On Finding Joy In ‘Animal Crossing: New Horizons’

For the first time in a long time, you are excited to wake up in the morning again.

More than that, you are suddenly fine with the idea of starting your day as early as 5:00 AM, so you can run to your mailbox. In it, there are letters from neighbors and friends from faraway lands waiting for you. Some of them come with gifts, too. There are also goodies mailed to you by your go-to online shop.

Most importantly, your house has been renovated again. This is the nth time you’re doing it this week, but who cares? Loans are interest-free, so you can mindlessly say yes to all of them without having to worry about ending up on the streets in the near future.

Even if you suck at the Stalk Market, you’ll always be fine. Lost some money last week after letting your turnips spoil? Stop whining and spend more time catching bugs or fish! Here, all your hard work will eventually pay off.

Because nothing can really go wrong here, you always look forward to all your daily tasks. Besides collecting bugs and fish, you are also fond of shaking trees because sometimes they drop money and furniture for you to keep. Even if you get stung by wasps, it’s okay. You can easily purchase medicine from the nearby shop or simply conjure some using materials that are readily available around you.

See? Things will be fine again in just an instant. Remember, you are in a place where there’s a solution to every problem. And there are plenty of texts online to guide you. Life does not suck here.

Unfortunately, though, it’s not for real. It’s “Animal Crossing: New Horizons” (ANCH)!

It’s already been a week since I created my own “ACNH” account, and I still can’t believe how much time and energy I have devoted to it. I had never really taken a game so seriously in the past until I began playing this. I got into “GTA” during my freshman days in college over a decade ago, but I wasn’t committed to it the way I am committing to this new game. In fact, the only reason why I paid attention to “GTA” was that I thought punching and running over random people on the street were cool things to do virtually. I never bothered to complete any missions.

Now, here I am. In less than a week, I managed to have my home remodeled three times. I earned over a million Bells, some of which have already been invested in the Stalk Market. I own a decent number of furniture and clothes and I have a great relationship with my neighbors.

I have thousands of Nook Miles, too, which I can use to explore mystery islands. I have also contributed a number of fish, bugs, and fossils to the museum!

Suddenly, life is exciting. And, in a time we’re currently in, who would not love having something to look forward to? Who wouldn’t kill for having more reasons to wake up the next morning?

I know my fascination with “ACNH” has a lot to do with my current disappointment and frustration with everything taking place around me, especially here in the Philippines where uncertainty always looms. But I guess I am fine with that. I am aware that it’s kind of escapist, even delusional. Who cares? Each of us copes differently, and this is how I do it.

Also, it makes me happy. Now I understand why some would get so invested in a game, as though their happiness depended on it. For real, games such as this one can really make people happy. It has given me hope in a time when everything seems so dark, and I will always be grateful for it.

Yet, of course, I won’t deny that the game itself is amazing. I would have fallen in love with it even if we weren’t dealing with isolation. I think it’s just perfect for me.

Finally, I have found a game I understand and like. It is also something I can play at my pace. It is both demanding and not, plus it’s really cute. I know I have a lot more to learn about it, and I’ve yet to do millions of things to help our island prosper. And I am up for it.

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