For the past 95 days or so, we have had nothing to do except follow the never-ending stream of trends that have emerged this quarantine season, whether it be baking, paint-by-the-numbers, or TikTok. With all the extra time on our hands, many of us in quasi-self-isolation have turned to video games to assuage our boredom – specifically Animal Crossing: New Horizons, the fifth and most recent installment of the Animal Crossing series. Since it was released, Nintendo has sold over 13.41 million copies of the game and it has gained a lot of online traction as users play for a sense of escapism.
You may be wondering why people are so obsessed with a game where you owe your entire life’s worth to a capitalist raccoon, Tom Nook, as payment for letting you live on a deserted island. What is so great about a game that is centered around paying off debt, has no end goal and no sense of adventure? What makes New Horizons better than other popular Nintendo Switch games like Mario Kart, Super Smash Bros, or Pokémon?
A big factor of the game’s attraction is the fact that it allows you to live the life you’ve always wanted but that is never within reach. New Horizons presents a semblance of utopia; a perfect world where you are in total control. You get to plan out your entire island, filling it shops, bridges, and residents to your heart’s content. The game gives you the chance to name a town, decide who lives where, and befriend all of your island residents. In a sense, it’s like you’re the mayor of a town without the need to actually run it.
Similarly, New Horizons allows you to go through the motions of day-to-day life without real world consequences. Though you can easily acquire debt, you can just as easily pay it off. Money is located all over the town, whether it be in rocks, trees, or otherwise. It gives children the ability to experience adult tasks like building a house, and gives adults the ability to live the quintessential American dream. Who wouldn’t want to live in a world where goals are always within reach? You hit rocks with shovels and get money. You shake trees and get new clothing, furniture, decorations or, once again, money. It seems like a pretty great world to live in. Plus, it let’s you explore hobbies you never had the desire to learn. That’s right! Animal Crossing: New Horizons let’s you learn those soft skills you can put on your resume when you apply to your next co-op job: butterfly catching, fossil hunting and guppy fishing.
Also, while it may not be Twitch-worthy, Animal Crossing presents a social aspect as well. If your friends have the game as well, you can go to their Visitor’s Centre and see their island for yourself. On the other hand, it lets you show off all the hard work you put into your island as well. Thus, it takes away the anxiety of talking on the phone or the stress of keeping up a conversation with your friend who only answers your texts with a ‘nm wbu?’.
Lastly, the game gives the player an odd sense of calm. From the scenic views to its pastel colour palette, it’s a great game to play if you’re feeling down. It’s pretty hard to stay upset when you are surrounding by soft colours, adorable characters, and the constant stream of peaceful background music.
And so, if you’re in need of an escape from the monotony of everyday life, spruce it up with the monotony of Animal Crossing: New Horizons. You won’t be sorry.