It’s only the beginning of April and 2020 has been the longest decade in the history of decades. I won’t bother going into detail because it’s only going to make me anxious, but for reasons I’m sure many of you share, I’ve been spending a lot of time at home. Much of that time has been dedicated to Animal Crossing New Horizons, because if it wasn’t, I’m not sure what I’d be doing.
Animal Crossing is a game about many things to many different people. To some, it might be about recreating a town from their favourite piece of pop culture or trapping all of their villagers in some bizarre purgatory. Others just want to have a cool town they can show off to their friends. All of these things are options for anyone who decides to embark on this lovely little journey.
To me: New Horizons is about creating a space for myself and my villagers. I decide where my plants and shops exist on my island because I want it to look nice and make me feel good. For me, that’s the game. If a tree or a rock grows in a spot I don’t like (yes rocks grow), I rip that bad-boy right out of the ground and put it in a place I deem “good.” I realise this is somewhat tyrannical, but this is my sandpit and I want to build my sandcastle.
Now, this isn’t the main reason why I am so happy to have a new Animal Crossing to play during the semi-lockdown Australia is currently experiencing. What really has helped me is the routine that New Horizons brings to my life. Very quickly, lots of the constants in my life have been put on pause or stopped altogether. Going out with friends, family dinners, university, they’ve all changed in a way that has caught me off-guard. Animal Crossing provides a consistent level of comfort I’ve been missing recently.
There is no better example of this than with the Island’s daily address. Every day, regardless of what time, Resident Services will provide a short announcement that sets the tone for the day. They’ll talk about any of the new openings on the island or events that might be happening. These reports help me work out what I am going to be doing on my island that day. I’m not going to receive a fucking tweet on my Nook phone telling me the world is exploding and the Able Sisters have closed due to Covid-19. It’s simply a good time going forward, with no risk. Escapism? Sure. But also mental care. A place I can go without being challenged.
The consistency that Animal Crossing New Horizons has brought to my recently disrupted daily routine cannot be overstated. I can have an awful day at work and an awful commute home, knowing that once I get there, I’ll have at least half an hour of bliss on my island. I’m thankful for it! We mentioned on the podcast this week but it’s worth bringing up again, this game couldn’t have come at a more perfect time. The world doesn’t deserve Animal Crossing, but I’m sure glad it’s here anyway.