Why Animal Crossing Has Become an Oasis for Creatives in Quarantine

Published May 14, 2020

There’s a good chance that you or someone you know is currently swept up in the whimsical joys of Animal Crossing: New Horizons. Last March, Nintendo released the fifth installment of its wildly popular “social stimulation video game,” which puts players on a deserted island, and lets them build a community from the ground up. The pleasures are simple and sweet: shake trees to see what falls out, go fishing, talk to an owl. It’s the opposite of stressful, which explains why Animal Crossing: New Horizons has become one of the breakout stars of quarantine, with legions of anxious people flocking to its calm and reassuring shores, just to hang out. And because of the game’s ability to let users customize their own designs, Animal Crossing has turned into a hub for creatives in search of a new outlet. Below, we asked some of our favorite designers, artists, and musicians, about what the game has meant to them.

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SANDY LIANG

Designer

“I started playing because I heard they came out with this new version. I had never played before but I love games like The Sims so I thought maybe this would be similar in some ways. I love gardening, watering my flowers, and trying to grow hybrids. I feel the most calm when watering my virtual flowers.”

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GIULIANO CALZA

Designer at GCDS

“I’m just living my life, fishing, traveling, and watching shooting stars at night.”

“I think it really helps the community stay connected and relate to each other by sharing a mutual hobby. A friend told me to join her and it’s kind of an addictive game. Beware. You’re able to play different roles like a fisherman, interior designer, and fashion icon at the same time. It’s cool how you have a multiplayer option and you can visit other islands and friends while you aren’t able to in real life right now. During the weekend I literally don’t touch my phone and I smoke much less, both hands are busy.”

 

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MARCELO GUTIERREZ

Makeup artist and filmmaker

“I started playing the game because I knew I’d have a lot of extra time on my hands in the months ahead, so I guess I did it to prepare for what was to come. I’m also one of those people who doesn’t necessarily believe that doing something every minute of the day is productive. Being productive also means doing nothing. My favorite thing about playing the game is dressing up my character, decorating my home, and planting a bunch of flowers. I also love seeing the sunset turn everything vibrant orange and pink.”

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NICHOLE SHINN

Artist

“Hi! Come vibe on my island Lothlorién anytime! 🙂 We have every fruit and friendly villagers. I am always looking for new friends to visit.”

“It’s oddly coincidental that it was released when quarantine was initiated, but it has been a great social and mental salve to isolation. I know it’s helped my mental health and left me feeling motivated to reach certain goals, like collecting and sending special items to friends. I co-run an independent publishing project called TXTBooks, and we thought it could be a good idea to use Animal Crossing: New Horizons as a platform to connect with our community by putting on a ‘painting’ show using the in-game pattern maker. We created themed rooms, hung the work, and opened the island for a day.  It was super fun and rewarding to have something to look forward to and to have people come into a curated ‘space’ that is uniquely creative. Also, I love catching every bug and fish and filling out the index as a collector.”

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HANA

Musician

“I love life in Hanalulu. Here I am working on my latest album, HANADRIEL, in my studio!”

Animal Crossing: New Leaf is one of my all-time favorite games, and the thought of an Animal Crossing game on the Nintendo Switch has been my dream. New Horizons has delivered on so many levels. I’ve been playing and streaming with friends and fans over the past month and a half, and it’s brought us so much joy. Being able to visit each other’s islands and trade game secrets has brought me a sense of togetherness that I need horribly. I go into a meditative state when playing this game, especially when I’m reorganizing my flowers or furnishing my house. It’s all just so cute and positive. Everything about the game pulls me out of any negativity or depressive state I may be feeling. It was my saving grace at the beginning of the quarantine when I was feeling extremely overwhelmed by the news.”

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ANNA SUI

Designer

“When I saw Animal Crossing imagery, I thought the characters would look so cute wearing Anna Sui—I think the aesthetics of the game play into the “kawaii” part of my brand. I love that the game gives you a space to fantasize and dream. I think fashion is such an important part of that creation of fantasy.”

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MXMTOON

Singer 

“I started playing my first Animal Crossing game in 2007 with Wild World. I played New Leaf, and then pre-ordered New Horizons so I could play it immediately when it came out. It’s helped me and my friends hang out with each other throughout the craziness of the world, and my mom and I even play together in the evenings while we watch a movie. I love how calming it is. It truly feels like a little escape from how overwhelming the world can be. The music is my favorite aspect, and I adore how you have songs that you can remember from past games mixed with the updated score.”