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Animal Crossing during COVID-19

Project dates: 2020 to 2023

Animal Crossing: New Horizons for the Nintendo Switch was a highly anticipated release in March 2020. Amongst fans, the franchise was well-known for producing media that is mentally restorative and relaxing for mental wellbeing. However, the release of this latest game in the series was also timed with the COVID-19 lockdowns for 2020. As a result, its fan-base grew exponentially, with over 26 million sales made by the end of 2020.

This research takes a digital ethnographic approach to explore the appeal of this game, and how its design facilitated the wellbeing of players during the initial lockdowns. It opens up our understandings of how the digital, cuteness and wellbeing intersect. Drawing on discourse and media production in fan spaces online as well as through in-game interviews with players, Megan explores how cute design, customisability and the cosy game format provided comfort to players during this critical time of the pandemic.

English 日本語