I finally did it. I finally got my friends to play video games with me.

During quarantine, I’ve naturally found myself spending many more hours playing games on my PC. Not a particularly strange change in behavior, but my friends had noticed and begun to ask for recommendations. I was so excited — finally! Someone who may understand the joys of Skyrim or Fortnite! They were looking specifically for games they’d always heard of but never had the chance to play, and with quarantine being what it is, now felt like the perfect time to dive in.

They showed an…

An analysis of Bunny Day and Balance

Banner for the Animal Crossing Bunny Day event ft. Zipper T. Bunny

Animal Crossing: New Horizons has received endless praise from critics and players alike since its release on March 20th. With a score of 91 on Metacritic and hundreds of fans eagerly sharing snapshots of original clothing/path designs, it’s clear that New Horizons is one of the best received games in 2020.

Recently, players experienced the first major transition in the game — the transition into spring. As trees bloomed with sakura flowers and new creatures became available to catch, players joyfully shared images of their new pink-laden islands. …

Screenshot from Stardew Valley

The newest editions to the Animal Crossing franchise hit the market by storm — the AC edition Switch remains sold out at every possible retailer, as does any and all related merch, and the New Horizons game established itself as the fastest selling Switch game to date. With a launch 3.5 times bigger than the previous 3DS game, New Leaf, it’s clear that Animal Crossing has a massive “it factor” among gaming communities.

And it’s not the only game to reflect a similar ”it factor” — Stardew Valley had sold over a million copies within the first two months of…

A friend of mine recently said to me, “You know, I’ve been meaning to play this horse game for a while. You just run around on a horse! Through different landscapes! Isn’t that fun!”

“Ooh, did it come out recently?” I asked.

“No, no, it came out a while ago I think, there’s cowboys in it maybe?” she replied. “It’s RedRed something?”

I looked at her, a little incredulous. “Do you mean Red Dead Redemption?”

“YES! That’s it, Red Dead Redemption! It’s been on my list for forever.” She exclaimed, “I love horses!”

That was a fully real conversation…

My mom has easily clocked in hundreds of hours on gardening games. My roommate is probably close to thousands of hours on various Sims games. A friend of mine (and other women online, apparently) has literally gotten carpal tunnel and had to wear a wrist brace from playing Stardew Valley so much.

Me? Well, I’ve personally achieved the coveted “Bronze Grandmaster 9” title for Spider in the Microsoft Solitaire Collection, which means I’ve played nearly 300 separate games of Spider. 300 games! Ha! And Microsoft calls their solitaire collection “casual” games!

Think of some popular playable video game characters. Maybe you think of Lee from The Walking Dead, or Nathan Drake from Uncharted. The famous Lara Croft from Tomb Raider, or John Marston from Red Dead Redemption. Many major games center around the perspective of a main playable character, and unsurprisingly, there are countless iconic characters across countless iconic franchises. Of course, having a protagonist makes sense — games are thought of as interactive and immersive entertainment, and what better way to craft such an experience than through the manipulation of a single, relatable, main character? Stories are easier to track…

Natalie Schmidt

Studying Game Design and Drama at CMU. She/Her.

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