The Park Bench on Main Street

Better With Audio!

“I’ll Keep You Safe” | Atlas: Year One · Sleeping at Last


Each post this month is set to a different track from this amazing album. “I’ll Keep You Safe” is about taking comfort in the world around you.

The sound of the branches breaking under your feet
The smell of the fall and the burning of leaves
The bitterness of winter or the sweetness of spring
You are an artist, and your heart is your masterpeice

Every Animal Crossing player suffers the inevitable fate of losing interest in or getting too busy for their town. When that happens to me, I always feel the need to write a letter of apology to Isabelle. I think it is time, however, to write a letter not of sorrow but of reflection.

Animal Crossing

Dear Isabelle,

Today I came back to Solitude for the first time in, according to the Gyroid east of the pier, 564 days. I didn’t talk to anyone — I wasn’t interested in having it out with the few villagers still calling this place home. I just picked the few weeds I came across — you are doing such a great job enforcing the Keep Solitude Beautiful ordinance I put in place.

It was bittersweet romp though, because so many people calling this place home had moved on to bigger and better things, myself included. Simply, the real world beckoned, and continued to do so for years.

I walked over to Main Street, sat down on the park bench, and reflected. The camera panned upwards to reveal the big full moon, bright shining stars, and the waves of the ocean below.

Isabelle, I’m sorry I haven’t been around in a while. But then again, perhaps I’m not too sorry. You see, I enjoyed my time in Solitude more than anything in the world. It was a safe place for an introvert like me, who was improperly equipped with the social graces many were lucky enough to have been given growing up.

Life is a challenge, and climbing into bed with my 3DS to run around the town felt like getting into a warm shower after a long day. I, like so many other Animal Crossing players, dealt with my own social and mental struggles in the real world. It was so nice to live in a world where I could do what I want, when I want, and achieve a positive result. And it was great to feel important for a change, especially in a real world so bent on every person for themselves.

But Isabelle, a funny thing happened. I started to learn, evolve, and find the real me. Suddenly, the types of interactions I was having in the real world mirrored those in Solitude. I was saying encouraging things to people, making them happy by helping them out, and earning my place in life based on the overwhelming force of my positivity.

As harsh as this is going to sound, I found myself no longer needing Solitude — as if somehow I could design my own based off of the people, places, adventures, and items I had around me. Writing became my go-to tool for expressing myself, and I discovered that interacting with people, for the most part, is only as complex as you make it out to be.

But don’t think you didn’t play a part in this. Isabelle, you taught me to be kind to people no matter what. And that the harder I push against the darkness, the more I can craft my own realistically positive world around me. Most importantly, you showed me that, no matter what darkness comes my way, Solitude will always be there. Even if it’s not a collection of pixels and sounds behind a screen, Solitude will always be there.

Isabelle, I have no doubt I’ll be seeing you again. This time, may it not be because I need you for my very own wellbeing, but rather just because I want to be your friend. And thank you for all of your hard work to keep Solitude beautiful.



What video game world could you live in? What emotions does it inspire in you? Let us know in the comments!

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Adventure Map
Introduction: Pixel for Your Thoughts: A 30-Day Video Game Reflection Challenge
Previous: It’s Only an 8-Bit Moon | Day 1 · Pixel For Your Thoughts
Next: Just a Boy, Nothing More | Day 3
Related: Guest Post: Animal Crossing is My Solitude
Inspired by: A Geeky Gal’s 30-Day Video Game Challenge
Response to: VGC Day 2 – What game can you just “live” in the world?
Into anime? There’s a challenge for that too!



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