Sunday, 5 July 2020

Crossing and Coronavirus



Like quite a lot of people, Animal Crossing is proving a godsend for getting me through the pandemic year of 2020.

I'm no stranger to the game. The first Animal Crossing game I ever played was Animal Crossing New Leaf on the Nintendo 3DS. It was recommended to me as a game I would like, so I got it and was hooked on it for months. So as you can imagine, I was very much looking forward to New Horizons on the Switch, unaware of how much I was going to end up relying on this game to help distract myself and get through one of strangest years I've ever experienced.

That said, we're only through just over half the year. There's still five months of 2020 left. The pandemic and the resulting ‘new’ normal could even go on beyond 2020.

This is a blog about my personal experience with the Covid-19 lockdown and social distancing, as well as what I’ve been doing on Animal Crossing to help my anxiety during it.

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I've been taking the lockdown and social distancing rules very seriously. I live with my dad who suffers with Type 2 Diabetes and high blood pressure, so he's at high risk of complications if he ever caught the virus, but sadly he wasn't deemed 'high risk' enough for the Government 12-week shielding letter.
I work nights at a retail job. Had my dad gotten the shielding letter, I could've had up to 12-weeks paid leave to help protect him, but because he didn't, my choices in protecting him and myself were limited.

As time went by my anxiety issues over this worsened at work and eventually I went off on sick leave for 10 days due to the stress and anxiety as the social distancing was just too difficult to do there. I went back after a combined 2 weeks off, as I had some holiday time booked too, but not much had changed in the difficulty of the social distancing and within 3 days I was a nervous wreck again. I felt like I was gambling with mine and my dad's lives every day I was there.

I decided to once again phone the doctor and this time requested a full month off. Being there wasn't worth our physical health, nor my mental health. During this time I focused as much as I could on my mental health and one of the things that helped was Animal Crossing.

Thankfully, upon my return to work this last month, I have now been placed on a section of the store which is quiet and where, for the most part, I'm the only one working on the aisles. Social distancing is still difficult in certain areas, especially in the warehouse, but I'm now thankfully spending most of the time feeling like I am in a safer space and able to keep distance from most people.

I'm currently only temporarily on this section, but for now I wish to stay on there until a vaccination for the virus comes out. Then, and only then, will I feel it's safe to continue with my regular job there.
(Though I will admit, I am quite enjoying having my own section all to myself during my shifts.)
As far as I'm concerned the lockdown still exists to me until then. Work, and the occasional essential shopping trip to a small local store, are the only places I am going to for the foreseeable future.

This does mean that I may not get to see my friends for the rest of the year, who I haven't seen since mid-March, but we're all taking the pandemic seriously and as much as having to stay apart is disappointing, we would rather keep each other, and our families, safe.

Thankfully though, my friends and I all did get Animal Crossing, and it's helped us all quite a bit during the lockdown. It was something we could play together online and help each other out with and it's given us something to talk about almost daily over our group messenger.

Granted, as life gets back to the 'new' normal, we're finding less time to be able to play together, but it has been a very welcome distraction from the global pandemic.

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So a bit about my island on Animal Crossing New Horizons.

I named the island 'Willoway', which is just a name a got from a random generator some time back that created names from mashing 'nature' words together. I also use it as a last name for an original character of mine.

Since I started the game on its release date of March 20th, Willoway has changed from a small, mostly uninhabited island, to a small bustling community, where I used my hard-earned bells to landscape and decorate the island.

The development of Willoway over time.

It started out being a regular sort of town, but I was rather inspired by the 'cottagecore' and 'fairycore' islands people have done, and I was dissatisfied with the main part of the island, so I re-did it with a more 'woodland' like feeling, which looks prettier. The residential area has had some tweaks, but for the most part, its general design stayed the same.

I tend to avoid doing time travel in the game, which is where you can change the date on your Switch to go to different seasons within the game, so you can get seasonal items, but I did do it once in order to get the mushroom DIYs and mushrooms needed to make them.
There isn’t a lot of negative points to time travelling within the game, other than a few cosmetic things you can fix, or turnips going bad, so I can see why people do it to get items they would otherwise have to wait months to get, or spend an ungodly amount of bells or Nook Mile Tickets to get from other people.
I’m glad I time travelled for the mushroom DIY set, because the mush lamps that are now scattered around my island look amazing at night.

It's amazing how whimsical mush lamps make everything look, just by existing.

Currently the island has its own outdoor library, a rock garden, a ‘floating island’ park, a botanical garden and a very cute area with a 'fairy ring' made up of bushes, tree stumps and mushroom stools. Each villager has their own gardens of varying sizes, decorated to suit them the best I can.

The beach areas are currently the only areas that are under-developed, mainly because I have way too many flowers, so I’ve been storing them on the beaches as they were the only spaces big enough to keep them. I'm slowly starting to sort through these flowers though, getting rid of any excess that I don’t need.

Playing this wholesome game every day has really helped me to turn off when I need it, whether it's just to work on the island a bit, or talk to the villagers. It's also hard to feel sad when your villagers send you sweet mail like this.

Thank you, Flora ♥️

Also, thanks to the free DLC and updates they do to introduce new things, as well as the various new bugs and fish that come with every passing month, it helps to keep my interest in the game. Granted some of the events have eventually gotten a bit tiresome, I kept completely forgetting about the recent month long wedding event, but it's nice they keep giving us new things to explore and if an event goes on for two weeks to a month, there isn’t as much need to really grind for items, so it allows people to play more casually.

The most recent update introduced swimming into the game and I've found it so relaxing to just have my character swim around in the ocean for a bit, occasionally picking up whatever sea creatures I find.

As mentioned, my friends and I have all been helping each other out on the game. Getting items and DIYs for each other, inviting each other over for meteor showers and villager birthdays, as well as keeping up with each other’s turnip prices. It's nice just to hang out and see how each of our islands are developing.


Recently hanging out with a friend.

If you’d like to keep up with me and my adventures on Willoway Island, I’m keeping a blog of what I am doing over on my fandom Tumblr. It’s all under the tag: Togepi Plays ACNH

Even though my island feels like it’s almost complete design wise, the game will keep giving me entertainment for months to come as I work on catching new fish and bugs and take part in new events and features. It will surely help to get me through the rest of this cursed year.

2020 has crash and burned, but it's OK because this is a seaplane.

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