Animal Crossing: New Horizons has been a juggernaut of a game for the past six months, and now it will be the subject of a unique historical record.
The National Videogame Museum (NVM) will begin collecting the personal histories of those playing Animal Crossing: New Horizons throughout the quarantine period brought upon COVID-19.
This collection, tentatively titled 'The Animal Crossing Diaries', will focus on the cultural phenomenon of Animal Crossing: New Horizons as its release at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic began to ravage the globe. It will look at how New Horizons became a creative and social outlet for people unable to socialize in person during the pandemic. The collection will collect real-life records of players in this historical moment for preservation, with a specific focus on how New Horizons helped players cope with the lockdown.
“Animal Crossing is the perfect experience for a lockdown." Stated Iain Simons, the Director of Culture for the NVM. "The coincidental timing of its release provided a welcome relief for millions of people who wanted to go outdoors but couldn’t, who wanted to meet friends but weren’t allowed. It’s no surprise that this incredibly creative, social space became a safe haven for millions during this turbulent year.”
The NVM, located in the UK, is one of the few large-scale archives for the history and preservation of videogames and videogame culture. The project was awarded to the NVM by a grant from the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and Museum Association.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons has been a massive success for Nintendo, reaching over 22 million units sold in just six months, making the game the 2nd best selling title on the Nintendo Switch. New Horizons has also been used as an outlet for countless online events, including a recent surprise concert by Singer/Actress Selena Gomez on the Animal Talking show by Gary Whitta. Perhaps most notably, the game has taken on a political role of sorts in Hong Kong, serving as a place for protests against the Chinese government, and also serving as a place where a Tiananman Square Memorial was hosted with in-person possibilities closed off.
“With the fantastic support of Esmee Fairbairn, we want to explore the different ways in which videogames touch our audience’s lives.” Says Simons.
The NVM has been doing several lockdown actives and live streams since the lockdown of their physical space in Sheffield. This includes the relaunch of their online Saturday club, Pixelheads, that is running throughout the rest of the Summer.