Animal Crossing gave me structure in a shapeless year

Time may have felt sluggish in the real world, but Animal Crossing’s seasons have kept changing. | Image: Nintendo

I broke ground on my Animal Crossing: New Horizons island, Honkland, just three days before the UK’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that the country was going into lockdown. I’d pitched up my tent, and I was just about to deliver a pile of materials to Timmy Nook to help him build the island’s general store.

I was enjoying my first Animal Crossing, but I hadn’t quite hit that point of “getting it” just yet. The menus were slow to navigate, and I wasn’t really sure what I was working toward. Mining the most material out of each of my island rocks involved a convoluted process of digging two holes and then hitting them repeatedly over the course of several seconds. Picking fruit involved first shaking a tree and then picking up…

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