pick my friends up and yank them around the place like some malevolent god out for lunch money, it was only a game. I started buying them meals and clothes and silly little hats with a stupid grin on my face as I made them all make friends with each other.
Soon, I unlocked the compatibility tester, a function which acted much like the text you could send in to music channels back in the day; you put two names into a random number generator and it tells you the percentage of your relationship compatibility. (To be fair, I think Tomodachi Life factors personality into this.) At first, I thought it was a little odd and creepy to be messing with this kind of thing with virtual copies of my real friends… so I just didn’t touch it. In order to enable this feature in the first place, however, the little people I’d made required full dates of birth, and not wanting to shirk my responsibilities as autocratic god, I researched my friends’ full dates of birth via Facebook. And this is when I really started feeling creepy.
Now, apparently, in Tomodachi Life, it is impossible for a boy and a girl to just be friends. I know this because, when one of my university friends asked me if it was a good idea to go and talk to the little Mii representation of myself, I accidentally initiated some sort of mutual crush scenario which immediately got so weird I just stopped interacting with the two of them. Having not learned my lesson, however, many people who shouldn’t have been interested in each other suddenly jumped into each others’ laps, and it was then that I realised that I was not playing some silly little game anymore. At least, not to anyone who could view my save file, should they get their hands on it. They’d think I was warped. Creating an alternate reality which I must have wished for. Manipulating people to my will. Creating my own sanctuary where I was the center of everything and people made babies on my command.
So I did as any god would do when faced with great expectation. I left them to fend for themselves.
(Oh stop grumbling that was a joke)
In all seriousness, I know it’s stupid that a game made me paranoid about what people in real life would think, but Tomodachi Life can become a very personal experience when you add people from real life into the game. It’s like a diary which you can lose control of and that sometimes writes itself, but you’d never be able to convince anyone that what the diary wrote is different to what you wrote.
Towards the latter days on that godforsaken, cheerful island, I decided to add a few Youtube personalities into the mix in an attempt to balance out the weird. When my character subsequently fell in love with one of them, however, creating an awful love triangle between a real person who is actually in a relationship, myself who is uninterested, and a Youtuber who has never heard of any of us, I just quit. Just up and left. Too weird. Too messed up. Goodbye and good luck, virtual denizens of whatever I called this island. I was never meant to be a god.
And today, I return, to rain down fiery meteors and re-shape the island to my will.
I’ve decided I’m going to add myself, and fictional characters only. Nobody from the real world anymore. This will likely take away from the Tomodachi experience of managing your little virtual friends, but I’m not sure I want that kind of power anymore. That kind of power leads to dangerous mistakes. It’s easier to nuke them all and be done with it.
And that’s how a Nintendo game made me feel like a psychopath once more.
UPDATE: When I deleted the save, my character said, “Ahh! I’m fading away!” and “You may have deleted everything, but we still have some nice memories.”
I’m a monster.