By Sarah Lin

If there is one industry booming during this era of social distancing and quarantine, it would undoubtedly be the gaming industry. Within such troubled times, people have escaped society to bury themselves into the virtual world behind gaming screens. One game that has taken over by storm would be Animal Crossing, otherwise known as the Dictatorship of Tom Nook

“Who is Tom Nook?” Those unfamiliar with Animal Crossing may be asking. 

Well, Tom Nook is the incarnation of greed and capitalism under the facade of a harmless 2D racoon.

Animal Crossing revolves around him and his financial demands. You do manual labour to pay off your mortgage to him. You can fish, plant, collect fruits and do all the daily things you miss doing while being stuck in quarantine. You can do anything, and for medical students, it has become the latest platform for practicing clinical skills.

Regina Honpotski, med student/Wattpad writer/bathroom singer, has bravely stepped forward to face the public eye. The Jugular conducted a Zoom meeting with Regina who appeared wearing the hottest trends – pyjamas, unbrushed bed hair and dark circles under her eyes.

Regina, what do you believe are the benefits of taking a patient history on virtual animals as opposed to humans?

“Well the big focus here is on patient-centred care, it is absolutely necessary for you to engage with your patients. There are definitely other platforms out there for clinical skills, but they’re all doing one thing wrong. They have failed to replicate the connection between patients and doctors over a screen. The screen is a barrier, I can’t connect with my patients. The only connection there is my Wi-Fi connection, and even that connection fails me…”

Regina looked down and wiped away a single tear, as she muttered something about being forever alone.

“Plus, there’s no diversity. If it’s all the same species of homo sapiens, how can we learn to be tolerant and understanding of one another’s  differences?”

Animal Crossing is also accessed through a screen, how do you plan to build a connection then?

“I’ve built a whole island on Animal Crossing, what else can’t I do there? Nintendo has made me invincible, powerful and absolute. Anything is possible.”

“And you know that there’s a character version of me in Animal Crossing, I’m physically in the world so there’s no need to worry. But if I’m video-chatting a fake patient, it doesn’t feel real enough. It feels synthesised, like an illusion.  I believe you need that full experience that you just can’t get through a screen. 

“Also it’s not just the animals. Other players can come to my island for clinical examinations. I’ve renovated my house into a clinic!”

Do you think it is too late to save the socialising skills of med students (if they weren’t already tragic enough)?

“Definitely not! We still have a chance to redeem ourselves, there is time. Just talk to the animals, visit each other’s islands and keep playing Animal Crossing! We will eventually shine with empathy and friendliness!”

Regina then proceeded to give a 15-minute speech on the benefits of Animal Crossing as the new clinical skills platform. Thanks to her, the pressing issue of current medical education that has been wracking the brains of university officials all over Australia has now been resolved.

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