How Animal Crossing Helps Me Cope with Depression

Animal Crossing Mental Health Sean

Like many others, depression is an obstacle I face with each day to day task such as work, writing, and even getting out of bed in the morning. Video games have been a way for me to escape from the dark days and step into a world that is more, for lack of a better world, light. There hasn’t been a game that has helped me with those dark days more than Animal Crossing.

Animal Crossing is the game of life, but more simple and much cuter. In Animal Crossing, you move into a new town and meet several animals that are actually your neighbors. After moving into your new home, you can decorate it, talk to your neighbors, buy new outfits, or even work on city projects if you’re playing New Leaf. Everything in the game feels personal in a way, and that includes how your neighbors interact with you too.

Your neighbors will have their own personalities, but everyone sees you in a positive light. The more you talk with them on a day-to-day basis, the warmer they’ll feel towards you. In some ways, I started to feel like I was actually becoming friends with my neighbors in my town. But what helped me most with my depression is Animal Crossing’s use of real world time to reflect on in-game events.

This means that shops open and close at a set time, and there are even special events that happen each day such as a mysterious lamp appearing or an out-of-town vendor. Animal Crossing is a game that you can play in short bursts, or in a long stretch of time to do something you can do at any time of day, such as fishing or decorating. However, having something new to do every day, such as new interactions and different items in the stores, gave me something to look forward to every day. I looked forward to Sundays because it meant the Stalk Market was open and I can buy some turnips. I looked forward to a certain weekend every month in the summer because it meant that the fishing tournament was going to happen. And I looked forward to tomorrow, because it meant that I can give my favorite another gift in hopes that they’ll like me more.

Having something to look forward to was one of the best ways to keep me going on. Animal Crossing is a joyful world with plenty of friendly faces. While it’s best played in short bursts daily, those moments of escapism were something I looked forward to everyday, and while I’ve slipped away from my village lately, I’m looking forward to diving into Animal Crossing Switch (title pending) in 2019.


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