Nintendo’s Animal Crossing: New Horizons was released just a few weeks into the coronavirus stay home orders and quickly became a major source of entertainment for people around the world. Video game experts even believe it’s on its way to becoming one of the highest selling Nintendo Switch games of all time.
So what is Animal Crossing and why are so many flipping on the Switch, rather than switching on TV? Animal Crossing is a social simulation game for the Nintendo Switch that allows players to create an avatar, and build their own world on an island. The island is run by the fictional raccoon tycoon, Tom Nook. The game has open-ended game play and syncs in real time with your console’s clock. That means if it’s daylight outside, it’s daylight in the game. Animal Crossing: New Horizons is the latest edition of the franchise which dates back to 2001.
Andrew Reiner is the executive editor at GameInformer.com and has been writing about Animal Crossing for decades. He says ACNH has had 11.7 million downloads since it was released on March 20, putting it on Nintendo’s game best seller list. Reiner says many people are using Animal Crossing as a means of escapism during quarantine.
“It’s the ideal escapism especially for this time,” Reiner explains. ‘We’re dealing with a lot of stress and anxiety in the world. But in Animal Crossing, you’re traveling to a pristine island with crystal blue water and palm trees. And the other people on the island are the nicest people possible.”
In fact, the game is so popular many celebrities have been sharing their fandom for the game online. Chrissy Teigan has been known to ask fans for game play tips.
And Danny Trejo offered to share his Dodo Code allowing others to visit his island and play with him.
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And Elijah Wood recently reached out to another player via Twitter and asked for his Dodo Code to sell turnips on his island for a profit.
Animal Crossing has so many layers from selling fruit and products to building your customized dream home. “Queer Eye” interior design expert Bobby Berk says his phone recently started blowing with with Tweets from ACNH players who wanted his design advice for their homes.
“I was getting so many Tweets and DMs from people asking me to look at their Animal Crossing house and tell them what I thought,” Berk explains. “I was like what is this Animal Crossing? Oh it’s so cute! This is clearly what people are using their time for right now.”
Berk, and Netflix, saw an opportunity there to provide some fun for QE fans so they organized a Twitter party for those in need of Berks’ design advice.
The official Netflix QE account posted: They wrote: "Hai Nook Miles+ members!! Do you need help making your #AnimalCrossing house a little more shamazing? Well, @bobbyberk is SOO EXCITED to share his interior design expertise with you! Reply to this tweet with pics of your home + the hashtag #QExAC for some special hiptips!"
Berk says he received hundreds of responses from players showing off their space. And one of the biggest themes that kept coming up, was how to make their space feel less empty. In the game, players can buy furniture or shake it out of trees. They can also customize furniture with various wood grains and colors. So what’s Berks’ big advice?
“To me it’s all about the way a space feels. The feng shui of a space,” Berk says. “I noticed a lot of people pushing their furniture up against the walls instead of in the middle. My biggest pieces of advice was, don’t have your sofa up against the wall. Bring it in the middle!”
And when it comes to curating your world with color, Berk says he’s a less is more kind of guy but says that’s where video games differ from the real world.
“I like neutral tones, but I know in a game it’s fun to be bright and colorful.”
I had to ask the about the bright and colorful characters of “Queer Eye” and when we might see them again on our TV screens. Berk says the show’s production was halted when the industry shut down but he still talks to his co-stars everyday.
“Season 5 is coming out soon. I don’t know exactly when, but I know it’s soon.”
So fans will have to enjoy Berks’ virtual home tips until QE comes back. Always creating, Berk has designed a line of virtual backdrops for video conference calls. You can find those on his website, bobbyberk.com, along with his favorite household items, DIY projects, and his collaboration with A.R.T. Furniture.