Why Animal Crossing: New Horizons is the Best Game of 2020

Over the course of 2020, I have witnessed a complete media frenzy over Animal Crossing: New Horizons. All over my social media feeds, people have been going crazy about the game, praising it as one of their top quarantine past-times. Many people played Animal Crossing in their childhoods, so the release of New Horizons has allowed them to reconnect with the joys of their youth.

I, for one, didn’t understand the hype. I never played Animal Crossing as a kid (I was a bigger fan of Super Mario Bros, Cooking Mama, and Nintendogs), so I didn’t feel any of the intense feelings of nostalgia many others felt upon the release of New Horizons. I’ve also never really been much of a “gamer,” particularly because many mainstream video games seem highly competitive, which tends to stress me out. But to my surprise, for my birthday this past September, my boyfriend generously gifted me a Nintendo Switch along with Animal Crossing: New Horizons. He kindly suggested that playing it could be a fun hobby for me and a way to help me release stress.

Alright, let’s see what all of this hype is about,” I thought to myself as I popped the game cartridge into the Switch. “How can a game involving tasks as simple as ‘collect twigs’ and ‘pick cherries’ possibly be so exciting?”

But to my surprise, the simplicity of the game is what made it so worthwhile. We all live busy, fast-paced, and sometimes overwhelming lives. As college students, it can sometimes feel like we’re living from assignment to assignment, just trying to go through the motions to keep up with our demanding amounts of schoolwork. Especially amid the COVID-19 pandemic, it can often feel like our school days just blend into one another as a conscious stream of work that never really ends. It can feel depressing and exhausting.

In the midst of my currently tumultuous and tiring life, Animal Crossing allows me to slow down. When I enter the game, I’m entering a world that I’ve designed and that can move at my pace. I don’t have to worry about the upcoming deadlines or the fact that I haven’t seen my friends in many months. Instead, I can just momentarily focus on simple activities, like collecting fossils, building fishing poles out of tree branches, and picking flowers.

As silly as it may seem, Animal Crossing has provided me with much-needed opportunities to stop and take breaks when I am feeling overwhelmed. Playing it in the evenings is a great way to help me unwind after a stressful day and take a temporary break from dwelling on my worries. If you also struggle with anxious and stressful feelings or have been feeling easily overwhelmed over the past few months, I suggest giving Animal Crossing: New Horizons a try if you get the opportunity (even if you aren’t a “gamer”).