Animal Crossing Switch version, New Horizons, has been a heap since it released in March this year, when COVID19 happens. As an online multiplayer social game, this game triggers interesting player behaviors and several phenomenological events, as it has been popular and widely discussed in the Internet.
Presently, people are facing challenging times as everyone is forced to stay apart due to social distancing measures that result from the COVID-19 pandemic. During this time, online multiplayer games, such as Animal Crossing in Nintendo Switch, become more and more popular. From social media posts, news and blog sites, we found that more and more people tend to connect with their friends and families, even strange players, via online games like Animal Crossing. Therefore, we are interested in exploring how players are connecting with other players, and how players collaborate through virtual activities in these online multiplayer games to stay virtually connected despite the “social distancing” constraint to be physically apart. Here are our primary research questions:
- Why are people playing Animal Crossing and how are they playing it? Do the game provide the players with feelings of being socially connected?
- What are the major ways of communication and collaboration in Animal Crossing? How do players communicate with each other and what do they do together?
- How may Animal Crossing change players’ emotions and social behaviors over distance due to social distancing measures? Does it help people with their mental conditions during COVID19 pandemic?
We first conduct a remote study via online questionnaires and then semi-structured online interviews to answer these research questions.
Data collection and analysis in progress.
The study outcomes will help us learn about the players’ experience playing the multiplayer online game, Animal Crossing, and how they might be changed mentally or behaviorally, specifically during the COVID-19 pandemic. Further, where appropriate, we would like to extract game design mechanics and guidelines for future collaborative online games or virtual worlds. Such guidelines may, in turn, help people become or remain more socially connected and in a positive mood when they are required to quarantine at home.
The manuscript will be submitted to ACM CHI 2021 this year.
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