10 Years of Animal Crossing

I know this may seem like a strange thing for me write about, given that the main content of this little blog is Chronic Illness themed, but it does in a weird way tie into my health. So grab a drink of your choice, sit back & relax & let me explain...

10 years ago, there was a massive outbreak of Swine Flu in the U.K, so many people were getting very sick. At the time I was working as an Accounts/Admin assistant for a large Flower Company & I basically breathed in recycled air for 4 out of 7 days per week. So when one person got Swine Flu, almost all of the work force got it & having one Chronic illness already with Anaemia on top of that, my poor immune system just wasn't up to handling the fight against that awful sickness.

I ended up on antibiotics & told by my doctor to put myself to bed until I'd finished them. I certainly didn't argue with him as I felt like death. I spent a week off work & basically slept for most of it & eventually began to feel a little bit better by the weekend. I ended up back at the work the following week, although I still wasn't feeling 100% although I'd finished the antibiotics. {While I'm sure I have been living with Mild M.E since I was a teenager, it was my getting Swine Flu that I believe triggered a worsening of what I now know are M.E symptoms & along with a few other reasons, why I am now living with Moderate/Severe M.E. I never allowed myself to fully recover from that flu & I now live with the consequences.}

I pushed myself through the week & then ended up back in bed the following Friday, feeling really ill again - I'd gone back to work too soon but the working climate at that time was basically one that made you feel so incredibly guilty for having any sick days & this lead to people going into work ill, which wasn't good for them or the people around them... No wonder Swine Flu affected so many people!

Feeling so ill of course affected me mentally & I was in desperate need of a pick me up. My lovely mum {who had also ended up getting Swine Flu but had recovered well} was going shopping & asked if I wanted anything picking up. I gave her my bank card & asked her to get this game I'd seen for my Nintendo DSi, called Animal Crossing Wild World.

My Animal Crossing Pocket Camp character stood in front of her Camper Van.

Until this point I was unaware of the Animal Crossing universe, I never had a Nintendo Game Cube or N64, which I later learnt were the consoles you could play the original game, Animal Forest, on. When my mum brought me back the game, I grabbed my DS, popped the game card into it & started the game. The theme music was so lovely & relaxing & I just knew I would be playing this game for a long time to come! I started the game & was greeted with one of the characters who asked my name & the name of the town I was heading to. This then gave you the opportunity to name your town, I chose "Lantis" being a big Stargate Atlantis fan, I wanted to live in my own little version of that city!

As the player, you basically live each day in the little town {the game plays in real time}, make friends, chat & do favours for the animals that live in the town with you. There’s fruit to pick daily, go fishing, catch bugs, dig up fossils & pay off your house loan to a Raccoon named Tom Nook.... I know that sounds so random & maybe hard to understand, but it's kinda hard to explain it any other way without showing you.

This game, from 2009 onwards, became one of the ways I dealt with the high stress I had in my life at the time. I would come home from work & just escape into my little town, where life was simple & stress free. It got me through being signed off work due to stress, struggling through my failing health, being made redundant in 2010 & just life in general really. I even took my little town with me when I travelled to Jersey & South Africa - It basically went everywhere with me!  By the time a new version of the game came out in 2013/2014, the little town of Lantis was thriving. I had almost completed my Museum, I'd caught all the fish & bugs, dug up all the fossils & had so many fruit trees that picking fruit was a full time job!

In May of 2014, my lovely mum offered to upgrade my DSi to a 3DS & I also got Animal Crossing New Leaf. In this version of the game, you weren't just moving into a new town, you were the Mayor of the town! So little Louise became Mayor of a town called Amity {a peaceful faction from Veronica Roth's Divergent Series} & got to work in making the town a wonderful place for all the animals living there. As well as all the fishing, bug catching, fossil hunting & fruit picking you did in Wild World, being Mayor meant you could now add things to your town {Public Works Projects} these included sculptures, a campsite, a café, street lamps & benches - just to name a few. You can also add shops to the Main Street, like a hairdressers.

My Animal Crossing Characters stood in front of their houses;
Top Left: Wild World - Lantis  / Top Right: New Leaf - Amity
Bottom Left: City Folk - Panem  / Bottom Right: New Leaf - Nu Lantis

New Leaf came in my life almost a year after I had been diagnosed with M.E & like Wild World, was a way for me to just switch off & distract myself from how ill I was feeling. It's coming up to the 5 year mark of getting the game & aside from the days when I'm simply too ill to lift my head off my pillow, I spend a bit of time each day in my town, escaping from the outside world.

As well as Wild World & New Leaf, I recently got the Wii version of the game, Let's Go To The city/City Folk & my town is called Panem {from The Hunger Games, this one is similar to WW} I don't play this one too often as I struggle with the Wii controls. I also play two of the spin offs, Happy Home Designer & Pocket Camp {latest mobile game} which are fun & I enjoy them but, for me, they're not as immersive as New Leaf & Wild World {though I don't really play WW anymore}.

As someone who is mostly housebound, playing a game which is mainly set outdoors in nature is just wonderful. Playing as my character, I can walk around enjoying my flowers & trees, do my jobs, chat to my animal friends, go to work at the Town Hall, pick my fruit, go swimming & enjoy a drink at the café - all things my health doesn't allow me to do in real life on a daily basis. I basically live vicariously through my little character! Another thing I love about this game is that although I've been playing New Leaf for almost 5 years, I've caught every bug & fish & nearly filled my museum, there's still always something to do. I'm currently giving my little town of Amity a refurbishment & it feels like a new place, which I love.

This game means so much to me & has been a big part of my life for so many years & I don't think I'll ever get bored of playing it. Actually, I've recently got the special edition Animal Crossing 2DS & have started a new town, Nu Lantis, which is going to be my way to update my old WW town of Lantis & it's so much fun starting over! {the only way to get a new town on one game card is to delete your current town - which I wasn't going to do!}

My Animal Crossing Pocket Camp character posing with my in game Best Friend, Lobo, a grey/blue Wolf.

There's so much to these games, that I've only given a very basic outline, {I could be here all day talking about it!} I really think the only way to know what these games are about are to play them, especially if you're looking for a game to help you relax after a hard day or to distract you from real life for a little while.

So I guess that's it for my little ramblings about my 10 years with Animal Crossing, thank you for taking the time to read this & sharing in my milestone.

If anyone reading this plays Animal Crossing New Leaf & would like my Dream Address, please leave a comment below & if you'd like, leave your own Dream Address so I can have a wander in your town - I'm always looking for new towns to explore.

{There's no point me giving out my Pocket Camp Friend Code as I have a full active Friends list, Nintendo really needs to increase the number of friends we can have on there!}

UPDATE:

On 20th March 2020, Nintendo is releasing a new version of Animal Crossing for the Nintendo Switch called Animal Crossing New Horizons. At time of writing this article back in 2019, we had no information about the new game, but now {March 2020} there has been so much released about it that it’s honestly quite overwhelming! I’m not going to go into too much detail here, as if you’re a fan of the game, you probably already know about it. But New Horizons is set around flying off to a deserted island and you’re the one who gets to cultivate that island and design it exactly how you want. This is the first time the layer will have a completely blank canvas to develop and I’m very excited for it! I already have a name and rough plan for my island! So yeah... EXCITED!

I hope everyone is as well as possible & taking care,

L x

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