Animal Crossing’s latest game “New Horizons” came out on the Nintendo Switch at just the right time for many Penn State students. Now, they are able to pass their time in quarantine by expanding their islands and visiting friends virtually.
Justiss Reihart has played every iteration of Animal Crossing, which was initially created in 2001. However, Reihart (freshman - theatre studies) said she wouldn’t have bought “New Horizons” on release day, because she would have been too busy with classwork at Penn State. With nowhere to be, Reihart was able to purchase “New Horizons” and begin playing immediately.
“Animal Crossing is mostly the only thing I’m doing [now],” Reihart said. “There’s so much to do [in the game] when there’s nothing to do.”
Reihart spends a lot of time playing the game with friends, as Animal Crossing allows players to cross islands to interact with one another. The feature has allowed Reihart to stay connected with people she once saw every day as they fish and trade items on each others’ islands.
“It’s kind of a way to be with your friends without actually being together,” Reihart said, explaining that her friends schedule specific times to meet up on the game.
Kelly McGarrey believes “New Horizons” had perfect timing for her as well. McGarrey (freshman - division of undergraduate studies) said she wouldn’t have had the time to play as much if classes were continuing in person, though McGarrey has waited for its release since the previous game, “New Leaf.”
For McGarrey, Animal Crossing is a unique pastime, because it’s difficult to get tired of. In fact, McGarrey said she began playing “New Leaf” because she was bored one day.
“You can’t really beat it. There’s no end goal,” McGarrey said. “You can practically do whatever you want.”
Rather, Animal Crossing is primarily focused on players building an island from scratch by building various buildings and inviting other villagers to explore.
McGarrey described Animal Crossing as “peaceful” in the midst of a transition to online learning and self quarantining across the country.
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Reese Williams agrees that Animal Crossing has been “relaxing,” as it gives him an outlet away from news surrounding the coronavirus. Williams (freshman - architectural engineering) said the game has also allowed him to find structure and normalcy in his life.
Many professors have decided to hold classes via Zoom, which allows a loose schedule for students to follow. However, it has been difficult for some to remain focused and on task in the comfort of their homes.
Williams said Animal Crossing has allowed him to take back some of the control he has over his time. He explained Animal Crossing is a time-specific game, meaning that specific tasks are only allowed at certain times of the day. According to Williams, this keeps him conscious of his schedule, setting it apart from other activities he has been doing in his free time.
“I can go and watch a movie or play a board game with my family whenever we want, but Animal Crossing has a schedule to adhere to, which can make it more rewarding,” Williams said.
Reihart said the game has given her freedom instead. With limited places to go outside at the risk of becoming ill, Reihart said Animal Crossing has become a substitute for her time outdoors.
“It’s kind of like a replacement for the outside at the moment,” Reihart said.
For anyone trapped in boredom at home, many students recommend they invest their time and money in “Animal Crossing.” McGarrey described the game as “well worth its money, especially in the quarantine.”
Williams said Animal Crossing offers many different ways to play, making it fun for anyone looking for something to pass the time.
"Some people will like customizing their island, or finding the perfect villagers, while others will enjoy taking trips to random islands,” Williams said. “There's many avenues for people to explore the game in their own way.”