Publisher: Nintendo
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch

2020 was the year that America hit rock bottom and began to dig. Political division, systemic racism, police brutality, civil unrest, natural disasters, coarsening political dialogue, rising fascism, a pandemic that's wiped out a quarter of a million Americans, and freaking MURDER HORNETS; it's enough to make you move to a desert island and start anew. Animal Crossing: New Horizons offers a vicarious opportunity to do just that.

Unfolding in real-time, Animal Crossing: New Horizons gives you the freedom to build your island utopia exactly the way you want it. I am the residential leader of Booyah Island, and I take pride in my abilities as a woodworker; I've built tables, chairs, and bookshelves, and I'm gathering wood to make more. I'm collecting dinosaur fossils; I have a complete Triceratops skeleton in my island's museum. I planted a money tree three days ago; I can't wait to log-in tonight and harvest coins from its branches. And because it's the holidays, I'm planting seasonal holly in my garden. I hung a flower wreath on my door last week.

We all have to go back to the real world eventually—the Switch's battery only lasts so long.  But what a respite. There's pleasure and assurance in mundanity.