Animal Crossing And Asthma: When Asthma Thoughts Infiltrate An Unrealistic Virtual Existence

The year is 2020: we are all staying home more than usual, and video games can be purchased without even setting down your device. And like many of you, I am playing Animal Crossing.

For those of you in the loop, I started off with New Leaf for my 2DS, which nobody was playing anymore, clearly, back in May. In early July I learned the Switch Lite existed and days later had upgraded to this and New Horizons. I basically work, listen to books and podcasts, play this game, and watch CNN, the latter two reflective of the current situation in the world.

And so, because there is enough difficulty in the world nowadays, I will share with you: every so often I play Animal Crossing: New Horizons and think what if this was real life?

A thought experiment

Okay so clearly real life is NOTHING like video games, Animal Crossing especially. It’d probably be terrifying to wake up to Bluebear the… um, blue bear cub… and Bob the purple cat as my next-door neighbors. Good thing I’m not allergic to animal dander. Or mollusks, a type of shellfish that includes my fictional neighbor Marina the pink octopus (who knew octopus were classified as shellfish?).1

Then we have the part where you, you know, literally spend all your time walking or running around doing intensely physical tasks. Chopping wood. Hitting or smashing rocks with shovels. Crafting stuff, which often involves wood and illustrates a fast-moving array of stuff basically nestled in a dust cloud. Good thing I’ve got my fake mask on! Digging up fossils (which looks much easier than it should). Catching bugs in a net. Shaking trees to get money or fruit. Catching wasps or running away from them.

And let's be honest: I suck at running in real life. It is the worst type of exercise I’ve never managed to figure out how to do (but maybe I just don’t want to!) and why would I not want to get virtual places faster? So I hold down that B-button to run at all times. (Except when I don’t want to trample flowers.)

I’d be in really darn good shape if this game were real life, honestly. And props to all of you who do physical labor jobs—huge props.

I always have asthma on my mind

This is one of the weirder things about playing Animal Crossing with asthma: I still think about asthma.

I’ve got a virtual air conditioner and fans in my house that are not pretty but, my god, Fake Me is not getting hot (and my house in the previous game had a dehumidifier in it while I played in early summer!). For some reason I can get a fragrance diffuser and incense related stuff but not an air purifier.

I don’t even put the diffuser out in my NOT REAL HOUSE, I gave it away! I don’t even want to put the incense sticks out in my outdoor meditation area, but they look pretty, so I did. I wear a mask in this game because it’s become this weird part of me in these strange times (also because it’s helpful with my in-game “crafting” and the resultant “sawdust”?!).

Also, I can only imagine if you’re a person who is allergic to any of the fruits in the game that you are to eat for energy. It was weird when I started eating in-game oranges, something I started having minor reactions to many years ago. What if you’re allergic to coconut or apples or peaches or pears or oranges or cherries? Does anybody with allergies to these things find it weird to eat them in-game? Do you SELL THEM because of it?

Also, does the generic medicine that treats everything work on asthma, too?

I have so many questions.

The effect of our own lens

Realizing I have these thoughts, even if fleeting, while playing Animal Crossing is interesting. It truly shows us how much we see the world - even the fictional bits - through the lens by which we experience it in real life.

Are these thoughts something you’ve experienced playing video games with asthma? Does it happen with every game you play or just some? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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