Why is everybody playing Animal Crossing?

Posted at 7:53 PM, Apr 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-29 19:53:21-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — “Because things are so stressful, we really have to figure out a way to engage in pleasurable activity,” Dr. Theresa Mignone, a clinical psychologist in Williamsville said.

And for Max Michael of Buffalo, that thing is Animal Crossing, a virtually reality game breaking sales records across the globe.

Here’s how it works: You’re the sole human on an island and you want to make it livable. So, you build shops and bridges. Or, you just sit back, relax, fish and talk to friends.

“So everything that you would do in real life you could do in the game,” Michael said.

It’s quiet, slow-paced, and more or less everyday life.

“You know we’re able to do things in these virtual realities that we took for granted three months ago,” Dr. Mignone said. So she believes playing virtual reality games right now can actually be very therapeutic.

“A lot of things we use to enjoy we can’t," she said. "We feel like we have no control. So it does give us an opportunity to sort of engage in a world to distract us from what’s really happening in our world.”

And she says it’s a way to stay social even while trapped inside.

“It’s a group hangout," Michael said. "An invite to the game feels like an invite in real life. And if I find out someone was playing and I didn’t get a text, I would have that tifty moment and feel kind of left out.”

On a good day, Michael says he can spend up to 15 hours playing Animal Crossing.

“It’s very easy for like the whole day to go by," he said. "It was light when I started playing and then it’s dark and then it’s light again."

But Dr. Mignone says don’t worry, virtual reality games are very hard to get addicted to.

“The difference with these games is we don’t get that huge rush or that release of dopamine with the games that include violence or shooting, so we don’t have that risk of creating an addiction," she said.

So in a world where reality isn’t as glamorous as we’d like it to be, create your own.

“We all love hearing Andrew Cuomo everyday, but sometimes it’s good to take a break and do something fun," Mignone said.

Lke fishing with your friends on an virtual island.