When it comes to dating in quarantine, we’ve all been forced to get a little more creative with our online interactions. Whether we’re talking about Zoom orgies or FaceTime Tinder meet ups, digital hangouts on every possible platform have taken over. This also means social simulation games like Animal Crossing and Club Penguin have become great places for people to go on dates together.
As billions of people around the world are self-isolating at home, it makes sense that Club Penguin — or rather, the “Rewritten” remake of the popular original — has seen a huge increase in student users since the beginning of quarantine, while the launch of Animal Crossing’s New Horizons edition has become the talk of Twitter. After all, both are games that take place in virtual worlds where you can meet up with other players, chat and do activities together, which make them perfect places for digital hangouts.
That said, there is a bit of a difference when it comes to dating via these two games due to the way they’re structured. Club Penguin is an open world where you’re surrounded by other users, while Animal Crossing user Damian* said he thinks the game’s one-on-one experience of going to hang out on another person’s island makes things feel more intimate.
sometimes you gotta turn club penguin into a dating website. pic.twitter.com/93tZVXvz7X
— 🧚🏻♀️💕 (@SinfuIFairy) April 14, 2020
“It’s almost like getting someone’s number, because having them visit your island is kind of like inviting them to your house,” he said, explaining that “it’s a pain to get to an island.” According to him, you still have to go to the airport and fly there, which means you have to be a little more determined to go on dates with someone in Animal Crossing.
“They get to see your house and plants, and you have to trust them not to steal,” Damian added, saying that the experience of hanging out with someone on their island has been a “wholesome and cute way to flirt” through chatting, participating in virtual BBQs, or gifting each other useful tools to help their overall progress in the game.
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“It’s a fun way to hang out, because you’re not fucking,” he laughed, “It’s like, ‘You’re on my island, let’s give each other gifts. Here, I know you’re stuck, so I’m going to give you a ladder.'”
Additionally, Damian also said that he sees Animal Crossing as an easy way for singles in particular to connect with their crushes. As he explained, sometimes casual hangouts can turn into more — something that also led him to compare it to a less overt way of “sliding into their DMs” late at night.
“The game updates in real time, so you can see when someone’s on and be like, ‘Can I get your island code,'” he said, showing how one of Animal Crossing’s big appeals is that you can get together with someone without being so direct. “You can talk to your crushes without being so forward. It’s a good way to connect with someone you wanted to talk to, but may have never had an excuse to in a funny, safe way. And you can get close if you’re playing together every day.”
Singles aren’t the only ones using Animal Crossing and Club Penguin to hang out. In fact, many long-distance couples have been using both games to go on virtual date nights together.
After all, as Canadian Club Penguin user Sophie said, while she and her UK-based boyfriend have still been FaceTiming regularly, “During quarantine, we’ve done everything but go on a virtual date like this, so it was a whole new experience. We’re long distance, so we have to find virtual stuff to do together.”
Sophie was a Club Penguin regular at its peak, but she said she had “kind of forgotten about it” until seeing a Twitter post about CP Rewritten. And though her boyfriend had never played, they both decided to create accounts so that they could go on a virtual date to celebrate their six-month anniversary — something Sophie said was an incredibly fun, nostalgia-inducing experience for her.
my gf and i dating on my island #AnimalCrossing #ACNH #NintendoSwitch pic.twitter.com/9mdgDu2vAo
— ★彡 (@bopeepwillow) April 20, 2020
“I loved reliving some of my childhood, and he enjoyed experiencing a part of childhood that he missed,” she said, noting how they spent hours playing games like hide-and-seek and hunting for treasure together. “I think that by going on these dates, they allow for us to relive old memories and make new ones together.”
Even after quarantine ends, they plan to continue going on Club Penguin dates because “games like these let us try to imitate IRL dates, as we are currently unable to,” she said.
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Similarly, long-distance couple Jo and Stephen have been using Animal Crossing to meet up virtually, as she lives in Belgium and he’s in the UK.
“Since the lockdown and the borders being closed we couldn’t meet up like we were supposed to, so we decided to both get Animal Crossing after seeing other people going on dates on the game,” they said. “On our first Animal Crossing date we visited each other’s islands and took loads of pictures together in the museum… sat by a campfire and talked a bit. It was very cute.”
Explaining that the game itself is “really addicting,” the couple went on to say that because new stuff is added to the game every month, they’re looking forward to continuing these dates and doing things like “seeing how far the other got with their museum.”
Jo added, “I think the people who go on dates in the game just want to be with their partner during these hard times and the game keeps us connected.” She said hanging out with Stephen on Animal Crossing has been an “adorable and fun” experience that “really makes this quarantine a bit easier.”
Ultimately, using these games has helped her feel better about the situation-at-hand, and would also prove beneficial to anyone else looking to connect with those they care about during these strange times.
“It really felt like we were meeting up even though it was just in a game,” she said. “I would recommend it to all the couples out there who are having a hard time coping with not being able to see each other in real life.”
*Name has been changed.
Welcome to “Sex with Sandra,” a column by Sandra Song about the ever-changing face of sexuality. Whether it be spotlight features on sex work activists, deep dives into hyper-niche fetishes, or overviews on current legislation and policy, “Sex with Sandra” is dedicated to examining some of the biggest sex-related discussions happening on the Internet right now.
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