This article originally appeared on VICE ASIA.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons emerged as the game of the pandemic because it somehow brings the things people love about the outdoors, within reach from their living rooms. But it looks like it can also work the other way around, with the game’s virtual world now impacting real-life situations. One recent case in Taiwan had the police using the game to track a person down.
A police station in Taipei’s Daan district had received a lost Nintendo Switch found at an ATM, but did not know how to contact its owner because the console did not contain any personal information, Taipei Police's Facebook Page reported. Then, one of the cops thought, why not use Animal Crossing?
In the game, players act as villagers and tend to their own land inhabited by cute animals. Players can interact with each other by sending letters to a “postbox.” The police contacted the friends of the Nintendo Switch owner by sending a message through this feature. The letter read: “Hello. This is the police station at East Helping Rd, Daan branch, Taipei City. The Switch has been parted from its owner and was turned in. We do not have other means to contact the owner, so please help us and reach out on our behalf so they can recover it.”
It worked, and the police eventually found the Switch’s owner. According to reports, the owner was playing with his Switch when he went to the ATM and did not realize that he had left it. Someone then found it, picked it up, and handed it over to the police station.
One of the owner's friends who received the police’s note was so impressed by the sleuthing that he shared screenshots in an Animal Crossing group.
“Thank you Mr. Police officer for your resourcefulness,” the friend said. “Thanks to your quick alert, my friend was able to regain his island.”
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