When I saw that there was a section on the site for Animal Crossing memories, I couldn’t help but want to add my own. As a long-time fan, I’ve come to love this game franchise not only for its charm and story mechanics, but for the escape it has given me time and time again from real-life struggles and emotional/mental trauma.
But before we get into the nitty-gritty, let’s talk about where it all started.
Where it all Started
Growing up an Army brat, I traveled from state to state every 2 years. I learned that when it came to making friends, I couldn’t be shy and most often made the first move towards friendship. This ideology stuck with me while living in upstate New York as well, and I quickly became friends with my next door neighbor. I was 10 years old at the time, so we often played with Bratz dolls and watched movies together.
But one day, her older brother had gotten a GameCube and was going on and on about his new obsession. I had only played some Mario 64 and Yoshi’s Story a few times on my Nintendo 64 by this point so I wouldn’t call myself a gamer just yet. But the moment we walked down to the game room in their basement and I saw Animal Crossing on the TV screen, everything changed. From that day on, I was a gamer.
Not only had I basically taken over my friend’s GameCube the following days, doing whatever her older brother would let me get away with on his play file, but soon after I had asked my dad for a GameCube and recited a monologue of an explanation as to why Animal Crossing was the best thing ever. My dad (always a gamer and into WoW at the time) didn’t hesitate to get me something that symbolized a shared passion between us.
Animal Crossing: Population Growing for the GameCube not only became my favorite game, with its simple day-to-day activities and having a sense of responsibility for a few animals’ happiness, but it became a way for me to escape. Every day after school I would come home and play this game. Going down the list of my daily chores, I’d dig up fossils, fish, talk to my villagers (I’ll never get over how great and original this version’s dialogue was) and write letters.
Time Flies, But The Game Keeps Up
As years came and went, I would move and with that came growing distant from friends. But each time I set up my GameCube in a new house and loaded up my town, my villagers were still there. If I became busy and felt like things were out of my control, I would log back on after awhile and my villagers would ask me where I’ve been and if I’m alright. Their personalities and friendships, no matter how fictional, were comforting to me and always found a way to relax me.
Then I grew up.
Each new Animal Crossing I had to pick up, no matter where I was or how old I had gotten. The connection to this game was strong enough to not only make me a loyal fan, but step into other games along the years. I remember finding out that I would be able to play Animal Crossing on the go when Wild World for the DS was announced and put so many hours into that game it’s almost mind-boggling.
Then the Wii Version came out and I discovered online-play and met so many people through the game. These times were great, with Animal Crossing continuing to be my go-to game.
An Escape From Real Life
Once New Leaf was released I was about to graduate from high school and move onto college. Little did I know that the next year would be the hardest year of my life. As things got harder for me in real life, New Leaf became an escape. When I would feel panic or out of control of my emotions, I would turn on the game, take a breath and escape. I can’t begin to express how many times this game has helped me battle anxiety and (at one point) depression. Whatever I was feeling or what happened, my villagers were there for me. All of my Animal Crossing memories have been happy ones and for that I can say this game has brought me nothing but joy.
As of Today
My memories continue today, as this game continues to be a safe place for my mind. I’m grateful for the developers and creative minds behind Animal Crossing, for they’ve done more for me than they know. As years go by, I will continue to fish, water flowers, talk to animals and tell others about the joy through simplicity this game brings.
Thank you for reading, and happy gaming!
(Don’t mind my feels… this game gets me going!)
Thank you Jenna for this post. Being someone that’s prone to suffer from anxiety and depression, it was good to read how someone else can use video games as a means of therapy. Animal Crossing is such a relaxing and pleasurable game. Are you looking forward to the Switch version in 2019?
Thank you! I’m glad I could share and that you could relate. It’s definitely a great way of coping, and there’s many articles on the topic actually regarding gaming and its relation to aiding in mental health. I can link some if you are interested!
As for the Switch version, I FREAKED out when they announced it. I feel like I’ve been waiting for the day we get an Animal Crossing on Switch since I picked it up day one; and that’s because I HAVE! I’m beyond excited. Since its a mainline title, we can only go up from here.
Same here, Jenna. Jonah and I watched the Nintendo E3 back in June together ( virtually that is, as we are many many miles apart) and he can testify at how angry and disappointed I was at the fact that it was practically all about Smash Bros. I was constantly expecting an AC announcement!