Arts & Culture
New Horizons Discovered in Quarantine
A classic videogame has gained new relevance during the COVID-19 pandemic.
On March 20, Animal Crossing New Horizons was released world wide for the Nintendo Switch. Animal Crossing has been a Nintendo staple since its initial release in 2001, which was followed by four generations of the video game. Though these iterations of the game grew in popularity, none of them compare to the hype surrounding New Horizons, which sold a record number of copies.
Animal Crossing New Horizons boomed in popularity during last spring’s lockdown because it was discovered during a time in which many people were alone in their homes, unable to socialize. It was especially popular among Gen Z and millennials who had grown up with the game or were exposed to it through social media during quarantine. Sophomore Anna Blackman started playing a week after its release because, “during quarantine it gave me something to do! Doing all the little tasks helped me with my anxiety about not being productive.” It provided comfort and purpose in a time when many people felt stuck and unfilled.
Animal Crossing New Horizons is a social, world building game where players design a town/island and invite friendly animal villagers to move in. In addition, players are able to catch bugs, deep sea creatures and fish and collect art and fossils in order to expand their museum. Players work towards advancing their island so that pop sensation K.K. Slider will come and host a concert, making their island popular among villagers. In addition to K.K. Slider, there are several non-player characters who visit a player’s island in order to sell clothes, plants, art, or even hold bug and fish catching competitions. Junior Erik Bodien enjoys how “Animal Crossing doesn’t have an end goal. With the customization and simple tasks, the game is great for just relaxing.”
The game also allows for players to visit their friends’ islands through an airport so that they can play together, which became incredibly popular during quarantine as friends and families were unable to see each other. Senior Britney Plumley started playing Animal Crossing in May following its popularity on TikTok. “I’m an only child, so quarantine was especially lonely for me, and ACNH allowed me to go visit my friends’ islands & ‘hang out’ with them.” Animal Crossing offers not only a creative outlet, but also a mode of connection for those who are separated from the people they love due to the Coronavius.
Because there is such a diverse amount of activities and chores to do in the game, it makes for a captivating pastime. The game takes place in real time and is meant to be experienced throughout the year as there are special events, new fish and bugs every month, rare flowers to grow, and seasonal items to collect. Though the main goal of the game is to advance your island to 5 stars, players work to expand and develop their house, complete their museums, and collect 10 villagers on their island. Freshman Forrester Gibbs needs this outlet because, “it’s a simple way for me to control my own little world and change it however I’d like. It’s something peaceful that I always have at my beck and call that I can use to help get myself in a better state of mind.”
Animal Crossing New Horizons has become internationally recognized for the role it’s played for people in quarantine. It provides creative expression, purpose and socialization in a time that limits human interaction and creativity. It has been a necessary product for many who needed it in order to take care of their mental health and distract themselves from what was outside of their control.