One of the heroes in Paul Hubans’ life is his 88-year-old grandmother, Audrey Buchanan, who helped raise him while his single mom went to college and went to work during his childhood.
Hubans, who works as an independent video game developer, says he’s been a ‘gamer’ since he can remember. The 33-year-old remembers asking his grandmother for help solving puzzles on his Nintendo Entertainment System when he was a young child learning to read.
“Many people in my family are subject to video games,” Hubans, who is now working as a career in video game art and level design, told TODAY Parents. “And I think my Gran is a pretty good example of that.”
Hubans has fond memories of playing “Tetris” on his Nintendo Game Boy with Buchanan and remembers getting excited about playing “Pokemon Red and Blue”, the first parts of the Pokemon – in the ’90s. video game series, by her side when his high school classmates would not come on board with the new game.
But it was the 2012 Nintendo game “Animal Crossing: New Leaf” played on the 3DS console that captured his grandmother’s heart.
At first she was like, “What’s this? Hubans recalled the day in 2014 when he bought the new game for Buchanan. “She is very resistant to new things when I pitch them for her … but she quickly fell in love with what is still her favorite game.”
In 2018, Buchanan dropped and broke her 3DS. Since Nintendo had begun to phase out the handheld system, Hubans went to Reddit to look for a replacement to buy. A Reddit user in Germany offered to sell Hubans a 3DS and when it arrived Hubans sat down to move his grandmother’s data from the broken console to its replacement.
He was shocked at what he found.
“When I was doing the system transfer, I noticed that her activity log said that she had spent about 3,500 hours playing ‘Animal Crossing’,” said Hubans, who shared videos about gaming on Youtube Channel.
In the “Animal Crossing” game series, which consists of five games released in nearly 20 years, players are human characters who live in a village with anthropomorphic animals and attain in-game status through a city over time. build and develop while doing different daily tasks like picking fruit, pulling weeds and fishing.
In nearly 4,000 hours of gameplay, Buchanan’s city was incredibly complicated and developed, and Hubans wanted to show it to his followers.
So Hubans filmed for half an hour Youtube video, sat down with his grandmother and asked her to lead him through her city “Animal Crossing: New Leaf”. In the video, which has been watched by more than 11 million people, Buchanan shows structures she created in her city, introduces viewers to the various animal figures she has come across in the game, and gives her grandson the layout of the land in her town called ‘Adams’ where her character’s name is ‘Mayor Audie’.
After posting the video, Hubans says his grandma has built up a huge fan base. So when Nintendo announced its latest version of the game, “Animal Crossing: New Horizons” from 2020, and a special “Animal Crossing” version of the Nintendo Switch console, Hubans was not surprised that his followers wanted to make sure that his grandmother put her hands on them.
“So many people contacted me and said they wanted to send Gran One as a gift,” said Hubans. “I felt that people really wanted to be a part of it. I was going to buy it for her anyway, but I wanted to commit people’s generosity, so I set up a GoFundMe to get it for her.”
Hubans immediately put $ 50 into his GoFundMe and was shocked at how quickly fundraising reached $ 500 in contributions. With the money raised, Hubans had enough to buy Buchanan the new game, the “Animal Crossing” brand Switch and some accessories such as a keychain with her favorite character from the game, a squirrel named Filbert.
“It was supposed to be a surprise, but Gran actually reads all the comments on my YouTube videos, so she saw where I said we gave her the Switch and I would surprise her and make a video,” said Hubans.
Although his surprise was spoiled, Hubans, who recently moved from California to Western Pennsylvania to live closer to his grandmother, filmed himself giving Buchanan the goodies.
The video, showing that Buchanan is receiving its new Switch and trying out “Animal Crossing: New Horizons” for the first time, was posted in early April and already has nearly 3 million views.
Hubans said there is a belief in the community of “Animal Crossing” fans online that Nintendo even named a character in the new game after his grandmother.
“There’s an Audie character in the new game,” Hubans explained. That’s her nickname, and it’s not a common name. It was also the name of her mayor character in “New Leaf.”
“It’s a wolf character,” Hubans continued. “Many people strongly speculate that it’s a hat tip for her – a kind of tribute to my grandmother.”
TODAY Nintendo contacted to confirm whether the game’s “Audie” character was named after Buchanan, but the company declined to comment.
So what does Buchanan like “Animal Crossing?”
“It’s more of a dollhouse than a game,” Buchanan told TODAY Parents. “I never had a dollhouse as a child, so I think that’s why I like it.”
Buchanan said she likes the new Nintendo version of her beloved game, but she still plans to play with both.
“I don’t want to give up on my other because I’ve had it so far,” she said. “But I like the new one. I didn’t think I would, but I do. “
The nearly 89-year-old said she is shocked by her viral fame and the way her grandson’s YouTube subscribers have embraced her.
“I can’t believe it,” she said. “We live in the countryside. It is 29 miles to a supermarket. I just can’t believe people are so interested in me. “
Hubans said his grandmother is a special woman, and it is no surprise that the world loves her.
“I feel so blessed and happy to have someone like that in my life,” he said. “She has always been a phenomenal person in my life in general … the fact that she plays video games with me is just a bonus.”