In March 2020, right as the pandemic was starting to take root in Canada, I was diagnosed with a complication in my pregnancy that required me to be on bed rest until delivery. Kindly, a friend of mine loaned me his Nintendo Switch with the instruction to play Animal Crossing: New Horizons. I’ve never considered myself much of a “gamer,” but during those long months of bedrest, and further isolation due to cold weather and worsening Covid, puttering around my little cartoon island has been one of the only ways to beat the pandemic blues.
Animal Crossing also has online capabilities, allowing your character to visit friends’ islands, which allows for safe, albeit unconventional, socialization opportunities. I’ve attended birthday parties and grad ceremonies on Animal Crossing, given gifts, picked flowers, and introduced my son to friends that live hundreds of kilometres away. I can’t say whether I’ll continue to play as much once we can travel and socialize in-person, but it has been such a blessing to have this virtual world to explore with my friends and family from the safety of our own home.
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