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Utilizing ‘Animal Crossing: New Horizons’ to improve well-being during coronavirus crisis

<p>"Animal Crossing: New Horizons" was released amid the coronavirus global pandemic, and can be used to relieve stress and anxiety.&nbsp;</p>

"Animal Crossing: New Horizons" was released amid the coronavirus global pandemic, and can be used to relieve stress and anxiety. 


“Animal Crossing: New Horizons” is finally here, and it couldn't have been released at a better time. For those of you who haven’t played the older editions of the game, the game series is a simulation game, much like “Stardew Valley” and “The Sims,” where people assume the role of a human character and perform real-life actions and interact with animal villagers.

Although the “Animal Crossing” game series was well known before the recent release on Friday, the games have an avid fan base among niche groups who enjoyed social simulation games rather than a general audience. 

Ironically, the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) panic is helping the publicity of the game. A petition was created to advocate an earlier release of the game weeks before the release. More than 24,700 people signed the petition, almost reaching the goal of 25,000 signatures — there are people still signing even after the game release. Promotion videos on YouTube have more than 1 million views, and the game is the best-selling Nintendo Switch game recently. 

So, what features on “Animal Crossing: New Horizons” create entertainment for many people?

Fostering artistic imaginations and skills

The new game allows every user to create custom clothes and accessories as well as add custom designs to furniture and clothing. A custom design can be made through the NookPhone, which is given to you by Tom Nook at the beginning of the game. A grid box appears which you fill in with colors and shapes by using a variety of options located at the top of your screen.

You can also buy the Custom Design Pro Editor to import patterns you’ve made online or received from others through a QR code. You can either use the pattern editor website or you can connect with people worldwide, as there are numerous patterns floating around social media and the web. A personal favorite of mine is this pudding hat.

Invite and connect with people around the world

A way to combat social-distancing loneliness is to invite friends to your island or visit your friend’s island. The process is simple and easily accessible through the airport. You can visit a friend’s island even with a large distance and indulge in nature and tasks that are prevented in reality. Some couples also use the game to spend time with each other by going on virtual dates. 

If you don’t know anyone with the game, there isn’t an issue. You can also visit a random island through the Nook Miles ticket, and many people are sharing their Nintendo ID through social media and Reddit. Despite the social distancing, the game is an opportunity to make friends and relationships around the world.

Self-achievements

One of the greatest ideals of “Animal Crossing” is accomplishing goals and having self-achievement. Unlike past editions, the new edition upgraded this ideal by using Nook Miles. Nook Miles is a rewards program by giving miles to users who complete specific challenges. These miles can be used to purchase special items and upgrades, and it can also be used to pay off your first mortgage cost. 

Due to the “stay-at-home” order, daily routines are broken and many motivations are lost. When you feel like you can’t do anything due to COVID-19, fulfilling these goals can show the contrary. Although “Animal Crossing” is just a game, these self-achievements can instill confidence and liveliness that can be converted to school assignments or work done from home.

Relive nostalgia

For people, including myself, who played the series before, the greatest selling point is to relive my childhood memories. The game made me feel like I was in an actual small town, being part of something in a huge world. I had the ability to make new friends both offline and online, experience goodbyes with villagers that were leaving, feel the satisfaction of paying off a mortgage and upgrading to a bigger house and much more. 

Although the concept of the game is fairly simple, especially when you explain it to someone who hasn’t played it before, the game taught me a lot about life: handling relationships, learning responsibility and setting goals.

During this time of pandemic panic, “Animal Crossing” can allow you to create a simple life without any external stressors — there is no death or illness, except for occasional wasp stings. Those who miss traveling can use the airport to travel to islands with different weather and environment. Those who miss social interaction can talk to neighbors, visit islands or have a ceremony to celebrate newly opened buildings and bridges. Those who miss the beach can fish by shores and sit next to coconut trees in the sunlight.

The game is another life — it provides an escape to an individual paradise away from the troubles we are currently facing in reality.


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