In our uncertain and joyless times, everyone seems to look for and cling to anything that would click. A form of escapism? Most definitely. But then, with everyone subject to the very oppressive situation brought about by the pandemic, then yes, we can feel a bit entitled and get our entertainment in any way possible. In our case, these days, that source of entertainment can simply be stated in four words: Animal Crossing: New Horizons.

Those of us who are in the loop when it comes to news but do not own any Nintendo Switch have surely heard of it in passing. After all, you may have most probably heard of Lord of the Rings star Elijah Wood actually interacting with players whom he met in the game in real life. Yes, this is Coin Master (have you seen Jennifer Lopez ads of the game where she looks for people who attacked her village?) in real life. But not only Elijah Wood has gotten addicted to this game – other celebrities like Oscar-winner Brie Larson and Chrissy Teigen have also posted about the game in their social media accounts. Can you believe that even politician and media darling Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is a player, too?

So, before you get into the Animal Crossing: new Horizons bandwagon and surrender your dollars to Nintendo and hours to play the game, here is some background information. Good luck on not getting hooked, because we are pretty sure you will be.

The game

Animal Crossing: New Horizons is already the fifth title of the Animal Crossing franchise. Also, if you don’t have a Nintendo Switch, then you ill not be able to play it, because the game is only available on this gadget. So no, it is not an app-based game. But don’t worry about it being the fifth installment of Animal Crossing already. You don’t need to know how to play the first four installments of the game to play this fifth title.

There’s so much to do in Animal Crossing even though it’s going to read so simple. The TL;DR: you slowly build a delightful island using basic equipment like a shovel and an axe.

Why so popular?

The popularity of Animal Crossing may actually be attributed to the fact that there are so many scenarios you can get into even if you’re stuck at home because of the pandemic lockdown. By playing Animal Crossing: New Horizons, it is almost like the player is vicariously outdoors. And that works in our situation nowadays because we can only explore the outside world vicariously. Imagine if Pokémon Go was introduced now, where going out is highly discouraged? How can you catch Pokémon when you are confined in the corners of your home?

The game proceeds in an open-ended fashion, and players are allowed to forge their own paths at their leisure. Players can collect furniture, craft items, fish, catch bugs, customize their characters, talk to villagers, visit other islands, and gain Bells, which is the form of in-game currency. The open concept of the game has proved to be its defining feature, as players are hooked in by the escapism aspect of the game.

Growth in spite or because of the pandemic? 

Nintendo’s move to release this game during the pandemic is one genius move. In a world where everyone is looking for sources of indoor entertainment, the move to release a game is absolutely brilliant. No wonder Nintendo is reporting positive developments even during this anxiety-filled time.

“The number of consumers who started playing on Nintendo Switch because of this game continued to increase during the first quarter, from April to June 2020. Of all systems in the Nintendo Switch family that were played for the first time during this period, over half were used to play Animal Crossing: New Horizons on the first day.”

So popular it’s in pop culture

The game has become so popular that celebrities have poured praises on it through social media. With social media being the prime source of information for may these days, it is inevitable that people have taken notice of the game because of glowing endorsements from famous people they follow. In turn, artists have only hopped into the game’s bandwagon, finding ways to collaborate and take advantage of its popularity to positively affect them.

Selena Gomez recently debuted a stripped-down version of her newest track with Trevor Daniel, “Past Life,” in an unexpected place: a late night talk show on Twitch that exists entirely within Animal Crossing: New Horizons.

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