Animal Crossing a Threshold
I didn't want to write this blog. That's why it's late. Instead, and strangely what I didn't expect, was that I'd rather be playing Animal Crossing right now. I'm only three entries into this consistent blogging thing and even though I have a lot left to learn, I can safely assume that stating you don't want to write it is probably somewhere in the top five list of Don'ts in blogging. Luckily, this blog isn't guided by such lists and notions so I will reiterate, I'd rather be playing Animal Crossing right now.
I never expected to fall so hard for this game, and yet it's consumed so much of my waking thoughts. Over exaggerating? Only a little, but I've dreamt about this game. I rarely dream. I've woken up with my immediate thoughts being filled with excitement to see which new things have appeared on my island. My day is spent anticipating the moment I get to check and see if I've received any in-game mail and items sent from friends. I get so giddy visiting other friend's islands or having them come over to mine, despite there being almost nothing to do once you're together in a session. I have played this game at least an hour a day since I bought it which is coming up on two weeks now. It's no exaggeration to say I've spent more time playing this game, then the total hours spent playing anything else this year.
I still find myself questioning what it is about this game that resonates with me when I've been so vehemently out of sync with any other games in a similar genre. I've never been one for character creation or any sort of custom creations for that matter. I've never been one to be guided by the dopamine effect of checking off simple daily tasks for virtual rewards and fake currency. I've never been compelled to spend my game time collecting useless collectibles, a subset of which requires fishing. It's pretty well documented how much I hate fishing in games, but as is the reoccurring theme in this piece, Animal Crossing unexpectedly broke through that threshold. (For those wondering, the moment this blog post is done I'll be spending the rest of my evening hours attempting to catch a Stringfish before it goes out of season.)
Animal Crossing is an amalgamation of all the things I never expected. It's coming at a time where so many unexpected curve balls have been thrown around the world. It's coming at a time when the world's playbook has been thrown out the window and every one of us is having to adapt on the fly to a global pandemic. I never expected the plans I made earlier this year to be so quickly and dramatically upended and in some cases leave me wondering when I'd see loved ones again or what the state of the world would be when we got there. I didn't expect to stress over the simplest tasks for fear of endangering myself or those around me. I didn't expect that despite the weight of my anxieties, that it would be a drop in the bucket compared to what friends and family going above and beyond in their respective fields to help keep the world moving are dealing with. Friends and family whose work is deemed essential and therefore carry on in a world where six feet of distance and no contact with each other is now the standard. I'm just a child masquerading as an adult, whose only superpower is remaining optimistic, but in a world that feels so damn heavy right now, it's hard not to be taken aback by the existential gasp of uncertainty. I've wrestled with whether or not putting these fears out there was even worth posting, but we're living through a world-changing moment right now, and whether or not I'll look back on this entry with regret, it felt important to document what I'm feeling right now.
The mountain always feels insurmountable until we're on the other side. Despite all my fears and my worries, I've been able to reason out that I'm only in control of doing at least three things. Staying informed. Practicing good hygiene and safe habits. Remaining kind. The world feels devoid of hope right now, and it's easy to get swept up in the various degrees at which this pandemic has been such a crushing blow to so many, and in ways that have yet to play out, and in ways that I, probably in my naivety, don't understand. But, I do know that hope never dies as long as we remain kind.
In the meantime, I'll be playing Animal Crossing. I hope you find your Animal Crossing too.
Streamer, writer, creator. One day I woke up painfully aware of my existence and I've been apologizing for it ever since.