A Home Away From Home
A user customizing their home in Animal Crossing: New Horizons. GIF taken by Alex Leisenfelder from the Feb. 21 Nintendo Direct. Credit to Nintendo.
Animal Crossing games always start players out in a similar fashion. Youre a new resident in town where you interact with other non-player residents to complete tasks for them while building your own place to call home. Animal Crossing is an escape for many who want to get away from the real world. You are able to customize your house how you see fit and create friendships with your animal neighbors. Compared to other games, Animal Crossing allows you to feel comfortable in a space that you help to mold.
Knowing Your Actions Matter
There is always an abundance of content to collect in gentle-progression games, and more content is often added through updates to keep players interested in most modern games in this genre.
Achieving things through consistent engagement is one of the signifiers of these games, and constant rewards are a good way to keep the interest of the player. And if you want the best items in the game, all you have to do is consistently spend time playing it, or doing the task youre asked to perform to earn that item.
That level of predictability is often what makes these games such effective and low-pressure mindfulness exercises. There is plenty to achieve, but no rush, and you almost always know exactly what you need to do to move forward. Its crucial that the rewards for your actions be predictable, and the path to where youd like to go made clear. The ability to plan your sessions to continue chasing your personal goals drives the sense of calm and control that many players feel when playing these games.
Which is another design challenge that anyone working on a game that focuses on gentle progression needs to overcome: How do you show the player that what theyre doing matters?
Animal Crossing: There’s Less Financial Pressure
Both of these games have their own economies and money-making systems, but it’s slightly less required of you to participate in New Horizons. Sure, you have loans to pay off, and it’ll cost you some pretty Bells to finish community developments, but there’s a ton you can do without spending a fortune.
Stardew Valley, on the other hand, is much more heavily tied to making money and building a profitable farm. You can also do quite a bit without spending anything, but the main goal of the game is to make money. The world of Animal Crossing;will carry on if you’re poor. Stardew Valley;will, as well, but you’ll mostly be wandering around broke and worried.
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Filling Your Museum And Aquarium
A user wandering around their museum featured in Animal Crossing: New Horizon. GIF taken by Alex Leisenfelder from the Feb. 21 Nintendo Direct. Credit to Nintendo.
While making friends with your neighbors may be fun, so is collecting items. Throughout the game, youll be able to collect various items such as fossils, insects, fish, and more that you are able to put into a museum or aquarium. This is another goal that players are able to work towards that can keep pulling them back into the game. There is nothing more satisfying than seeing your aquarium and museum completely filled.
The new installment to the series, Animal Crossing: New Horizons, was released on March 20, for the Nintendo Switch. It comes with an abundance of new features and old fan favorites including more character customization options, custom-made art for clothing and furniture, and new characters.
A Game To Be Played The Way You Want It To Be Played
The advantage of Animal Crossing is that the player can simply play the way he wants. There arent any specific goals other than to complete the museum, pay off all the loans that your friend Tom Nook has made to you to enlarge your house or get the highest score for your interior decoration.
The player is, therefore, free to play as he wishes. Whether he wants to chase butterflies instead of catching them or to scare away the fish, even to hit his villagers with a net, the player can do whatever he wants. So there are no right or wrong ways to play this series of games. The player decides what goals he wants to achieve and how fast he wants to do it.
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Lessons On Mental Health From Animal Crossing That We All Need
While many of us are sheltered in place, novelty can be hard to come by.
Illustration by Brittany England
I am admittedly very late to the Animal Crossing craze, the beloved video game in which players create their own idyllic village on a deserted island.
But after recent wildfires set my home state of Oregon ablaze, and I learned the unique and terrible pain of a kidney stone that kept me bedridden for a week, I knew it was finally my moment.
Reality was becoming less and less appealing by the minute.
Island living it was, then. I bought the game and was immediately hooked.
As someone who studies positive psychology, the nerd in me was struck by how many elements of the game actually hold water when it comes to living a fulfilled, contented life.
While I wouldnt recommend swimming in shark-infested waters or eating only apples for the rest of your life, there are some solid lessons we can take from Tom Nook and company. And with the mental health of so many under strain as the COVID-19 pandemic drags on, these simple but powerful reminders are especially needed.
