I know, I know – you’ve heard enough about Animal Crossing: New Horizons becoming the new way to socialize amid the pandemic. We even mentioned it in a post about video games as a social platform just a few months ago. Well, I have firsthand experience in meeting new friends through Animal Crossing and I need to talk about it because I think this story is incredible. Here’s how a massive Animal Crossing: New Horizons support group chat with over 20 people from all over the globe turned into a tightknit friend group that talks about pretty much everything except Animal Crossing anymore.
Nintendo released Animal Crossing: New Horizons just days after the World Health Organization declared the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic and countries entered months-long lockdowns. A person in one of the many Facebook groups I was in at the time decided to start a group chat where everyone could ask questions about the game, offer items and bells, set up island visits, etc. and I said, “Heck yeah. I’m in.” For a while, the chat was all Animal Crossing, all the time. With each passing day, though, bits of our personal lives started to enter the chat.
As I expected to happen, many people left or went silent. That’s okay; life takes over sometimes and adulting is hard, so we can’t expect everyone to keep up with a group chat that, respectfully, never shuts up. Those who remained in the chat, including myself, talked about everything under the sun. The Animal Crossing hype died down by the end of summertime, but our group chat never faltered.
We’re a group of women from all over the world. Many of us reside in all corners of the United States, but I’ve also chatted with people in Japan, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, and Australia. I’ve heard about jobs lost and found, relationships ending and beginning. I’ve celebrated with these ladies, laughed with them, listened to them, and cried to them. We even put together an Animal Crossing wedding for one friend when COVID-19 delayed the IRL event. (See the above photo – it’s real cute.) We’re soon coming up on the one-year anniversary of the chat’s creation, and my phone is still going off with notifications from that group chat all day, every day. We’ve all weighed in on our own mental health and maintained support for each other as the world fell apart (thanks, 2020).
All in all, New Horizons has been an amazing way to meet new people, but it’s just one example of making friends via online video games. How many people have their regular Call of Duty online buddies that they’ve never met in person? The same can go for pretty much any online game. You’ll be amazed at the different kinds of people you meet if you go outside the norm of socialization.
If you’ve fallen off the Animal Crossing: New Horizons train, this is your sign to get back on and find some online friends! Those who become indebted to a greedy raccoon together, stay together.
To Kel, Madison, Ashlee, Irie, Bekah, Julia, Katie, Tara, and Alex: I love ya, fleabags.