Self-isolation in the pandemic era has forced new discoveries in individuals, couples and families everywhere.
We all have not seen each other this much in years or maybe we never have.
When all the dust settles, Nintendo's Animal Crossing may be marked as a symbol of these times as much as toilet paper and hand washing.
It's safe to say Animal Crossing, available on the Nintendo Switch, has swept the self-isolated nation. When the real world is so chaotic, embodying a little cartoon animal and building your own world offers refreshing control in a tender package.
But even when hours gaming feels therapeutic, there is a line. Redditor mephistopheles_cania feels his wife may have crossed that line.
He took to the subReddit "Am I The A**hole" (AITA) to see if he also crossed a line in his response to his wife's Animal Crossing addiction.
He kicks off his story with the nitty gritty.
"She hasn't bathed, changed clothes, or done any household things since Animal crossing/doom released. I pre-ordered both and a few more things for her as a semi early anniversary gift and she absolutely loves them... Too much."
He even attempted to intervene and meet her halfway on simple hygiene.
"I understand excitement but once it got close to a week I made a bath for her and she said she'd get to it later."
"Later, as in 2 hours when the water was cold so she was no longer interested. After that I'd remind her every other day before work but no luck."
And the side effects even spilled over into other basic needs beyond bathing.
"I'd come home and she'd still be in the same clothes, playing something, and 'starving' half the time because she'd get too into the game and forgot to eat. I'd cook supper and hear about her day, which would always be game accomplishments."
When the narrator tries to wrap his head around what's going on, he's totally at a loss.
He explains a puzzling aspect of her obsession with the cartoon life.
"She has no known mental health problems and it's definitely not depression, in fact it feels quite the opposite. She gets super happy and excited about almost anything and bad news is always faced with optimism."
"I knew she'd cling to the games but I would have never imagined it being this bad."
Nowhere else to turn, he tried a desperate solution that turns out to only fan the flames.
He was too late.
His wife had developed conviction and pride in her new life without bathing.
"Today she was able to start playing a new one I pre-ordered and admitted she's probably not leaving the room for a day or so. I outright asked that she takes a shower before she starts paying but that didn't go well because she's really looking forward to it."
For the narrator, that was the breaking point.
"I had had enough. It's gross and I already moved to the couch a week ago so I explained that if she wants to live that way fine, I'll be moving to our shed (it has AC and power so it's not bad at all) until she bathes."
"That upset her because she felt like she was being treated like a child and being forced to do things. I told her she was acting like a child and started packing my sh*t."
After his unclean wife called him a huge jerk for putting his foot down, the narrator wonders how guilty he ought to feel.
That's where Reddit comes in.
Some comments simply took his side, reminding him how ridiculous his wife's been acting.
"She should be the one to move to the shed if she wants to live like an animal. I just looked up the release date of animal crossing and it was 3 weeks ago today."
"The fact she's not had a wash in 3 weeks by choice is horrendous." -- andwhiskersonkittens
"There is a fine line between having fun and letting a game consume you. It sounds like she isn't showering, changing her clothes, cleaning, cooking, or pulling any weight at all."
"That isn't sustainable for more than a day or two. I'm sorry you're going through this and I hope she wakes up soon." -- fromthesamestory
"My husband and I would be having a talk if either of us hit 3 days without showering. Over a week is way too long." -- insertusernameplease
"Act like a child, get treated like a child. Also, your wife needs a job." -- RandallFlagg74
"No one gets to avoid all responsibilities to play a silly game. Showering takes 10 min, she's being silly. She must reek, I don't blame you! But I'd be making her stink up the shed instead of my bed!!!" -- Northern-lurker1
Many comments went further than identifying blame.
Plenty of people made comments about serious mental health issues that may be manifesting.
"Just because it manifests in positivity doesn't mean she isn't depressed."
"I'd really recommend encouraging her to seek some kind of help and you need to be extra supportive. Making her take care of herself (kindly!) is sometimes necessary." -- Diarslade
"This isn't normal behavior - it's compulsive behavior and almost seems like addiction. It's interrupting her normal life - which presumably would usually involve showering - so this isn't normal."
"It might be worth talking to her about why she has abandoned her normal life and taking care of herself for these games." -- MsB0x
"This behavior meets the definition of addiction: 'A brain disorder characterized by compulsive engagement in rewarding stimuli despite adverse consequences.'"
"Basically, playing the game lights up her dopamine (reward center) and that feels so good that she'll let her hygiene and health suffer." -- April_Spring_1982
"She's an adult and needs to come to reality about the situation, honestly I'd start limiting how long she could play before needing to take a break and go do something else." -- xxclownkill3rxx
"It is possible she is really struggling with coping with the social distancing/staying at home/ people dying/ healthcare system getting overwhelmed/ people losing their jobs/ most of us have no control/no way to help..."
"This falling into video games might be her way of coping." -- Coraline1599
The narrator provided no update about the situation. Perhaps he heeded the comments and she is partaking in video-chat therapy sessions.
Though he could still be out in the shed, clean as a whistle.