I’m very grateful that I have a Nintendo Switch during this quarantine. Ring Fit Adventure, which is sold out now, gives me a solid and fun option to exercise at home. And most recently, Animal Crossing has become a social hub for me and my friends.
It’s truly lovely. The weather in the game, even on rainy days, feels calm and peaceful. Everything bounces and flexes like Disney animation and just looks so round and cute (except maybe the tarantulas). There’s also so much personality. I’ve never felt this much character from NPC’s in any simulation games. My neighbors will get confused if you enter their house and leave without saying hi. They will get frustrated if you say you will give them a gift but “never mind” instead. They wear the clothes you buy for them, and return favors once in a while. They are stingy to donate to community projects, while Tom Nook is ruthlessly capitalist and is constantly trying to get me in debt. It’s so real, and so much to be amused by!
But most importantly, the entire island is both a self-expression and a social hub. Yesterday, two of my friends and I took turns visiting each other’s islands. We talked and laughed over a voice channel, and just goofed around on each other’s island. We showed off what we caught, walked through tips, got envious of new items somebody received, and frolicked on the beach like some romcom anime characters. Each island can host up to 8 players at once, so I’ll definitely try to host some island parties that way.
At a time when there’s not much you can do and yet so much to worry about, we can feel so powerless. But if we have each other, at least we remember that we are in this together. Take a look online, heartwarming reunion stories fill the Animal Crossing communities. Even graduations and weddings are happening here. But even during normal times, which is hopefully not too distant in the future, I can see how Animal Crossing can bring together friends many time zones apart in new and meaningful ways. This shared visual and audio experience in virtual world full of possibilities couldn’t have come at a better time.