Ode to Animal Crossing

Villager Hornsby explores the forest on the title screen of New Horizons.

The Animal Crossing series has been in development for almost two decades and fans have waited 8 years for New Horizons to release, but it certainly was worth the wait.

Over the past year, fans have been teased with information and screenshots via Animal Crossing’s official Twitter account. It finally came out on March 20, 2020 and sold a whopping 1.88 million copies in Japan. 

Animal Crossing: New Horizons takes the player on a getaway package to a deserted island where they’ll befriend villagers, fish, dig for fossils, catch bugs, and develop the land. This game introduces at least three new concepts to long-time players including crafting, terraforming, and Nook Miles.

New Horizons released right before spring break and also amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, allowing for many players to escape from the news and live a peaceful second life. 

Students, such as Junior Ashton Lien, have been using Animal Crossing to help them keep track of the passing days. “Animal Crossing has helped me keep track of the passing days which has kept me from forgetting to attend appointments.” The days can start to muddle together without a proper schedule, but Animal Crossing helps keep players aware of each passing hour. 

The game has also been a way to connect students to their friends who they are no longer able to see because of stay-at-home orders. “It’s given us something to connect about,” stated Lien. Freshman Kailani Piñon, who doesn’t even own the game, said that she has been able to connect with her friends and do art trades prompted by New Horizons. “It gave us the chance to do something purposeful but also relaxing during these iffy times.” 

Many students and people around the world are feeling afraid, lonely, and unsure about the world as we struggle through this pandemic, but Animal Crossing: New Horizons has allowed millions to find a way to combat those feelings. The game has managed to keep up the spirits of seniors like Jake Gillingham and Mickey Wolfe, who had their graduation and senior projects cancelled. “It gives me something to do during the stay-at-home order and it’s fun fishing and catching bugs to pay a raccoon back a home mortgage,” Gillingham joked. On the other hand, Wolfe is able to feel relaxed and in control by playing Animal Crossing during a time of anxiety and where a lot of things are out of their control. 

Though times are tough, Animal Crossing: New Horizons has allowed many people to escape from the news, panic, and dread being perpetuated by the ongoing pandemic. It’s been a safe-haven for many with anxiety, depression, or just those who are struggling to find motivation. As Junior Erika Dunning put it, “Animal Crossing is great anytime, but this one came out just when the world needed it most.”

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