No, the title of this article is not a joke.
Animal Crossing is a video game franchise published by Nintendo, and you basically play as the mayor/leader of a small town. You get to develop the town, sell fruit and shells to some small racoons called Timmy and Tommy, improve your house (and decorate it) and the best part? You get to invite some cool animal villagers to live with you!
It’s a kids game. Through and through. But my God, is it therapeutic.
The best thing about Animal Crossing for me is the routine. I wake up every morning during this seemingly endless quarantine period, turn on my Nintendo Switch and start my “chores”. I shake trees for money, fruit and furniture, check the shops, speak to all my villager friends and tidy up my island. I get to plan for the day too. Maybe today I’ll decorate and make a little gym or playground? Or I’ll spend the day fishing, or diving for sea creatures? The possibilities seem endless.
When you suffer from depression, daily tasks can feel like a nightmare. Showers turn into Everest, making food feels like swimming through a stormy sea. Everything is exhausting. Talking to friends feels like a chore, social media is mostly negative news, and the thought of work can make you cry. Pair that with the crushing anxiety that comes from not being productive and you have a fun but sad little cocktail of mental illness. Animal Crossing changed that for me.
I could still feel productive even though I’ve sat in bed until 3pm and haven’t texted any of my friends. Yeah, maybe I haven’t done anything in real life, but in Animal Crossing, I made a cute little Zen area for Zucker the octopus and I’m really proud of it! Maybe I couldn’t muster up the energy to shower today, but I fished up a bunch of sharks and sold them for lots of Bells (currency in the game) and I’m happy with it!
Animal Crossing has also helped my social life! I joined a number of online groups on Facebook and Discord which are all centered around visiting each other, trading items and selling things in the game. I visit my friends on their islands, and it feels like we’re together again, even though in real life I haven’t seen them in months. The game offers a life-like experience sometimes, without the social pressures and exhaustion of real life interaction.
Video games, along with other forms of entertainment like films, have always been about escapism. Most people want to get immersed into a video game for a few hours to escape from and ignore what’s going on in the real world. Want to get away? You can be an ancient Greek mercenary in Assassin’s Creed, a human who fell down into the world of monsters in Undertale, or a young girl with her pseudo dad in a zombie apocalypse in The Last of Us. And you can be the Resident Representative of a small island you get to look after in Animal Crossing. Some people may think it’s ‘sad’ or harmful to escape into a video game for a few hours, but I think there’s nothing wrong with it. There’s no shame in finding solace in a video game! -Kaitlyn
Alejandro Javier Mata
Well made article, reminds me of the solace I find when playing my favorite games too. Honestly I am a big fan of escapism.
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