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  • Year: 2020

  • Role: Lead Researcher

  • Research Methods: Ethnographic Study, In-Depth Interviews, and Public Discourse Analysis

  • Research Type: Exploratory UXR 

This is a collaborative project with two lead researchers (Yuyu and Yunshu) exploring adolescents' social-emotional engagement with Animal Crossing.

Social-Emotional Engagement in Animal Crossing: News & Resources

Background and Goal

  • Background: The release of AC, a social life simulation video game produced by Nintendo, coincided with social distancing due to the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic and gained overwhelming popularity.

  • ​Goal: explores how media practices offer the potential for adolescents during social distancing to maintain social connections and develop social-emotional engagement

Social-Emotional Engagement in Animal Crossing: Text


​To analyze young adults’ social behaviors and emotional engagement inside and outside of the game, we conducted

  • ethnographic research

  • in-depth interviews 

  • public discourse analysis 

Social-Emotional Engagement in Animal Crossing: Text


In-Game Behaviors

  • The high level of customization of AC fosters players’ social-emotional engagement to create in-game individualized content and the implicated self-presentation.

  • AC facilitates social interaction with the in-game fictional characters, the reinforcement of existing relationships, and the extension of social networking.

External Behaviors

  • Transmedia Practices: Players can not merely simulate their offline social life in AC, but also bring the contents created in AC into social activities through various media channels.

  • Community Engagement: Young adults express their political viewpoints, cultural identities, and other voices through AC creation and share it to their community. By transporting like-minded people with similar concepts and interests together, AC communities facilitate social-emotional support.

Social-Emotional Engagement in Animal Crossing: Text


User Insights

  • Animal Crossing's customization features encourage young adult players to actively create content in the game and share their creations through appropriate social media channels to extend their social networks and strengthen social-emotional ties with others.

Design Suggestions

  • Animal Crossing’s high degree of customization is one of the crucial factors to its wide and rapid dissemination among young adults around the world. It is worth enhancing this game feature and bringing newer and more realistic customization features to engage more users.

Social-Emotional Engagement in Animal Crossing: Text
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