Since the COVID-19 pandemic, many have felt the stresses caused by the current situation that includes anxiety caused by a lack of seeing friends, the stresses of human interaction, and most-of-all, something relaxing to help distract us. Here’s how one gift has been a blessing in disguise.
It’s quiet, I’ve been sitting on the beach outside of my home for nearly an hour at the firepit, watching fish swim about while soft flames crackle from the burning wood, the stone seat hard against my rump while the soft cool ocean sprayed winds blow across my face. I was stung by a bee earlier, even had to visit the hills just over yonder in order to yank some weeds in order to make the medicine I needed in order to cure the stings I’d received.
I’m sure my eye still hurts, but I’ll worry about that later. I’m happy here, in my digital island, a place not affected by the problems our reality is actually facing. I’ve caught several dozen fish, ate a healthy share of fruit, and I’ve even made friends with a tiger that I’m pretty sure is questionable about how he handles business. I don’t mind though, I’ve opted not to purchase anything from him and save my bells for home decore.
When it comes to reality though, COVID-19 has hit me hard. I lost work since March 14th as someone who is of high-risk status and living in a home of high-risk people with one person being a cancer survivor, who also provides healthcare to a high-risk patient on a ventilator, while the other is high risk due to lung-based ailments. Within a few weeks, my mental health took a nose-dive, hitting rock bottom quicker than it could.
My solace has been my time in Nintendo’s somehow, relaxing, but entertaining spice-of-life title, Animal Crossing: New Horizon, a game that asks little of its players in order for them to relax and have a bit of fun. Since its release, I’ve put a questionable amount of time into the game whether I’ve played with my online account or not, sometimes opting for the not part so that I can play without feeling as if I’ve committed a crime due to my playtime exceeding somewhere over 120 hours on one profile and somewhere around 30 on the other.
However, it’s because of this game, I’ve had a chance to reconnect with my dear friend Shannon, my pal Chris, and even myself, in some ways or another. I’ve even had friends let me visit their islands, taking scenic walks through their museums, aquariums, houses, and even their island itself. In some ways, it’s been the perfect coping mechanism, allowing me to experience my friends, but without actually having them there. While it’s not as nice as seeing the person you are talking to, there’s still a lot of fun to be had.
We’ve fished, we’ve laughed, we’ve taken strolls along the beach, we’ve gone around seeing who can avoid being stung by bees for a honeycomb and even had a bit of fun trying to catch insects just because we could. It’s like being a kid again, going back to the days of where we had very little worries or concerns. The only worry we had: Making sure our Nintendo Switch’s was charged and or plugged in during our adventures.
But how does that make this game a perfect gift? Well, you see, I had posted on Facebook about it, having done a rarity in sharing my mental health states, how I’m doing, and updates about my best four-legged friends battles with cancer while I’m out of work. I’m a contractor, a high-risk person, so I’ve been doing my best to stay as far away from others as I can. Taking only small trips to the store for necessities before scurrying on back home.
In order to ensure my bills were paid (finally credit card free), I had posted I was looking to sell my copy of Super Mario Maker 2. Not that I wanted to get rid of it, but I needed something relaxing; something happy; something that didn’t make my anxiety spike if I made one wrong jump or ran into one of Bowser’s minions. That’s when Kyle, a friend of mine I have all the love and happiness in the world for, sent me a message I had not expected.
He wanted to provide me with a copy of the game, a small token of his kindness, which I’m forever thankful for and have continued doing the same for others in whatever way I can. Since his act of kindness, I’ve found some form of solitude with putting on my headphones, leaning back in my chair or on my floor, and turning on some lo-fi beats in order to relax even further as I play – no not play – escape.
Perhaps, in many ways, this game is the very title Nintendo Switch fans needed due to the pandemic, a game that serves as more than just a game, but rather, a form of therapy for those needing to relax and forget their worries and or their problems for just a little while.
For what it’s worth, Animal Crossing: New Horizons is the gift that keeps on giving, a gift I never knew we really needed until it was added to my digital library and I’ve become lost for hours on end, sometimes, happily dozing off as I play. Perhaps, it’s your turn as well, my fellow villager. Now, if you’ll excuse me, there’s some fish nearby, and I’m wanting to watch the last few minutes of day fade away as the sun begins to rise.
Editor’s note: This piece does not reflect Blast Away the Game Review as a whole, and is solely an opinion of their own and is a form of self-expression or opinion of the writers. For more information about our Ethics Policy, please click here for more information.
About the Writer(s):
Dustin is our native video game reviewer who has an appetite for anything that crosses the borders from across the big pond. His interest in JRPG’s, Anime, Handheld Gaming, and Pizza is insatiable. You can find him over on Twitter or Facebook where he interacts with his followers quite a bit!