Stardew Valley: Social Skills Are Optional
Sure, it’s hard to win the favor of the locals in Stardew Valley, but you don’t have to. You can live your entire life as a hermit on your farm, interacting with them only when necessary -;rare outside interactions include getting Robin to build something for you or ignoring everyone in Pelican Town.
In Animal Crossing, ignoring your villagers isn’t good. You can; do it, but it’s much more of a social-based game. Doing so would lead the;villagers to;move out, react with hostility to you, and there’ll be no real point to the game beyond just placing furniture everywhere. If you are relaxed by solitary living, Stardew Valley;is more for you.
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Animal Crossing: No Bedtime
Many people agree that the most stressful part of Stardew Valley, especially in the early game, is the time limit on every day. The player will pass out and sometimes be charged a fee if the clock reaches 2 a.m. and they are not in their home. This is very frustrating when trying to finish something or make it down to the lower levels of the mines.
Animal Crossing basically has none of this problem, allowing you play whenever you want for as long as you like. Days reset at 5 a.m., but you’re otherwise free to just go for it all hours of the night.
Whats So Special About Animal Crossing
Animal Crossing is so well-received partly due to its customisation. As mentioned earlier, the character is fully customisable. Facial features and hairstyles are not confined to one particular gender, and you can choose skin tones as well. Think of it as a virtual getaway, where you can create a version of yourself, your home, decorations, landscape and community. You can invite animals to live on your island, and determine/influence where they build their houses. Furthermore, it also runs based on real-time, and location. Weather will change according to your real-world location, and the Animal Crossing world goes on whether you are there playing or not.
A Sense Of Purpose Can Keep Us Going
On the surface, Animal Crossings appeal may not be immediately apparent to those who havent played it.
Collecting resources to build pretend furniture for a make-believe island doesnt exactly scream thrilling adventure ahead. Its deceptively simple.
How does a game so unassuming manage to captivate people without becoming tedious?
For one, the game relies on goal-directed behavior, giving players tasks to complete to build up the reputation and community on the island. This makes the tedium of building a bridge feel more meaningful, because it connects to a larger, more important purpose and story.
Purpose is actually the subject of a lot of research in the field of psychology. Having a life that feels meaningful or useful has been shown to reduce depressive symptoms and
Animal Crossing: New Horizons Gameplay
Nintendo split the demo into segments. The first one took place shortly after the game begins, with a villager who didn’t have much to her name, save some clothing and a rudimentary shelter. Animal Crossing: New Horizons isn’t a survival game, so you won’t need to worry about hunger, exposure or other problems that you might associate with the remote island setting. But there’s also not much to do until you start building up your town, so I got to work.
Early on, there’s not much to see on the island. My shelter was a tent, which contained a very simple bed, a chair and not much else. I could collect sticks and weeds, but I didn’t have tools complex enough for anything else. A river surrounded the “town” , and I didn’t have any way to cross it.
From here, we jumped ahead into the second part of the demo, where things were much more exciting. Now, my villager had a house, complete with a living room, a kitchen, a separate bedroom and tasteful, color-coordinated furniture all around. But the world outside was even more striking.
Now, instead of a desolate patch of desert, there was a bustling town outside. As the villager built the place up, she attracted a variety of different villagers, some of whom set up houses or shops of their own.
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New Study Ranks Animal Crossing: New Horizons As Most Relaxing Game Surprising No One
Incredible debt and financial pressure aside, Animal Crossing: New Horizons – and the entire series, in fact – is known for being one of the most relaxing, stress-free games available across any platform. It should come as no surprise, then, that Nintendo’s latest blockbuster has been ranked as exactly that in a new study.
As part of a recent video game lockdown load time report, comparison site Uswitch has been crunching the data to find the most relaxing games on the market. To do that, it’s used eight key factors that were recently highlighted in a study which looked into the relaxing nature of video games, giving each game a score represented as a ‘chill factor’:
Animal Crossing Seems To Be The Game Of The Pandemic
Well, it released on 20th March 2020, so the game came just in time for the worldwide stay-at-home orders. The creators of the game meant for it to be played in social groups, and in many ways Animal Crossing did encourage socialisation through its gameplay. Not only could you visit each other, but you can also organise birthday parties, dance parties, have podcasts and even weddings! On the same system, you can play with a total of 4 people, while online or over local wireless systems, it supports up to 8 players. The only thing is that if you dont have a Nintendo Switch, you cant play Animal Crossing. But theres a different version available to play on your mobile, so you can search it up as well! For more information on Animal Crossing, you can check out the video below.
