Animal Crossing: A New Way to Stay Connected

Karen Gil, Writer

Imagine being able to celebrate a friend’s upcoming birthday during social distancing. Instead of just sending a short text saying “Happy Birthday,” how about throwing a surprise party, it is possible through Animal Crossing.

Animal Crossing is a social simulation video game that allows players to interact in a fictional world and its characters. Animal Crossing has an open-ended concept meaning that the player has endless hours of gameplay. The main mission in the game is to pay off a loan to Tom Nook a Tanuki (Raccoon Dog). The goal of Animal Crossing relies largely on interaction with nature and other players. 

Social simulation games and multiplayer games have become popular during social distancing. Social simulation video games help people stay connected.

Animal Crossing New Horizon was released on March 20, 2020, at the beginning of the outbreak in the United States. New Horizon is the 5th installment in the Animal Crossing main series. According to Super Data: A Nielsen Company, Animal Crossing sold 5 million digital copies in the first month of its release. That is more than Call of Duty: Black Ops IIII, Smash Bros Ultimate, and Pokemon Sword and Shield.

“Animal Crossing has done well because people can still find a way to interact with one another. Bottom line, we are incredibly social creatures, and that’s what we want,” said Professor Patrick Hickey Jr, writer of the book The Minds Behind Adventure Games: Interviews with Cult and Classic Video Game Developer.

Animal Crossing creates an environment that allows the players to feel at ease due to its interactive nature. The video game is allowing friends and family to feel connected during these uncertain times.

“It’s created a bond between my cousins and I. We play every night we can on New Leaf and visit each other’s towns. It helps us laugh and enjoy each other’s company,” said Guadalupe Vargas, an 18-year-old senior in high school

Animal Crossing has not just allowed close family and friends to interact, but it has also allowed players to find or catch up with internet friends.

The game has helped Nataly Barrientos, an 18-year-old senior in high school, socialize and connect with new online friends. 

“I’ve made online friends by just commenting on their posts or sharing ideas for island concepts. We stick together because we know that it may be irritating for the rest of our friends who don’t have Animal Crossing to  listen to our rambles about talking animals.” Barrientos said.

Animal Crossing has a feature in which you can share a unique code. The code allows players to visit each other’s islands. Once on the islands, players can share items. People post their code on social media to make friends or to share items. The art design concept of the game attracts players. Animal Crossing allows players to customize almost anything on their island from clothes, furniture, and the floor of your town.

“I consider myself to be someone who needs a creative outlet to keep myself sane,” Barrientos said.

In her free time, Barrientos draws and paints. 

“Animal Crossing allows me to spur my creativity, in a way. Not only that, but it helps me take my mind off of the anxiety of what our current situation is,” Barrientos said.  

Animal Crossing’s open-ended design allows players to immerse themselves in their own world. Players are using Animal Crossing as coping mechanisms.

“As someone who suffers from a bipolar disorder, Animal Crossing has helped me in my depressed stages and has helped any aspects of boredom, which for me often leads to depressive symptoms,” Vargas said

Animal Crossing has not been the only social simulation game/multiplayer game that has been helping entertain and distracts people during self-quarantine, other games such as Sims 4 by EA has even reduced their price in order to keep people entertained, reducing their price to 5 dollars from 39.99 dollars a full 88 percent.

“The video game industry is extremely trendy and on top of things. They are fully aware of what’s going on. It’s smart on their part,” Hickey Jr said.

Putting video games on sale encourages players to follow social distancing guidelines. 

In these stressful times, it is important to take care of one another. If that means finding comfort through a video game where you owe money to a raccoon dog, so be it.