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Animal Crossing players are returning to the perfect, pleasant escape of New Leaf

A game where you get to be the good leader your villagers deserve

Animal Crossing New Leaf key art featuring two villagers waving and holding up a chair, while several NPCs surround them with options Nintendo

Animal Crossing has always offered a reprieve from reality, and New Leaf more so than previous entries. Although the Nintendo 3DS game is going on four years old, Nintendo pushed a big update out last week that has many players again seeking its simple pleasures to escape from last night’s political upset that’s bringing them down.

Since the free Welcome amiibo update hit, players have returned to the series’ subreddit in full-force. There’s plenty of new content that’s motivating them to keep playing, but there’s an even more basic reason that New Leaf is a popular choice for many players right now: As our nation heads toward an uncertain future, they’re finding that it’s nice to come back to such a familiar, positive game, one where everyone’s happy to see you stop by and double rainbows are bountiful.

One user reinforced the latter by sharing his experience finding the rare natural beauty in his well-manicured town.

“For those of you who need some hope right now, a double rainbow showed up in my town yesterday,” wrote user masterprough on the Animal Crossing subreddit. The short post is one of the top-voted on the forum right now, with players showing their appreciation for the pleasant sight.

Nintendo via Reddit

New Leaf’s slow pace and focus on interior decorating, gardening and friendship-building has a lot of players using it for anxiety relief.

Several users chimed in when another fan said on Reddit that they found themselves playing New Leaf amidst election night stress, using the game to clear their minds.

“I think knowing there's a welcoming place to immerse yourself in, full of friendly faces and warm words helped,” Redditor TicTacGone told the original poster. “[New Leaf] was the kind of game I needed last night to make things feel temporarily better.”

Another big part of the catharsis of New Leaf, especially right now, is that it doesn’t just give players a new home to decorate, a town to make their own, a set of adorable animal neighbors to befriend — it puts them in charge. They get to be the village mayor, whose primary responsibilities include ensuring the town stays beautiful and helping everyone make money.

That’s a comforting vision of the world for many Animal Crossing fans post-election, and they’re singing New Leaf’s particular gospel on social media.

When things seem out of our control, video games can be a great source of comfort — and players find that New Leaf is comforting by design, even years after release. Even if things like real estate shark Tom Nook’s wild mortgage costs and the drama of reality threaten to drive us to our breaking points at times, at its core, the Animal Crossing series is an optimistic, mediating presence.

The next level of puzzles.

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