- The new game "Animal Crossing: New Horizons" has become a popular tool for gamers looking to spend time with their friends and loved ones, without risking the spread of coronavirus.
- Users on social media have shared stories of themselves holding events inside of "Animal Crossing" that have been canceled in real life, such as weddings, graduations, and more.
- Others are simply using "New Horizons" to hang out with friends that they can't be near in reality.
- When asked why they picked "Animal Crossing" to hold their events, users cited "the relaxing nature of the game," as well as its emphasis on creativity and imagination.
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On Sunday, young couple Sharmin Asha and Nazmul Ahmed got married in a ceremony held entirely inside the video game "Animal Crossing: New Horizons."
The couple was set to marry on April 12 but were forced to cancel their wedding as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. With the pandemic disrupting a number of milestones in their lives — Sharmin is set to graduate from med school in May, and her graduation is still up in the air — Nazmul wanted to honor those events.
In turn, he planned a ceremony in "New Horizons" as a surprise for Sharmin, creating a custom pattern featuring their initials on one of the beaches on his in-game island. "I let our best friend know that, 'Hey, so I have this secret event planned out,'" he said. "I just sent a picture of the N and the S on the beach, and my friend started freaking out because she immediately got what I was trying to do."
Later, he invited Sharmin over his island under the pretense of helping her gather resources. She arrived to a trail of arrows leading to the beach, where Nazmul's scene awaited her. "He was hosting all of our friends on his island too and they all kind of like stood on the sides of the aisle," Sharmin said. "He put some roses down on the floor for me to pick up and a dress to put on and everything. It was honestly all very, very sweet."
They're not the only ones using "Animal Crossing" to defeat their coronavirus woes. Gamers all over social media have spent the weekend posting screenshots and stories of their virtual get-togethers, often with hilarious results.
While visiting a friend's island, you can catch bugs together, plant flowers, decorate the town, or even just sit down and chat. There are no enemies to defeat or levels to beat — just an idyllic nature setting for players to enjoy. "I think we really enjoy having a socializing aspect, because we haven't been able to see our friends and go over and hang out in person," Sharmin said. "Even just having them over and hosting them on my island virtually, it really feels like we're hanging out. It feels so nice just to have physical contact virtually, in a sense."
"Animal Crossing's" emphasis on letting players choose how they want to spend their time is a big part of what makes it such an engaging place to spend time with friends. It rewards creativity, and with the crafting and drawing tools available in-game, players can make nearly any scenario into a virtual reality.
A perfect example of this is the Reddit user Faichu, a college senior who saw her graduation ceremony canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. Disappointed that she wouldn't be able to celebrate commencement with her friends, she turned to "Animal Crossing."
With the game's drawing tools, she made diplomas and graduation gowns. And on Sunday, she and her friends celebrated their graduation entirely within "Animal Crossing."
"With the pandemic causing the last part of our senior year to be abruptly switched to online, our spirits have been pretty low," Faichu said. "Animal Crossing has given us that much-needed escape from all that's going on. [It] was able to give us a positive way to celebrate ourselves."
Other players have simply used "Animal Crossing" to recreate the friend groups they're missing in real life. In "New Horizons," you don't have to worry about lockdowns, toilet paper shortages, or social distancing rules — you can just hang out. (Although this hasn't stopped some players from wearing their own medical masks in-game.)
"New Horizons" is not only a means to relax during a global crisis, but also a way to maintain connections as people around the world are forced to eschew public milestones in favor of social distancing. For couples like Sharmin and Nazmul, or students like Fachu, the game allows them to not only celebrate their achievements, but to do so with the people they care about — and on a custom island paradise, no less.
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