The Wonders of Animal Crossing on Mental Health

The sun sets with the rays hitting your skin. Wildlife flourishes with bugs singing their own unique song. The faint sounds of waterfalls are in the background creating a lively but yet serene atmosphere. Villagers walk around freely, sometimes stirring up conversations.  This is the life on my island. 

Animal Crossing is a game where the player is an individual who goes to a deserted island and starts their own community. The community is filled with animal-like beings with different personalities and styles. The island is modified and decorated to the taste of the player and can be achieved by fishing, catching bugs, building items and buying from the community.

Many people switched to video games to find escapism during the pandemic. According to, Twitch audience increased by 10 percent and YouTube Gaming increased by 15 percent, both of which reflect the live-streaming medium’s success now that people consume higher quantities of content from home.  Nintendo’s Animal Crossing: New Horizons has been a huge success, and now there are many gamers who find this game beneficial to their mental health. 

“I play Animal Crossing for multiple different reasons,” junior Angelina Ge said. “For example, Animal Crossing: New Horizons allows players to modify land, create waterfalls and lakes, and decorate their whole island. I feel relaxed and at peace when I play Animal Crossing.”

The game’s music and sound effects and overall vibe are pleasant, lighthearted, and safe. There are plenty of natural sounds that are soothing, and if you prefer, you can spend a lot of time outdoors.

“The game’s graphics are beautiful and it makes me feel calm,” Ge said.  “The characters are so lovable that you really can’t get mad when playing. I usually play Animal Crossing with music playing, but when I don’t, the sounds of the bugs and the waterfalls are so surreal and calming.” 

It’s not about fear, rage, or rivalry that motivates this game. For yourself and your townspeople, it’s just about building an ideal world and life.  For some players, it’s very fulfilling to be part of and care for this community, even if it’s through a video game. 

“Video games can help relieve some stress and create an outlet for people to relax or even become another reality or escape from their current situations,” freshman Karen Lu said.  

At a time of social distancing, there is also the issue of curing isolation, which has been difficult for some students.  Animal Crossing is a new way for people to hang out and communicate remotely. 

“I could ‘hang out’ with friends during the pandemic,” sophomore Wanyi Li said.  “It also took my mind off of the stress from school and being stuck inside for months.” 

However, it isn’t just the distraction of the game that keeps it healthy.  Some students feel that the sense of community helps with depression or loneliness as well.  It makes players bond with the characters in the world on an emotional level, to make them feel genuine and make you want to come back and communicate with them.

“When researching Animal Crossing New Horizons for my own research experiment for science research, I found that Animal Crossing: New Horizons captures people’s instinct of wanting to escape from realistic difficulties and their yearning to chase a peaceful and harmonious life,” Ge stated. “Furthermore, it satisfies people’s unwillingness to be lonely and their deep inner desire for social interaction to get rid of loneliness.”

People love customization and the chance to express themselves and that’s a big part of Animal Crossing. It’s a truly relaxing feeling to sit on the beach watching the sun go down as fish nuzzle your deck. Often, your animated fellow residents are delighted to see you, and the more you get to know them, the more they make major improvements to your interactions. 

“Animal Crossing’s most critical quality is making its players feel at home,” Lu said.  “The village is a safe place where you are able to slow down and be yourself. “Although it can definitely not be used as a treatment, Animal Crossing can make mental illness a little easier to deal with.”