MANILA - As the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) roars on, millions of gamers found an escape and a gateway to a ‘normal‘ life in Nintendo’s global bestselling game, Animal Crossing: New Horizons.
The life-simulating game for the Nintendo Switch, gives players the ability to create virtual versions of themselves, customize their homes, and interact with other players— providing an antidote to social isolation.
Several players have held weddings, hosted, parties, and recreated other social activities without flouting the restrictions brought by the COVID-19 pandemic.
One Filipino gamer, for example, used the platform to express his support of ABS-CBN after the network went off air on May 5.
Sporting “Laban Kapamilya” shirts he designed in-game and geared with "Tuloy ang laban” signages printed in the network’s colors, the gamer, who chose to remain anonymous, along with several other friends held a small demonstration and candle lighting.
“I didn’t really want to make a public protest out of this especially with the toxic political climate we’re in, but Animal Crossing gave me a safe space to vent the way I felt about how our freedoms are being trampled bit by bit,” he said.
He continued, “It’s admittedly a heavy topic to express in a game, but since most of my friends who visit my island are mature enough to understand this anyway, I thought why not.”
The “Laban Kapamilya” shirts displayed can be copped and worn, free off charge, by other players who visit his island.
According to the player, the virtual protest was inspired by the way Animal Crossing users in Hong Kong playfully staged rallies in their own virtual islands.
The widely participated Hong Kong street protests sparked by the now-scrapped extradition bill began around June of 2019. Pro-democracy and anti-government demonstrations, however, persisted until the social distancing policy was implemented.
Several residents however merely shifted their activism online and continued to call out for more democracy, as well as public figures such as, Chinese President Xi Jinping as well as Chief Executive of Hong Kong, Carrie Lam.
“The #Covid_19 pandemic has halted public demonstrations, so protesters are taking their cause to #AnimalCrossing... They have to put their ideal life into the game, and for HKers, we have to put our protest movement and our protest sites inside the game” High profile activist Joshua Wong tweeted in April.
Nintendo's fiscal year earnings report revealed ‘Animal Crossing: New Horizons’ smashed sales history, after selling ver 13 million copies in the first six weeks since its release, easily becoming the fastest selling Nintendo Switch title.
Meanwhile, Nintendo president Shuntaro Furukawa said in the company's recent investor's Q&A the games figures have already surpassed their “lifetime target.”
Photos are screenshots provided by the gamer.