YvoCaro Plays: Animal Crossing Helps Mental Health

Welcome to another YvoCaro Plays!

As always, these blurbs are mainly about the video games I’m currently playing. Unedited thoughts spring up in my mind, mostly game-related, sometimes not. Or a random train of thoughts starting with the game and ending somewhere completely different!

If you like these bits of gaming thoughts, you can find the previous ones here.

Catching Up with Old Friends

The reason I took up blogging about games over nine years ago was the feeling that I couldn’t talk about my favourite hobby in real life. Sure, my family and a few close friends were always willing to listen. But there are only so many times that you want to bring up how amazing a game you’re playing is. Let’s face it, even for them, it got boring sometimes. Outside of my little circle, it wasn’t a topic I brought up. Blogging about it and reaching like-minded people was the way to go for me. I could jabber on and on about video games and see what it turned into: this amazing site.

Nowadays, I am more open to co-workers or friends about the hobbies that give me energy: playing games and running LadiesGamers. And although some people politely express their surprise at me having a hobby that surely is for youngsters, others try to see the appeal.

Last week I was out to dinner with high school friends. Each of us is nearing our 60th birthday, but we still keep in touch every year. As you do, we caught up on our respective families, work and holiday plans for this year. They asked me if I had watched this or that series on Netflix, to which I replied I didn’t have the time: my nights are often claimed for working on the site or doing some gaming. None of them are gamers, so it was nice that they asked what my all-time favourite game was. Animal Crossing, of course!

Animal Crossing New Horizons bridge

But when they asked me to tell them what the game entailed, I was at a loss for an answer. Have you ever described Animal Crossing? I said: “Well, you live on an island, with animals for neighbours. You can talk to them, decorate your house, plant flowers, and collect special kinds of furniture. You can fish, catch insects…pretty much lead your virtual life as you see fit, with no goals or pressure”  Somehow, though, saying that, it sounded pretty lame.

How To Explain Animal Crossing To a Non-Gamer

It got me thinking. How can you explain the amazingness of Animal Crossing to someone? How can you explain that the bunch of pixels that you call your neighbours have their own quirks and characteristics? That you even, after abandoning your island, check in from time to time just to say hello?

That when I walk outside in the sunshine, I feel I have to capture the butterfly I see fluttering around with my net. Or when I see an air balloon and wonder if I can shoot it down for a present? Or when I saw my first durian at the Asian market, I excitedly pointed it out to my husband, telling him I could plant trees with it in the game (well, in New Leaf at least).

Some people might argue that I’m addicted, but there’s another way to look at it. Animal Crossing actually teaches us valuable lessons and brings positivity into our lives. For example, it shows us the happiness that comes from giving things, like presents, to our in-game villagers. It also teaches us the importance of pursuing goals, even when unnecessary, because it feels good in the end to pay off our virtual house mortgage or work on special projects on our island. And let’s not forget the joy of being greeted by cheerful islanders who are always happy to see us!

Best Summer Themed Games to Play in Summer Ladies Gamers

Benefits of Playing Animal Crossing

Pondering this, I researched on the internet and found a lot of articles about playing Animal Crossing and its benefits. This one, on Healthline, is one that is a very interesting read:

Animal Crossing Mental Health Lessons

On one thing, they all agreed: playing video games can have a positive effect on the brain, or so scientists and researchers say. And Animal Crossing: New Horizons can be considered one of the most popular examples of this. The game provides us with a sense of routine. Even without a real goal, there are daily activities that you can do. There are colourful, friendly characters to which you get attached. You can pore in as much creativity as you want, and it just oozes positivity. Things that are important for our mental well-being.

Longtime fans of Animal Crossing already knew all of this, of course, but due to the timing of the release of New Horizons, it drew in a far bigger audience. Released on March 20th 2020, at the start of the COVID pandemic, it came at the right time. With real life coming to a standstill and a feeling of uncertainty to cope with, it provided a safe haven while being cooped up at home. It made us feel in control, creating and maintaining our world just as we liked it.

I stumbled on this discussion on Reddit, a really interesting read, with people who wholeheartedly agree and others who aren’t as sure.

Does AC help you? ❤️
by u/ladyburgerandcatnap in AnimalCrossing

Expect a Survey

I’m sure, though, Animal Crossing isn’t the only game to have such qualities. Games that provide a good outlet and help you cope with real life. And I’m guessing it’s not just wholesome games that have that effect. Games that let you vent some stress by bashing buttons can no doubt be very therapeutic too.

This is why you can expect a Survey on LadiesGamers shortly to hear your opinion. What game does the trick for you? Which is the one you turn to to escape? And what game helped, when you’re mental health took a turn for the worse?

Think about it; pretty soon, the Survey will be on LadiesGamers!



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