About a week-or-so after the global pandemic took a grip on the western world, my friend Melissa started a group chat with our circle of friends. Checking in to make sure everyone was okay, Matt replied that he and Brendan were safe at home, playing Animal Crossing: New Horizons. That one reply derailed everything.
Before everyone had even taken a moment to update us on their status, the conversation amongst most of us centered around our stories of establishing our islands. Despite them being some of my closest friends going as far back as middle school, I don’t really talk with this group about gaming. Their interest in the genre has usually been on a different wavelength. Yet here we are, with almost everyone in the chat had a Switch and Animal Crossing: New Horizons at launch.
Friend Codes were swapped. We compared notes on what fruits we had access to. Shared tips on how to catch specific types of fish. Moaned about how it was going to take two whole days for the museum to be built and how we stockpiled all of our donations in front of the construction site. Out of respect to the handful in that group chat that weren’t playing, we started our own group.
It’s a lively chat that gets well over 100 messages per day. We’ve visited each other’s islands multiple times. Of late, the biggest topic of discussion is turnip prices. Once in the morning and once around noon, we report on our turnip prices. Thanks to Jamaal’s store buying them at a whopping $617 Bells, I was able to sell my stash for $1.1 million! I paid off the latest round of my mortgage as well as a new bridge. Planning on banking most of that money to buy even more turnips for another potentially huge payday.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons is a great game to play alone. Fun to play with friends too. But being connected to one another as part of our own community outside of the game adds a new dynamic to the experience. The game offers so much to talk about that we’re having a great time just keeping this dialogue going.
Beyond that, it’s been great to be in regular contact with my friends. Even though many of us live close by, we only see each other a handful of times per year for a few birthdays, random get-togethers, and our annual Christmas celebration. We weren’t really talking to one another outside of coordinating said get-togethers. With the pandemic’s grip on society tightening with each passing day, being able to bond over Animal Crossing every day has brought us a bit closer during a time when we probably need each other the most.
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