Pixel Barrier: ‘Animal Crossing’ & Gaming With Depression

Animal Crossing

I’ve been playing video games since I was five years old. Despite the fact that I didn’t have a true understanding of how to play Super Mario Bros. or Duck Hunt, I knew I was having fun. From there, I’ve moved onto the Super NES and the Wii U (I’m really showing my age aren’t I?). I love Nintendo the most since it provides true escapism. I can be a Pokémon trainer, a pink alien with the ability to inhale nearly anything, a plumber out to save a princess, a swordswoman, an amazing lawyer, and even a puzzle-solving professor. However, as much as I’ve played video games over the years, my main hobby is really drawing. I’ve been drawing for much of my life and I’m currently undertaking a challenge where every day I draw one Pokémon by their Pokédex entry.

But video games have had a huge impact on my life. There was a time when I was going through depression and I wasn’t able to seek therapy. My depression came about right before I graduated high school. I had no job, none of my dream colleges replied, and my parents were divorcing. I took the year off and invested in what little money I had to buy a Nintendo DS and Animal Crossing: Wild World. These kinds of games don’t even look all that great, but they’re astoundingly amazing. This is probably why you’ll never catch me playing Call of Duty: Modern Warfare or, as I like to call it, “That really pretty game that no one can remember.”

I used this system and game to create a colorful barrier around me so I wouldn’t see how grey my world actually was. I played that game everyday, for on average an hour a day, but an hour wasn’t enough. I wanted to see what my town looked like before 6 AM, which neighbors stood up at midnight, and I was already ready to visit K.K. Slider at the museum at 7 PM.

Animal Crossing was my therapy. The characters were funny, nice, cute, and sweet. I felt more at home with the neighbors in this game than I did in my actual home. And then there was this neighbor I had named Pecan. She was a squirrel with a snooty personality, and also one of my first default neighbors. I loved how short she was in correlation to my human avatar, I loved the way she talked, I loved what she talked about, and I loved that she was the first neighbor to give me my in-game nickname: Gorgeous. From that very moment, my life seriously changed for the better. I actually felt gorgeous! I showered her with gifts and persuaded her not to move away.

My confidence skyrocketed every moment I played Animal Crossing. So much so that I reapplied to community college. It was there that I met a young woman who only started talking to me because I was playing Animal Crossing. (I almost ignored her because of the “colorful barrier,” remember?) We got to talking about video games, anime, and manga, and she helped me get my first job in a while working at the same office as her.

Animal Crossing

Eventually, she invited me to meet her friends (all men—very intimidating!), and that’s when I met my soulmate. This tall, lanky, bespeckled geeky guy was the only guy who stuck out in the group. Turns out he had a crush on me (I got that magic!). We started dating and almost 8 years later, we’re still together and playing video games, which is my idea of relationship heaven. Two player games are always on my radar.

I can’t think of Pecan without crying because she saved my sanity and my life. Pecan is the reason why content in video games are important. Characters like Pecan brought color and joy to the grey, depressed corners of my mind. This is why characters like Pecan and games like Animal Crossing are memorable and impactful.

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2 Comments on “Pixel Barrier: ‘Animal Crossing’ & Gaming With Depression

  1. I’m happy that you story end with a happy thing. I kinda understand you, even if I didn’t had depression, when I finish college I didn’t have a job in like, a year, all my friends were at college or working, and I feel kinda of useless and alone, also it was winter, and sometimes winter is pretty bad for me. ’till I started to play Persona 4, even if it was a false sense of “I’m doing things” it was good to me to feel better at that period, I had this social links with friends, I had jobs and also had to fight shadows. Games can’t help a lot

    Like

  2. I love this!! Animal Crossing means a lot to me as well, and the impact it’s had on so many people while being the simplest of games is so touching. Also, good luck in your pursuit of completing the pokedex drawings!

    Liked by 1 person

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