May 6th: Animal Crossing New Horizons
So there I was…
Taking Katy to work. She’s an essential worker, going in every day during this pandemic. It’s not easy, it’s not fun, but she’s trudging through it to provide an essential service to newborns in medical center and make sure they are healthy enough to go home. I drive her to and from work most days. I wanted to surprise her with something fun, something that will help her enjoy her weekend, forget about the worries of the world, and sink into a world bound by building a community and making friends. Just a way to say thanks for all the hard work she’s doing during this uncertain time.
She came home from work one Friday evening (I was in my online class) and found a note for a scavenger hunt. I sent her on a trip around the house to find her present, and I’m proud to say that I actually stumped her for a bit there! With a little searching, she found…
I’ve never dabbled in the world of Animal Crossing before, but the hype surrounding the game was unreal. Gamers and non-gamers alike were clamoring for it’s release. We’d played a similar game together and it was a fun shared experience, so I bought us two copies so we could start building our island getaways together.
For those who have heard of the craze but have yet to take the dive, Animal Crossing New Horizons is a life sim game that tosses you on a deserted island and gives you the challenge of building it up into a thriving community. You start with a tent and a cot, and eventually build up into a multi-story house. You can create an orchard, plant a flower garden, invite new villagers to live on the island with you, create designs for your flags and clothes, and visit your real life friends’ islands. You can spend time catching fish and bugs for your museum, go hunting for fossils, craft furniture for your house or island, build bridges, design inclines, and much much more.
But that’s just a fraction of what the game is. One of the most endearing parts about the game is the charming characters and the relationships you build with your villagers. Each one has their own quirks, characteristics, verbal cues, and even a different ways of saying hello. The beauty of the experience is that my island can be fully developed with ten villagers, and Katy’s island can have ten completely different villagers. One of my villagers is Billy, a billy goat jock who spends his time jogging around my island and making sure I’m working out. Gabi wants to be a musician, Avery is an old soul looking for a place to lay down his wings and relax, and Shari likes to sing by the pond outside her house. Each day is different, but each day I work to make my island a better place for my villagers to live on. And while my goals are the same as my friends playing, my experience is unique to me, and their experience is unique to them.
What I find as the most enjoyable part of the game is the sense of community that has been built with my friends who are also playing the game. When Katy and I moved to NorCal, we knew that staying in touch with all our friends was going to be a challenge. This game, this silly little Nintendo game, has helped us to strengthen the bonds with our friends and meet some new ones along the way. We’ve had a blast traveling to each other’s islands, exploring all four corners for inspiration and helping build them up. One of my friends helped get me a bunch of foreign fruits so I can have one tree of each on my island, and with their help I have been able to pay that kindness forward to others! And that’s just one small part of the game. We’ve had dance parties in peoples’ houses, explored their museums, played hide-and-seek, and knocked each other on the head with our bug-catching nets.
There is so much to this game that I have yet to explore, and that fills me with so much joy. Each day is a new adventure! We can craft fun designs for our clothes, hunt down new bugs for our museum, or sit around the campfire. Maybe it’s because the shelter-in-place restricts us from doing most of those things, but the fact that a silly little video game has allowed us to spend time together, to bring us together, is truly magical during a time where the world is struggling.
I bought the game for Katy as a way to have some fun during the weekends when I was in my class, and for us to have silly little date nights to hold us over until we are able to go to a park or museum. Little did I know how much fun we would actually have with Animal Crossing New Horizons.
Thanks for reading!