Animal Crossing: New Horizons is actually the first game in this franchise that I've gotten into and my little 32-year old heart fell in love, even if karma bit me in the butt over my cheeky island name. I spent hours and hours in this game in a total feeling of bliss until suddenly - it almost felt stressful. I've noticed somewhere along the line I lost interest in New Horizons but unlike when I move on from other games, this disenchantment has me feeling guilty and confused.
After having all of my shops upgraded and my city-scape home of my dreams, I found each time I picked up my Switch for some game time I felt like it was almost a chore. I didn't really want to play anymore, but I felt as though I should. Don't get me wrong, Animal Crossing is a phenomenal franchise and New Horizons came at the perfect time when people needed sanity the most due to COVID-19 concerns and growing quarantines. Being active on social media, I've seen so many people share their deeply personal stories of how New Horizons has almost saved their life when mental health struggles appeared to be too much. I've seen incredible creations where you just have to stop and stare and think "how the heck did they make that?!" And it was an accumulation of those factors that made me feel like I didn't quite fit with this niche.
Let me preface this by saying that you should play what you want to play, other gamers be darned. That being said, it's hard not to feel a little overwhelmed and like you're not quite playing this game right when constantly comparing against other players. I know that this sentiment is silly, logically, but for some reason that little voice in my head has been saying I'm just a colossal failure at New Horizons.
I get it, it's a game - it's not that deep, fam, but I found it interesting that in 32 years, 30 of those years have been spent gaming, at no point in any of that time did I feel guilty over disconnecting from a specific title. Because I'm overanalytical by nature, I naturally had to prod and pick at my own brain to find out why and I think honestly it boils down to social media.
Seeing so many creations that I can't even begin to understand began to feel overwhelming at times. The redundancy over daily tasks ceased to feel therapeutic, instead becoming just another obligation throughout my day. New Horizons began to feel less like a relaxing game and more like a social necessity and I just wasn't doing it right.
"My disconnection doesn't cheapen the connection others feel and as long as it makes you happy, that's all that matters."
When I was active duty, I'd play small niche games like this to get me out of my head and pass the time. I feel like if I were to have seen New Horizons in that environment and away from the constant social media takeover, I might have felt a stronger connection, but right now I feel a sense of guilt over not getting it when it helps so many in terms of mental health struggles, entertainment, and as a means of social connection in a time where many of are still in quarantine.
I still feel guilty, obviously or I wouldn't be writing this, but writing this piece is helping me to get those feelings out there and put it all back into perspective that at the end of the day, this is just a game and you aren't required to like it because everyone else does. And that's ok. Because my disconnection doesn't cheapen the connection others feel and as long as it makes you happy, that's all that matters.
So, yes, Animal Crossing: New Horizons has lost its magic for me and I feel guilty about that, but that's OK. And who knows? There are plenty of new events on the horizon, perhaps a future update will reignite that spark and I can focus in on my own experience instead of just honing in on others'.