IV HIGH: Game helps people relax in stressful times

Animal Crossing villagers celebrate the opening of a new incline for the island. In the game, every time a new part of the island is accessible, there is a ceremony to celebrate the development of the island. PHOTO RENZO HERRERA

Animal Crossing: New Horizons has helped people cope with stress and anxiety during the pandemic by helping them relax and unwind.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons is a simulation video game franchise from Nintendo. The point of the game is to build and customize your island to make it your dream island. Animal Crossing has been known to help people relax and release the stress with the relaxing music and easy tasks.

Psychologist Zalkanova Clemenceau Mendoza, who usually deals with patients who are under stress and anxiety, said videogames can help people during this pandemic.

“By maintaining focus on something such as video games, they decrease anxiety and stress,” Clemenceau Mendoza said.

Animal Crossing has helped many people cope with their problems. Nat Westen, who lost her job due to the pandemic a few months ago, is someone who plays Animal Crossing New Horizons casually and says it has helped her a lot during this quarantine.

“Animal Crossing serves for me as a constant during a period where time has no meaning,” said Westen. “AC has actually been a coping mechanism in my toolbox for many years. This turbulent time in the world is no different. It helps as an escape because it’s such a detailed game with a lot to do. It takes my mind off the real world. I was laid off in April, and often didn’t have a reason to get out of bed some days. It provides a reason to start my day, and to participate in the rest of my day.”

Players can be as creative as they’d like with their island. Alan Alvarez, 14, who is a freshman high school student, said he plays Animal Crossing as a way to unwind and relax after a long day of school and homework.

“My island would be like a vintage theme,” said Alvarez. “What I mean by that is that some parts of my island would look like the early ’70s while the other half would have more like a rustic theme.”

There are virtual characters known as villagers in Animal Crossing. The villagers are based on animals, and they need you to help them complete tasks like finding buried treasures and delivering items to other villagers. They can talk to you like a virtual best pal. Every villager has different characteristics.

“I think the one I relate to the most is Mitzi the cat. She was actually the very first villager I came across when I played AC for the first time on the GameCube. She’s sweet, quiet, and a little nerdy. I love her and I want to protect her,” Westen said.

Video games, such as Animal Crossing: New Horizons can help many people who are going through stress and other challenging times relax and focus on something that is meant to distract them from the real world.

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