It’s an early Sunday morning on Hierophant Island. The weather is clear and a gentle breeze brushes through the coconut trees I have planted right outside of my home. “I know she’s here,” I think to myself as I explore the beach, looking for shells to sell at Nook’s Cranny. “She’s got to be… Aha!” Every Sunday is turnip day on the island, and I plan on spending at least 500,000 bells on turnips today. Turnips are selling for ninety bells per turnip. Well, if I wait until about Wednesday or Thursday – sometimes I get lucky on a Tuesday – I’ll be able to visit another gamer’s island and sell those turnips for five-hundred bells each or more!
The turnip game isn’t one all Animal Crossing players partake in, but I do from time to time to score some extra coins, bells, so I’m better able to develop my island and home. The turnip lady has a bundle of turnips atop of her hat, and her nose is pretty drippy; I’ll make sure she uses some hand-sanitizer before I take anything from her. “Turnips, turnips! Watch ‘em rise! Try to earn a nice surprise!” Daisy Mae sings as the transaction is completed. Once I drop off these freshly purchased turnips at the house, I can get back to tending to Hierophant and its many residents. Hopefully I will have some fresh, black roses to harvest later.
I’ve never played a video game more than I have Animal Crossing: New Horizons. I didn’t buy the game initially, because I’d had Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp on my iPhone, and found myself bored with that game, nor have I any experience with older versions of Animal Crossing. A few months after New Horizons was released, and after listening to a friend via zoom about how great it was, I finally caved and bought the game for my Nintendo Switch. Fast forward to today where I’ve managed to beat the game before S, and my island is way more developed than his. Yes, yes, hell just may be freezing over.
S had been telling me since before the game was released that I would like it, and that the game was perfect for me. The thing is, though, is that video games were never anything that held my interest for extended periods. I’ll play a game off and on for a week or so, only to put it down for weeks until I’m ready to play again. I only own a handful of games because I enjoy those games, and I’m never really scrolling through the catalog looking for what’s new. Sidenote: I barely have games on my phone either. I like Mario Kart, I love Splatoon 2, and you know I have my Pokemon games for nostalgia’s sake.
Quarantine and living in the age of COVID has brought out all kinds of new habits for most of us. Some will hear “gaming” or playing video games as a negative activity – only because our parents may have beat it into our heads that gaming is a waste of time – but I promise you, that no brain cells were damaged or lost while enjoying this game. Getting back to Animal Crossing: New Horizons specifically, the game has been a fun, light, and creative outlet for me during quarantine. I’ve mentioned plenty of times on the blog that you have to take care of yourselves and do more of what you enjoy. I’ve been very much glued to this game in my downtime (laughs out loud).
Working from home can be great some days, and terrible the next. It’s hard if you don’t really know how to “turn it off” and decompress after you log off for the day. Some of us never truly log off! There are days where I stack so much on my personal plate and to-do lists, that I get overwhelmed and ignore my tasks altogether. I’ll work a full day, then try to put in more screen time working on podcast or blog tasks, without giving myself time to recharge before jumping right into more work. Having an outlet, like playing this video game, has helped me get back to relaxing in an old, but familiar way.
Before I go any further, I guess I should describe the game itself. Remember – I’m not one of these expert video game people who can provide you an extensive history about this game. In my own words and interpretation of this game, I would say that Animal Crossing: New Horizons is a simulation game. The goal of the game is to build up an island, invite other characters to move and live there, and to keep developing your island and community. It reminds me a lot of The Sims, before The Sims became so involved.
If you’re a fan of the old PC Sims game, you know what I’m talking about. I loved The Sims when all you had to worry about was building your house and keeping the characters alive. Now you have to send them to work and actually make them do the work, and somehow, that killed the fun for me. I had just enough fun building and decorating the virtual homes I’d designed, and having my characters live in them. The game was so enjoyable for me because you didn’t have to invest too much attention into what was going on, the game itself was visually appealing, and it was way more fun to play the game with the sim people living in their homes and interacting with family and neighbors.
I’ve been enjoying Animal Crossing: New Horizons so much because it gives me the same vibes, and warm and fuzzies, that the PC version of The Sims did. It’s been such a nice and welcome escape from work, COVID-19, processing feelings surrounding Black Lives Matter and all of the other social injustices we’re currently fighting as a country. During a very heavy time, this game has kept my spirit light and balanced. It’s colorful, YOU’RE ON AN ISLAND (for crying out loud), and playing the game itself is very simple and easy to follow. Think of The Sims, but you’re on an island, with a home of your own, and you help take care of the town and local residents.
Let me share some info about my island and describe some of my favorite things to do in the game with you:
My island is named Hierophant after my favorite Tarot card, The Hierophant. This specific card represents seeking knowledge and mentorship. If this card is pulled in a reading, it usually means that the time has come for you to take your education or exploration of a topic to the next level. Take a class and connect with a teacher of sorts to help enhance your current knowledge. I love learning, so this seemed like a great island name.
I’ve recently decided that the theme of my island will be all stone, with black and white flowers. The game itself is very colorful, but I feel like having a chic and dark kind of vibe will make it a fun and mysterious place. My house is currently black stucco with a black stone roof, I’ve got a huge stone archway built for visitors to walk under as they enter my island, and lovely pops of color from all the fruit trees I have planted around the town square. Right outside of my house I have a campfire, where residents can come and join me throughout the day for some s’mores. I positioned my house right off of the water and have a shell wreath on the door. It’s also pretty cool because the weather changes based on where you are in the world.
Some of my favorite things to do in ACNH include: fishing, diving for sea creatures, shopping at the local clothing and general stores, sending friends gifts, growing specific types of flowers, decorating my home, changing up my daily looks, and visiting other islands.
A really cool feature of this game is that the island can really become whatever you want it to be. I’ve beat the game already, so with that came the ability to redesign the island itself; creating new rivers, ponds, cliffs, and valleys. One of the many tasks you have in the game is filling the museum with fossils, creatures, and artwork you collect. Even though I’ve beat the game, there’s still plenty more I can do to keep growing and developing my island. With the seasons come different things to discover, so I’m never bored playing this game. I’ve recently completed moving some buildings and trees around to make room for some construction I plan on doing this week. I’ll have to tweet out pictures from my switch as I make updates!
In the end, this game is a great way to escape the darkness and heaviness of the world right now, and has been such a cool outlet for creativity. The first thing I do most mornings is get in some time playing Animal Crossing: New Horizons, to start the day off on a light note. There’s always something to look forward to with this game, and it’s totally one of those games that you can spend hours playing, or just a handful of minutes and be satisfied. Don’t let anyone tell you that this doesn’t count as a self-care practice, because clearly, they have no joy in their lives. Whether you’re a heavy gamer, and play all those complicated, mission-style games, or if you’re completely new to the video game world, take it from me, this game just may be for you.
P.S. Here’s a trailer of the game. You can find tons of game-play content on YouTube as well. Thanks for reading!