Adjusting to the New Normal

When my office shifted towards a work-from-home model, it was billed as being a temporary thing. By the beginning of April, when this all blows over, we’ll be back to business as usual.

Two months later, we got an update. Office isn’t opening for another few months. At this point, who knows what the situation will even be by then. Knowing what I know now, I embarked on one more trip to the office to get my things in order to settle into working-from-home life (and pandemic life) for the foreseeable future.

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Recreating My Streaming Studio in Animal Crossing: New Horizons

“What if I built my actual streaming room in Animal Crossing: New Horizons?”

The question hit me fairly early on as I uploaded the image of my Toronto Raptors championship banner that adorns my IRL studio. That night, I uploaded a few more images to give my house the “feel” of my basement, such as Link to match the art that Kris and Rachel from Double Jump gave me for Christmas, my Notorious B.I.G photo, and a picture of my best boy Snorlax.

Finally, I went all the way and built out the whole room.

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Super Mario, Rosalina, and Miles Morales Swing Into Our First Spray Paint Art Session of 2020

Spread out the drop cloth. Cut the Bristol board. Brush the dust off the cans. It’s spray painting season!

Here’s a recap of everything that went down during Steff and I’s first session of the year.

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Masks Are In Season

At the beginning of April, the World Health Organization updated its stance regarding masks. While medical-grade masks should still be reserved for medical professionals, they also suggest that homemade face coverings could help minimize the spread of the virus. Ever since then, my wife and I have taken to covering our faces in public.

It’s…certainly an adjustment.

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Our Animal Crossing: New Horizons Group Chat

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.

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Family Encounters During a Global Pandemic

“Just drop it off at the table.”

From an outsider’s perspective, it may have looked like I was engaging in illicit activity. Standing on my cousin Adrienne’s front porch, she cracked the window open just a little and gave me the instructions to drop off the Ziploc bag of Nintendo Switch games I brought for them to borrow. I put down the stash of games and picked up the container of soup she made for me as part of this trade. Backing away about 12 feet, she and her 3-year old son Kai opened the door and yelled, “Thank you!” I got back in the car and left.

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What Makes for a Good “Comfort Game”?

These last few weeks have been some of the hardest in modern history. Forced to retreat into our homes for the sake of social distancing, many are turning to games for some mental health relief. Ever since Animal Crossing: New Horizons released, my wife and I have poured hours into our shared island.

Part of that is because it’s the hot new game of the moment. But it’s also a fitting game for where we are from a mental standpoint. Animal Crossing: New Horizons is the ultimate comfort game, considering the circumstances at hand.

This got me thinking about the greater concept of “comfort games”. Technically, any game can be comforting to someone. But what is it about a game that makes it more comfortable during times of high stress? I take a stab at defining the broadest parameters of what a “comfort game” is.

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