What I Learned Playing Animal Crossing: New Horizons for 600+ Hours

It’s been almost a year since my first Animal Crossing: New Horizons blog came out at 300+ hours. Since then, I’ve logged over 630 hours and have restarted my island not once but twice which brings me to my third and hopefully final island. I had thought that AC:NH was simply a game to help get me through the pandemic and hellscape that was 2020, but buddy, was I wrong. This last year has tested me to my absolute limits through losing friends, relationships, what I thought I wanted and what I thought I deserved. I’m happy to report that I am definitely on the other side of all of the negativity now, but one thing was always a constant – the happy, brightly hued island I could return to day after day when things were rough. 


Surely, you’ll say, there’s nothing left to learn in that game? You’re probably right, but here we are.


Your island (and life) is only as good as you make it.

Island no.3 has a fall/halloween theme as shown above.

Yes, this is an easy concept to understand but harder in practice. Over the last few months, I’ve been forced in some shape or fashion to really examine my life/island and decide what actually serves me. Like Marie Kondo says, does this bring you joy? The answer for a vast majority of the pieces of my life was no. Definitively no. I was sacrificing myself for others happiness and at the cost of my own sanity. Why continue adding bricks to the house when the foundations are crumbling? Why hold on to something that is dead and makes you miserable when you could just restart? Restart your island. Restart your life.


Don’t be scared by the big picture – take it one step at a time.

My first design zone on island no.3

I found that on island no.2 I was so overwhelmed by what could be that I struggled to bring anything to fruition. When I restarted on island no.3, I made a point to not think about the whole picture. Find a theme, a design, a color scheme even and just roll with it. I opted to spend my time making smaller areas look picturesque rather than throwing furniture all over the island just to level up. The same can be said about life or healing. You can’t tackle a large problem head on and expect an immediate fix – not often at least. Instead, focus on the small actionable problems that will reduce the size of the original. Don’t be overwhelmed by what could be or could have been – focus on what is.


A change of scenery is necessary.

A colorful exterior from Happy Home Paradise.

When moving through life and games, sometimes it’s easy to feel stuck. Unmoving. Unchanging. The easiest way to step out of this mindset? A change of scenery. Whether you rearrange your room, move to a new side of town or restart your island in a different hemisphere – there is always a way to shock the system towards change and growth. That’s not to say it isn’t hard or uncomfortable to make that decision – but it is necessary. You can’t change where you were squandered or deeply unhappy.

 


Surprises can exist around every corner.

A happy client from the Happy Home Paradise expansion.

I am not a huge fan of surprises, but a free update on Nov. 5 for AC:NH filled me with so much joy it was a little ridiculous. The addition of a cafe in the museum, dozens (if not hundreds) of new items to purchase, plus an expansion that mixes the best of AC:NH with Sims, what’s not to love? After 600+ hours, it’s easy to fall into the mundane checks and balances of keeping the island afloat – much like a long term relationship. The updated content helped to make me excited about the game again. Moments like this can happen in everyday life too – you just have to pay attention and be willing to accept it.


Do you play AC:NH? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!


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Bailey Nance

A midwestern film buff with an affinity to all things spooky, strange or underrated, looking to spew random knowledge into the world while life is in an unpredictable tailspin. Here for a good time, not a long time.

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