A lot has happened in my life since the new Animal Crossing game came out on June 9. I returned from a trip to Japan that involved a lot of stress on the way home thanks to flight complications. I resumed work at my community center job and transitioned to working with much younger children than who I had worked with before. I had finished my last year of college and left with a bachelor's degree. A close relationship I had with a friend and roommate came to an end just before I moved out of my apartment. I said goodbye to college life and ventured into adulthood, moving to a new city into an apartment with my significant other and staked out potential jobs.
I don't think it's a coincidence I latched onto New Leaf stronger than I did as a child with the first Animal Crossing in 2001 when I was only 10 years old. I played it then because a friend introduced me to it. I thought the player character was cute -- and the animals cuter -- and played it religiously for a couple months, later picking it up every once in a while. The same happened for Wild World and City Folk. While I started out playing New Leaf often, once I had my first weekend fill of it, I realized I had responsibilities to return to and set an hour away each day for me to play, missing days when I had things to do.
My sister is weird.
One evening in my previous apartment before moving out, I was crying. I felt how frightening it was for familiarity of college to be over. I could see myself growing distant from some of the people I had spent time with the last four years. The next night, I resumed playing Animal Crossing and received a letter in my mailbox from my neighbor Avery, a cranky eagle and fellow Pisces.
Though I was mildly creeped out by the timing of this letter, it touched my heart. Avery is just a character in a video game, but in that video game he is my friend, and I am his friend. Animal Crossing looks like a simplistic game, but it's a way for me to escape from my daily stresses and spend a little time each day chatting with a range of animal characters who value my company. Games are more than just mindless entertainment; they're safe spaces for you to interact with others.