Animal Crossing turned 15 this week–and if that makes you feel kind of old, you’re not alone. But along with marking the rapid passage of time, this birthday also marks a decade and a half of building friendships with animal neighbors, decorating homes, paying off mortgages and talking about the ways this little game has made our lives better.
Like how it helped this Tumblr user feel productive and successful while struggling through a period of unemployment.
Back while I was unemployed on and off for three months or so this past summer, I started playing Animal Crossing: New Leaf. Strangely, it felt so similar to having a job that I attribute it with helping me manage my psychological need to be productive while searching for *real* work, networking, and freelancing. With it, I felt engaged in something bigger than my daily job search. It helped keep me optimistic, and it helped me get through some bad times that might otherwise have gotten the best of me if it weren’t for this endearing, funny little game.
Or how it helped this artist keep her spirits up during chemotherapy.
And then there’s depression. The pleasant monotony of games like Animal Crossing can be a problem for some people–it’s easy to sink dozens of hours or more into the game’s daily cycles while avoiding everything real life has to offer. But this writer shares a story of how Animal Crossing helped motivate her to get out of the house, get back to school, and meet new people.
I used this system and game to create a colorful barrier around me so I wouldn’t see how grey my world actually was. I played that game everyday, for on average an hour a day, but an hour wasn’t enough. I wanted to see what my town looked like before 6 AM, which neighbors stood up at midnight, and I was already ready to visit K.K. Slider at the museum at 7 PM.
Animal Crossing was my therapy. The characters were funny, nice, cute, and sweet. I felt more at home with the neighbors in this game than I did in my actual home.
My confidence skyrocketed every moment I played Animal Crossing. So much so that I reapplied to community college. It was there that I met a young woman who only started talking to me because I was playing Animal Crossing. (I almost ignored her because of the “colorful barrier,” remember?)
So happy birthday, Animal Crossing, and thanks for all the good times so far.