Animal Crossing: New Horizons on Nintendo Switch

If your 2020 experience was not accompanied by the soothing background music of this gently capitalist video game, this is the time to check it out – not only for the fun experience of playing, but because soon you may be able to visit the Davenport Library in-game! Keep an eye on our website and social media for more details on that programming opportunity. For now, here’s all the other reasons to try the game.

Animal Crossing is (and as I understand it, always has been) escapism at its finest. The idea is, your character has decided it’s time to get away from modern life, and so takes advantage of a unique opportunity: making a new home from scratch on an uninhabited island! In another game, this would be a grim process, probably involving dying of scurvy or dysentery along the way, but not in Animal Crossing. You’re taken under the wing of the Nook family — Tom, Timmy, and Tommy — who guide you every step of the way in creating your island paradise. (Incidentally, you also go pretty heavily in debt to the Nooks, but they’re nice about it and don’t charge interest.) You start out small, building tents, inviting villagers, upgrading to buildings, learning to craft things, catching bugs and fish for the local museum, and more pleasantly domestic tasks. Eventually, you can build bridges and ramps, or reshape the land itself. Everything turns on the idea of customization: lots of options are provided for you to make everything, from your own appearance and clothing, to island decor, to the island landscape itself, into whatever you want it to be.

If it sounds incredibly self-indulgent, it is – but the capitalism previously mentioned offers some valuable parallels to the real world, including using a banking terminal, depositing money in an account, selling items to make a profit, paying off loans, etc. The game is also seasonal and continually updated: each season corresponds to real life in both weather and wildlife, with a number of festivals and holidays bringing special in-game events.

There’s also an excellent social component of the game: a good deal of your success revolves around building good relationships with your adorable animal villagers, recruiting others, making sure everybody gets along, and just generally making the island a nice place to live. Eventually, with the proper memberships and resources, you can visit other players’ islands and share gifts. As previously mentioned, this means you can also visit the library’s island paradise, coming soon! If you’re looking for a gentle, social escape video game, I recommend giving Animal Crossing a try.

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