Locked-down Shanghai Recreated in 'Animal Crossing' Metaverse

By Lars James Hamer, April 29, 2022

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A couple in Shanghai have recreated the sights of locked-down Shanghai in the popular video game Animal Crossing, Sixth Tone reports. 

Laura Liang and her boyfriend Josh Jiang have taken the iconic green fences, shutdown venues and roadblocks of Shanghai and incorporated them into a digital version of the city. 

IMG_7410.jpegAnimal Crossing's Sealed off City. Screenshot via Snowthings.

Liang and Jiang are in their fourth week of modeling Animal Crossing on the current Shanghai lockdown, which has seen 25 million residents confined to their apartments. 

However, their Animal Crossing town’s similarity to lockdown Shanghai came totally by accident. 

Liang and Jiang began their at-home isolation on March 20, and started playing the game after a short break. 

“Since I haven’t traveled abroad in the past two years, I wanted to recreate the memories of various cities I have visited on this island,” Liang told Sixth Tone.

When Liang and Jiang booted up Animal Crossing: New Horizons, they discovered that the town they had previously created has the same green fences to the ones currently being rolled out in Shanghai. 

“That green fence in the photo struck me because I have the exact same fence on the island – and our island is full of animals. It couldn’t be more ironic.”

IMG_7414.jpegScreenshot via Snowthings.

Jiang then decided to record a video of their Animal Crossing town, which he uploaded to their WeChat channel, Snowthings. 

The video shows the island committee chief exploring the city with a voice-over, which sounds all too similar to the pre-recorded metro messages reminding us all to wear a mask (as if we’d forget after more than two years).

Popular destinations in the city include the old town, “the area most seriously affected by the pandemic,” and an area that is seemingly set up for nucleic acid tests, complete with QR codes. 

IMG_7413.jpegThe worst affected area. Screenshot via Snowthings.

The video begins with a short news broadcast, where a character explains: “In order to prevent the epidemic from spreading to the Metaverse, the island of Animal Crossing has been sealed off.” 

IMG_7411.jpegThe video's opening broadcast. Screenshot via Snowthings.

As of press time, the video has over 1,000 favorites, 25,000 shares and 8,000 likes. Jiang said the video had been viewed more than 220,000 times by Thursday afternoon. 

Animal Crossing was released in March 2020 during the first COVID-19 outbreak. 

The Nintendo Switch game has not been approved for release in China, but users have purchased second-hand versions on Taobao or via the Nintendo Switch Store (connected to countries outside of China).

[Cover image via Snowthings]

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