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Mindfulness As A Practice
Mindfulness, if you dont know the term, is a general state of maintaining presence and moment-to-moment awareness of sensations and surroundings while experiencing calm and grounded feelings.
To live mindfully is to live in the moment and reawaken oneself to the present, rather than dwelling on the past or anticipating the future, Psychology Today explains. Mindfulness can also be a healthy way to identify and manage latent emotions that are causing problems in personal or professional relationships.
Meditation, coloring, or other relaxing and centering activities are often considered under the umbrella of mindfulness.
Mindfulness always comes with an aspect of intention an idea of what you hope to get out of the work youre putting into your tasks. Intention is a powerful motivator for human behavior; youre more likely to do something when you know exactly what you want out of that action.
Developers definitely use this when designing for gentle progression. Want to get a larger house? Make a cozy interior? Build the most beautiful rose garden to sit in with your friends? This is how you do it!
Intentions are often stories in our minds that we translate into motivation, and ultimately into steps to get where we want to be. What you want to achieve and where you want to go define who you are at that moment in time, and what youre likely to do. Mindfulness is, in many ways, just a side effect of being consciously aware of this process in your own mind.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons Is Not The Stress Reliever I Thought It Would Be
Katie Rohrbaugh / The Daily Princetonian
Everyone has their own approach for taking care of their mental well-being. WhenAnimal Crossing: New Horizons came out this past March, I thought the game would be a perfect counterbalance to the stresses of a wildly uncertain year. The games premise was inviting enough: led by an entrepreneurial tanuki, the Japanese word for racoon-dog, the player is able to take part in a once-in-a-lifetime island getaway where they can design their own island and live in harmony with a collection of cute animals.;
I cannot stress this enough: I absolutely love this game. But instead of becoming an outlet for my stress, I found that the New Horizons allowed me to repackage it under the facade of playing a video game. Unlike Mario Kart and Among Us, where games can be completed in a relatively short amount of time, New Horizons demands constant, continuous attention. This is partly because the player has to juggle a multitude of daily tasks in order to progress in the game. Talking to villagers, planting trees, watering flowers, picking fruit, digging up weeds, and a plethora of other menial tasks allow the player to access NookMiles, a currency that gives the player access to even more game features. As I was drawn into this positive feedback loop, I felt obligated to focus on finishing tasks in the name of productivity, rather than pure enjoyment.;
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How Do You Play It
Animal Crossing is an open world simulation game, meaning that there is no one “right” way to play it, letting you decide what goals you want to achieve and at what pace you want to do so. With each progressive version of the game there have been some slight tweaks as to how one goes about this, but the Animal Crossing’s gameplay typically consists of things like catching bugs and fish, plating trees and flowers, talking to your neighbors and decorating your own house in order to grow and improve your pastoral little town.
One of the big features and draws of the initial game was that Animal Crossing plays out in real time. The original Gamecube version even included a tiny internal clock embedded into the the cartridge so that the time of day and even the seasons would play out just like they would in the real world. This made it so that players had to come back to the game over multiple days and at different times if they wanted to have a chance of beating it.
My Relationship With Animal Crossing
You should know that Ive been playing Animal Crossing for a little while, I discovered the series through the Wild World game released for the Nintendo DS, and then I became interested in the first game released for Gamecube. After that, I was also able to try Lets Go to the City, which was released for Wii. That version allowed multiplayer play with one player on Wild World and one player on Lets Go to the City before the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection was shut down for good. I invested in a Nintendo 3DS on purpose so I could play Animal Crossing: New Leaf, a purchase I havent regretted since I spent over 500 hours on it !
When Pocket Camp was announced, I remember pre-registering directly on the play store. Even though its a mobile game, I enjoyed the experience and I play it voluntarily in transport or during the loading times of my PC games.
Then Animal Crossing: New Horizons was announced. You have to know that Im very reluctant to buy yet another console. However, Im currently confined to my home with my boyfriends Nintendo Switch. A very good excuse to finally buy the game after all! Ive been able to play it, and I must say that I love doing what I want on my desert island. I can go and plant my flowers and trees, put up fences, complete my museum, talk to the locals. And if I feel like it, I can create new rivers or add cliffs!
Animal Crossing is a game that has helped me a lot, whether its to gain self-confidence or to meet people and interact with them.
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