When COVID-19 hijacked our lives earlier this year, many of us turned to video games for comfort. Few were more soothing than Animal Crossing: New Horizons ($59.99), which was released at the end of March, just as the pandemic took hold in the U.S., generating record profits for its publisher, Nintendo. Its secret weapon: simplicity. More than 26 million players cultivated small islands, tilling the land, designing houses and managing a community. In the game, friends can also drop by for a visit—a rare, if virtual, comfort in these days of social distancing. Animal Crossing doesn’t just offer escapism, though: during the 2020 presidential race, Joe Biden’s campaign offered yard signs for people’s personal islands, and the President-elect even had a virtual campaign office that players could tour. —Matthew Gault
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