Recovery and Support: Motivations for Playing a Social Video Game in the Midst of a Pandemic


  • Hyerim Cho
  • Jin Ha Lee
  • Alex Urban


Animal Crossing: New Horizons, COVID-19, social support, recovery experiences, mood regulation, metadata


A social simulation game, Animal Crossing: New Horizons, has attracted considerable attention during the pandemic and was lauded for being helpful to players’ mental health in numerous media coverages and prior research. Looking at Animal Crossing: New Horizons as a case study, we identify and understand which elements of the game specifically supported game players’ mental health and well-being under stressful situations to gain insights into new ways of organizing and providing access to other games that can provide similar kinds of support. The research team conducted an open- ended online survey with 135 participants. Results show that game players seek social support, freedom and control, escapism, and a sense of achievement by playing this game. Our study suggests different organizational elements in recommendation services and systems to provide enhanced search experiences for users seeking games to support their mental health and well-being.





@Conference{digra1953, title ="Recovery and Support: Motivations for Playing a Social Video Game in the Midst of a Pandemic", year = "2023", author = "Cho, Hyerim and Ha Lee, Jin and Urban, Alex", publisher = "DiGRA", address = "Tampere", howpublished = "\url{}", booktitle = "Conference Proceedings of DiGRA 2023 Conference: Limits and Margins of Games Settings"}