Animal Crossing: New Horizons is helping some people who suffer from depression as a “Seratonin Factory.”
Animal Crossing: New Horizons is opening up a discussion about mental health. For many people, video games provide a comfortable distraction or escape from reality. Those using gaming as a sort of therapy are often warned against getting too immersed and using games as a way to avoid dealing with real issues negatively impacting their lives. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic currently sweeping the globe, though, gamers seem to have a significant advantage as countries have entered lockdown and asked their population to remain indoors.
Staying at home for long periods of time? Check, socially distancing from friends and family for days, even weeks? Check, spending obscene amounts of time staring at a tv screen or monitor? Check. It’s almost as if for a large part of their lives, gamers have been training for this very moment.
Whatever the relationship between gaming and mental health, it is becoming a topic more openly discussed and talked about in various gaming communities but none more so than Nintendo’s Animal Crossing: New Horizons. The relaxing social simulation game released on March 20 and much has been made of this coincidental (and profitable) timing. Many people who would only identify themselves as “part-time recreational gamers” have helped drive up the sales of the popular Nintendo Switch title resulting in a very large gaming community all with more time than usual on their hands to play.
With its reassuring aesthetics and chilled out soundtrack it’s no wonder that Animal Crossing makes for easy playing, with the only stress being the ever-present threat of stumbling across a wasp’s nest or being chased down by a tarantula. Of course, in real life, these events themselves could be rather alarming, but in the fluffy marshmallow world of Animal Crossing, even these angry beasties look cute and have a certain appeal (when viewed safely behind the museum glass, of course). But the point remains; Animal Crossing: New Horizons is a great place to lose yourself and forget the stresses of the real world.
As part of Mental Health Awareness Week (May 18 onwards), streamers and well-known players of Animal Crossing have been praising its positive impact on mental health. One YouTuber labeled the game as a “Serotonin Factory” and another Twitch streamer, who often speaks openly about living with depression, praised the franchise for helping them to “feel something more than just nothingness” on a daily basis. Of course, this won’t be the experience of every player and mental health itself is something that is unique to each and every person. However, it’s great that the online community is able to open up and explore difficult and sometimes upsetting issues through the medium of gaming.
If you’re looking for a welcome distraction from the ongoing madness of the outside world, or even if the boredom of isolation is starting to sting; it may be time to pay Tom Nook a visit on your very own island paradise.
What do you think? Have you experienced anything like this? Has Animal Crossing helped you or a friend in this way? Tell us below!