Animal Crossing New Horizons: Social Distancing and Mental Health



Yes Yes! After seven years, Nintendo is finally releasing a main line Animal Crossing title. The game, which was initially slated for release in 2019 but was later delayed to 2020, is the latest main title in the series following “Animal Crossing: New Leaf,” which was released in North America in June 2013. In “New Horizons,” players escape to an island (courtesy of a business-raccoon, Tom Nook) where they have the ability to interact with villagers on their island as well as invite real-life friends to visit. The game is a life simulator, where you get to fish, catch bugs and collect various pieces of furniture. It is a very laid back game, where you can take things at your own pace. 

The topic of the new coronavirus and COVID-19, has been spreading throughout our communities and we are hearing a lot about, “self quarantine,” “social distancing,” and “flattening the curve.” What do these words actually mean? 

It might be disappointing to hear that many community events are being cancelled. These cancellations can help stop or slow down the spread of the disease. ‘Social distancing’ is increasing the space between people to avoid spreading illness. CDC states, staying at least six feet away from other people lessens your chances of catching COVID-19. People who have been exposed to the new coronavirus might practice ‘self quarantine,’ which can last up to 14 days. Two weeks provides enough time for people to know whether or not they will become ill and be contagious to other people. 


Animal Crossing trains players to be patient, as stores in game close at night as they do in real life, and fish and insects sometimes resist capture. Its bright characters and peaceful vacation setting help provide a change of scenery. As more people begin to play the game, an online feature allows you to visit friends’ islands, making it possible for players in real life to connect to each other. It could be a way for people to connect online during social distancing.

Despite the stigma video games have regarding accusations of making people violent, there are a lot of video games that many have found help them relax and cope with their everyday lives.  While Animal Crossing has always been a series people have played to unwind after a stressful day, fans realized how profound an impact it has had on them suffering from anxiety and other issues until very recently. Stories of people who were too shy to socialize in the real world, so they practiced socializing with their animal neighbors in the game. Stories of people who grew up in abusive households, but would turn to the friendly faces in AC to escape if only for a few hours and even a senior citizen living in a nursing home who has poured hours into the game creating their own communities as a social outlet. There’s not a doubt that this game can help with many people in any type of situation.

Reviewers highly recommend playing this game (I’m of course one of them.) After delays and years of waiting for a new major title, it seems like “New Horizons” ended up arriving at the perfect time. In times like these, it can get hard to find something to do while you’re at home. New Horizons might just help with that.