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If you follow me on social media then it’s no secret that I’ve been obsessed with Animal Crossing lately. I was eagerly awaiting its arrival for months and it just so happened that it came along at a very, very appropriate time. Thousands of people all over the world have been on lockdown to help prevent the rapid spread of COVID-19.
For those who aren’t well-versed introverts, the lockdown has the potential to cause ‘Cabin fever.’ Extroverts might not be prepared for the sheer amount of effort it takes to be isolated. Honestly, it’s exhausting to be alone and bored all the time. Eventually, you lose interest and motivation to do the things you love. Even if there are books, movies, and video games, everything can start to lose its appeal after a few days on the couch.
The arrival of “Animal Crossing: New Horizons” changed what could have been a very boring quarantine into something else entirely.
There’s no doubt that Animal Crossing has been a diamond among possibly one of the roughest periods of our young lives. It arrived on our Switch screens and in our post boxes at just the right time.
But lets back up a bit.
Just what is Animal Crossing?
Animal Crossing is a social simulation video game published by Nintendo. It first graced our screens in 2001 on the Nintendo 64 and later reissued for the Nintendo Gamecube. It’s since had four other games released for each of the major Nintendo consoles (Nintendo DS, Wii, 3DS, and the switch).
In Animal Crossing you arrive in a foreign land filled with whimsically animal characters to befriend and, sometimes, neglect. You acquire a home from the notorious raccoon, Tom Nook, and work to pay off the loan by selling fruit, items, and more.
Animal crossing may sound like nothing more than capitalism disguised in a cute ‘furry‘ package, and it is to an extent. But it’s also a great way to escape the monotony of everyday life. You can work to fill your home with various items, go shopping with Bells, visit friends, and you may actually pay off your mortgage.
How has it helped my mental health?
Games such as Animal Crossing have always helped me to escape. I find myself losing hours fishing, collecting, talking to villagers and visiting islands. It’s a fun way to pass the time and serves as a welcome distraction when things get rough.
Animal Crossing has also proved an excellent way to keep in touch. I’m not able to see my best friend at the moment for obvious reasons, but we’re able to spend time together in-game! Although there isn’t much to do at the moment aside from visit and shop, we can still go about our daily tasks while we chat over Wattsapp.
Finally, it provides an outlet for creativity. You can change up your hairstyle in an instant, try out some questionable fashion choices and even design your home. New Horizons goes one step further and allows you to customize your island using the brand new build tools! How cool is that?!
Interested in more Nintendo Switch games suitable for young audiences? Check out this post.
How has Animal Crossing: New Horizons helped your mental health?
I spoke to a number of people across varying platforms to get their experience of Animal Crossing. There was an overwhelmingly possible response and I’m unable to display all responses here. However, everyone was in agreement that Animal Crossing: New Horizons, and previous installments of the game, have had a positive impact on their mental health.
“Animal Crossing New Horizons gives me something to look forward to every day. The game is cheerful in nature and can be played with friends whilst you can’t see them in person! Even if you don’t have Nintendo online you have cute islanders to befriend!”
“I’ve been glued to it nonstop. It’s really helping my mental health, offers me an escape and I can play online with my family who I’ve not seen in ages.”
Anna Reel (The Reel Anna).
“When my husband bought Animal Crossing, I really didn’t think it would be the kind of game I’d enjoy. But I tried it out with him and I was hooked! It’s such a lovely escape. So cute and wholesome—just what we all could use right now. If you’ve had a rough day and feel unproductive, you can turn on your Switch and get that happy boost to your brain that you need to feel accomplished as you complete simple tasks in the game.“
“It’s also a great way to stay connected with people while social distancing. We had started a weekly game night with friends right before all this happened, and I was bummed we couldn’t continue it. But now with this game we’ll be able to all hang out together on our virtual island.”
“Animal Crossing has been such a positive and welcome experience for me during lockdown. It’s been such a good source of escapism, giving me my own little island that I’ve designed myself to spend time in. I can tune out of the negativity and go there after work which has really helped to relax me. I’ve also found it brilliant for socialising – although I’m not exactly a socialite, I have missed being around people and Animal Crossing has enabled me to keep in touch and socialise with others through island visits and content sharing. I’ve even made new friends through it!”
“Animal Crossing has brought Naomi and I closer together. It’s a game we can both take a shared interest in and play together. It feels like a little bit of normality in these times.”
“I have played AC on multiple platforms and luckily got the switch just in time for its release and this pandemic. It is one of my only mental escapes at the moment. Very thankful to have an adorable place to feel productive and explore.”
What about you?
Have you been enjoying Animal Crossing lately? I’d love to hear more about your experience in the comments.
**If you’d like to hang out on AC: NH, feel free to get in touch! I’m always up for visitors.