The public narrative around Animal Crossing: New Horizons is that the game of life could not come at a better time. With people locked inside to avoid COVID-19, and the state of the garbage world, having a relaxing game is more than just an escape. It is a godsend.
And of course, Animal Crossing seems to be breaking sales records right now, as people flock to an island where hard work is always worthwhile and kindness is the rule of the land. But even though New Horizons"Reputation as a pardon, one of the most popular trends See players in medical masks, a curious reminder of borders beyond the Nintendo Switch game. On social media, medical masks are perhaps the most common outfit you'll see in shared screenshots. Even at Polygon, several employees also have characters in medical masks.
For some, like Sofía Lillo, it is partially a fashion statement; in fact, prior to the coronavirus pandemic, face masks were already popular in Asia and often sported celebrities like Billie Eilish. Some luxury brands are even starting to manufacture face masks amid the shortage in places like the US. USA
"I am a fan of Japanese street fashion," Lillo, who has been wearing a black mask in the game since its release, told Polygon by email. Clothing is a big part of Animal Crossing culture, and fans often compose multiple outfits depending on the occasion. There's even a wand in the game that, with one hit, causes a magical transformation between different character looks.
But for Lillo, it's not just about composing a killer outfit.
"It is a reflection of a life I would love to live now," continued Lillo. “Being able to run outside; Do things with friends and wear cute clothes while doing it! ”
Within the idyllic grounds of Animal Crossing, acquiring a face mask is as simple as pressing a button. Price doesn't make sense; simply catching and selling a couple of fish will cover it. The same cannot be said of real life.
"Unfortunately, I can't find masks," Kyrie Page, who had self-isolated through the pandemic, told Polygon by email. Instead, Page wears a digital face mask with almost every outfit in the game.
"The mask is more of a symbol," Page explained. “(It) helps me think cleanly in these difficult times. The fact that no villager comments on it also reminds me of when I lived in Japan, where wearing masks when you were sick was the norm and nobody gave you funny looks. "
Animal Crossing's face mask also acts as an upbeat symbol for players like Greg LeClair, who have jobs where they are in constant contact with other humans.
"There is a certain positive feeling invoked by the vision of (medical masks), as a person working on the heart of the matter, I really can't be constantly thinking about it," LeClair told Polygon on Twitter. "So when I see someone wearing one, I know they are at least aware of the role they can play in this disaster."
Facial masks aren't the only way 2020 has infiltrated Nintendo's alleged vacation. Fans also like to put up signs directing villagers to wash their hands, or they share media where they have built washing stations in order to eradicate viruses. The gamer Cat Law, who asks all visitors to the island to wash their digital hands for 20 seconds, tells Polygon that they've even taken it upon themselves to distribute face masks to other players.
The law also lives in Hong Kong, where not only are people expected to wear face masks in public, but they also reside in a country that has successfully suppressed the virus.
"That and social distancing seem to have been quite successful in curbing the spread of (COVID-19), so I wanted to encourage more people to think about masquerading, if supply is available in their area." said.
But role playing as quarantine areas in Animal Crossing takes more time and energy than just wearing a mask, which could explain why the accessory has become so prevalent in the community.
"While I recognize that it is a bit dissonant to want to keep a medical mask in a game that I am using to escape the stress of the pandemic, it is useful for me to project a little more security and care in my little world," New Horizons Player Nick Hahneman told Polygon. "I feel nice to be safe and considerate, even if it doesn't matter in the virtual world."
"There is also an element to clarify everything," he added.
Perhaps video games provide a safe outlet for laughing at something that would otherwise be terrible. In this, New Horizons It is not unique. Fallout 76 Players, for example, have begun to accumulate digital toilet paper, sometimes even raising prices to thousands of caps, the in-game currency. Elsewhere, in the medieval chaos game MordhauSome fans put on yellow protective gear that resembles hazardous material suits while pretending to test other inhabitants.
Joking about the coronavirus, which has become a meme, can give some players a sense of relief and comfort during a period when such feelings are rare. well, most of the time. Sofia Lillo points out that, in her adventures with friends, medical masks emerge in conversation.
"I've actually had friends of mine point it out to me and tell me it's giving them anxiety!" Lillo said. "I know consciously that I take it off when I visit a friend's island or they visit me, because I don't want anyone to feel uncomfortable while actively escaping like me."