How Games Like Animal Crossing Secretly Battle Depression

(Sterling Nicole Bennett) With World Mental Health Day approaching on October 10th and the recent announcement of the Nintendo Switch addition to the Animal Crossing franchise, it seems like the perfect time to dive into the topic of maintaining the balance between life and virtual worlds.

Related Is Virtual Reality a Paradise or Mental Biohazard?

by Sterling Nicole Bennett, September 25th, 2018

Animal Crossing’s peaceful soundtrack gently encourages the mind to release all worries and fall in love with the atmosphere. Hit play on the music below to enhance your reading experience.


Endless Emersion

The world of Animal Crossing provides you with a breathtaking escape to a virtual town filled with over 300 rotating lovable anthropomorphic villagers plus a multitude of relaxing activities in which to participate.

“Sometimes I write my villagers letters about things that are stressing or depressing me and just being able to write it out and then send it off into the abyss helps get the weight off my shoulders.”Reddit User

In Animal Crossing, there is no linear storyline. There is always something new to do depending on the time of day, due to the use of a real-time clock. Without a limitation to a fixed storyline, the game can last forever. Unlike the real world, in Animal Crossing you are in control and are free to do as you please.

Animal Crossing is designed to play in short, fun, and casual bursts. It gives you small tasks that will only take up 20 minutes of your time and will leave you hungry for more. You might find yourself starting up the game, clearing some weeds from your garden, catching a few fish, and earning a few Bells before carrying on with your day. Then, coming back later to go on a nice boat ride and play minigames with online friends on a faraway tropical island.


Memories that Create Nostalgia

My best friend introduced me to Animal Crossing Wild World in 2005. We were both in middle school at the time. For us, the magic of this game extended beyond the traditional fruit picking and bug collecting due to the miracle of WIFI.

The Nintendo DS’s ability to connect to the internet via WIFI provided an avenue for us to play our favorite game together from anywhere. No longer were we limited to only seeing each other when our parents allowed us to go to each other’s houses. Now, I could invite my friends to my virtual town in Animal Crossing whenever I wanted.

We started to play Animal Crossing with the neighborhood kids, forming a small club. For hours we would trade items, plant flowers, and help each other’s towns flourish. We began competing to see who could design the best shirts and collect the most Bells. It was a haven. This gift of connection with friends outside of school saved our sanity and provided a distraction from the stress that our young middle school lives held.

The Animal Crossing series has helped so many through tough times, some giving credit to Animal Crossing for assisting them to get out of their deepest depressions.


“Animal Crossing’s “just do you” environment can create a safe space for those coping with mental illness.” – Jackson Ingram

” I will always recommend animal crossing as a stress reliever. I have high anxiety which also causes me to have trouble breathing, and used to struggle with depression. Animal crossing has always helped me feel calm and happier in general. If i’m feeling particularly stressed or anxious, I’ll set aside time to sit in my bed with some big soft blankets, a hot cup of tea and animal crossing. So soothing. I can breathe easy and recharge my mind with happy thoughts. :)” – Reddit User

” I suffer from anxiety and depression, and like everyone else have good and bad days. It’s manageable most of the time, and you have ways of working around it like meditating or taking a walk. But for years I’ve also turned to video games as an escape, and most notably the Animal Crossing series.” -Thuy Ong, The Verge.

“I have OCD, slight depression, high anxiety. I like animal crossing not only because it distracts me from my uncontrollable thoughts but also because it is low stress and I can control it, and I don’t have to worry about defeating bosses like in a regular game, which would always make me upset or unsettle me.” –Reddit User


Turning Over a New Leaf

Animal Crossing New Leaf released in North America on June 9, 2013, providing fans of the series with a fresh new 3D look for the game. Now, instead of merely being a villager, each player starts the game off as the mayor of your town which comes with a whirlwind of new activities.

“Animal Crossing provided something I desperately needed during that time, but that I otherwise would never have given myself: a break.” –Paul Tamburro

As an adult, I did not have as much time as I wanted to play New Leaf when it was released. At the time, I was working at an incredibly high-stress job. Obsessing over the release of the game with the beautiful community on reddit gave me much-needed freedom from my increasingly stressful environment. Even without having time to immerse fully, the hype and nostalgia of the game were more than enough to help me through that rough time.

“I struggle with depression and anxiety… quite badly to be honest. I’ve been playing Animal Crossing since the GC version. I love these games. When I feel at my lowest, losing myself in a few hours of play time helps me clear my head and feel a bit better. The villagers being happy to see you, getting letters from them, getting a little gift from your Mom or Dad, molding your town and your house to a vision you have… It really helps. For a few hours, you can listen to some cute music and run around a town where the biggest problem might be someone needing a peach or apple. Everything gets left behind, and I love that.” –Reddit User

“I am an extremely anxious person and I use it as an escape. It’s kind of like picking up a book for other people. It’s so simple and happy and that makes me happy.” –Reddit User

Fans worldwide rejoiced at the surprise announcement of Animal Crossing for Nintendo Switch set to be released 6 years after New Leaf. I was in shock when Nintendo surprised the world with the publication in their September Direct. The release of these nostalgic, family-oriented titles encourages the consumer to take a step back from their lives and consider a peaceful staycation.

The excitement shared by Animal Crossing fans across the internet has been incredible. Look how excited everyone is!

“Animal Crossing sets up the expectation of punishment and guilt for your negligence. But what is always revealed is a world with endless forgiveness and kindness. Your village will always take you back, and they don’t hate you. They’re just glad you’re finally home.” -Alexis Dalbey, KillScreen

Having a whole world at your fingertips that promises nothing but love no matter how long you neglect the inhabitants is an amazing tool to battle the self-deprecating cycle of anxiety and depression. No matter how bad things might get, you always have a home in Animal Crossing.




Game Revolution




About The Author

Sterling Nicole Bennetta writer for Divine Frequency and a millennial on a mission to shine a light on the astral world, was born with a vivid pre-birth memory. She continues to experience frequent astral encounters involving interdimensional portals, repeating simulations, departed family members, and more. Her goal is to help others discover the keys they need to unlock their door to the astral plane. Sterling believes to understand the astral plane truly; you must experience the magic for yourself. She hopes to help bridge the gap between mainstream depictions of the astral realms and the truth of what is out there.

This article appeared first on Divine Frequency.

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